Objection overruled

Jan. 1, 2020
In a previous column, I mentioned that whenever a shop approaches me looking for help with marketing, my first question is always, “What’s your closing ratio?”

In a previous column, I mentioned that whenever a shop approaches me looking for help with marketing, my first question is always, “What’s your closing ratio?” Because before you try to attract more potential customers to the door, you need to make sure you’re converting enough of the current “shoppers” coming to your door into “customers” who make an appointment to have their car repaired.

So if you aren’t doing so already, track your closing ratio for 30 to 60 days. If you write 100 estimates and get 60 of those jobs, you have a 60 percent closing ratio. And if your closing ratio isn’t 85 percent or better, you need to focus more on “selling” than on “marketing.”

Think about it: Let’s say you have a 65 percent closing ratio and you currently have annual sales of about $1 million. You can quickly estimate that your potential sales from all your estimates is about $1.53 million ($1 million current sales divided by .65 closing ratio). If you could nudge up your closing ratio by capturing just 10 percent of those lost sales, you’ve added $153,000 to your annual sales without spending a dime more on marketing.

But to do this, it’s not enough to know just your closing ratio. You also need to know WHY people didn’t schedule repairs with you. What was their reason, their objection?

It could be because they feel they need to get multiple estimates. It could be because they need to check with their spouse. It could be because they think your shop is too expensive, or because their insurer told them you are hard to work with. It could because they need a loaner car or want their deductible waived. Most shop management systems will allow you to track these objections, but you can do it manually even if you don’t have a management system.

Here’s why: In my shop, we were determined to keep our closing ratio high, to let as few of the potential jobs that came to our door get away. So the first Thursday of each month, I’d bring the office staff together and we’d look at our closing ratio number. We’d also look at the reasons we weren’t able to get potential customers to schedule appointments.

We’d then brainstorm what we could do as salespeople and as an organization to overcome the objections we were hearing from potential customers. How do we counter when they say their insurer told them we’re “not on their list” or are “hard to deal with?” How we get past their belief that they need to get three estimates? What if they say they want to find a shop that will waive their deductible?

We’d use those discussions to build sales scripts and training that address those objections, one at a time. Then we’d role-play the scenarios so they could practice and learn how to overcome those objections.

If the objection was that another shop has a loaner car, for example, we’d make sure the potential customer knew we offer them free pick-up and delivery within 10 miles of the shop (and estimators knew they could extend this range based on the job). We’d make sure they knew we could coordinate a rental they could pick up and drop off at the shop. We’d offer to contact their insurer if they weren’t sure if they had rental car coverage. We could offer them some mass transit passes, or as appropriate, take advantage of some of the free rental days our rental car vendor offered us.

We built a whole series of these types of responses for a variety of different objections we encountered. While I think going through this process with your own staff is a valuable exercise, you can also download the “Overcoming Objections” document we developed at my shop by visiting ABRN.com/OvercomingObjectives.

So before you pour dollars or effort into marketing to get more potential business to the door, measure how much of that potential business you’re capturing (your closing ratio). And if it’s not 85 percent or better, put some effort into helping your team overcome the objections they’re hearing.

About the Author

Mike Anderson

Mike Anderson, a former shop owner, operates CollisionAdvice.com, a training and consulting firm. He's also a facilitator for DuPont Performance Services' Business Council 20-groups.

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