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Last impressions

by Art Little

Transmission Digest Magazine
This article appeared in the February 2013 issue of Transmission Digest.

The last impression your customer has of you is as important, if not more important, than the first impression. Many times we get busy and take short cuts we know we shouldn't. Car delivery is an easy one to neglect. You talk to any sales manager and he will tell you the last step of any sale is the reassurance step. In this step, you reassure the customer that he has made the right decision about buying from you and ask for referrals. Car delivery is the reassurance step in the sale of a transmission repair. Proper car delivery procedure accomplishes several things but, reassurance is the most important factor in the process.

Many salesmen in our industry think the reassurance step comes right after the close. Of course you need to tell the customer you appreciate his business and you will do him a good job. But, that's about as far as you need to go at that juncture of the sale. Most customers are more than ready to leave after the sale has been closed. Save your good stuff for the car delivery and go order the parts.

Once the repair has been made, you need to get ready for the delivery of the car before you call the customer. Go drive the car and make sure the customers original complaints have been corrected. Then walk the car to make sure that it is clean and there are no leaks or other problems that would make the customer uneasy. Park the car close to the office and lock it. Take the keys in and put them where they can be found. Put them on the keyboard or staple the key tag to the repair order if you don't have a keyboard. It doesn't matter, just make sure you do not have to look for them during car delivery. Now you are ready to call the customer and deliver the car.

When the customer arrives at the shop, unless you are selling a job, stop what you are doing and go take care of him. Go get the keys, smile, shake his hand and take him for a ride. If anything needs to be done, do it right then. Ask him if he is satisfied with the repair and if so, now you are ready to deliver the car.

Take the customer to the area where you deliver cars. An office with a closed door is ideal but if your shop does not have that available, use a place that affords you the most privacy. This needs to be a clean area with a place for the customer to sit down. Have someone answer the phone for you if possible so there will be no interruptions. You do not answer the phone when you are closing a sale so remember what I told you. This is the last step of the sale and you need to keep distractions at bay while you are selling.

Sit down together. Start by going over what the problem was when he came to you and then explain what you did to correct the problem. Explain it in terms that he will understand and do not talk over his head. Next, explain his warranty to him and reassure him that you will be there for him if a warranty problem should occur.

Tell him that you have just repaired the most sophisticated part of his automobile and it takes about 500 miles for all the new seals to heat up enough to seat and seal. Assure him it is not leaking now but, because of the heat causing the seals to expand and contract during the break in period, it might leak. Ask him to watch for leaks and if he sees any leaks to bring it back immediately. Ask him to listen for noises or anything else that he thinks might be a problem and stress to him that you want him to let you know about his concerns as soon as they occur.

Explain the fact that a warranty is not a guarantee that the work performed will not fail. Rather, it is a guarantee that the work performed will be repaired at no charge should the need arise for as long as he is under warranty. Admit that you are not perfect but, you are willing to make right any problems he might have in the future as quickly as possible. Finally, tell him that he must bring back the car after 500 miles so you can check your work and make any adjustments that may be needed at that time. Tell him you know he has spent a lot of money with you and you just want to make sure the work is right.

Ask him if he has any questions. If he does, then answer them. Then ask him again if he is satisfied with the repair. If not, ask him why and address those issues until he is satisfied. Do not let a customer go that has not verbally told you he is satisfied. Once he says he is satisfied, it is time to collect the money for the repair.

There are several things that should be documented on the paperwork. Here is a good check list. Make sure:

  1. Year Make and Model has been recorded.
  2. The repair order is dated.
  3. The mileage is recorded.
  4. The VIN # is recorded.
  5. All documentation regarding the original customer complaint, diagnosis and repair is complete.
  6. Work authorization has been signed and dated.
  7. Release of the vehicle has been signed and dated.
  8. Method and amount of payment has been recorded along with the date and signature of who took in the payment.

Once the paperwork has been completed give a copy of the repair order and warranty to the customer in an envelope and tell him to put that in his glove box. Take the key tag off the keys for him and hand them back to him. Then, shake his hand, thank him, ask him to send you some business and escort him to the door. Remind him again at the door to keep an eye out for leaks and you will see him again after 500 miles. As the customer is leaving, put the payment in a safe place and your copy of the repair order where it goes before you do anything else. As a footnote, it is advisable to follow these procedures, with the obvious exclusions, when delivering a car back that has come in for warranty work.

If you consistently perform quality car delivery procedures you will find that if the customer has a problem that requires warranty work, he is much easier to deal with and your customer referral rate will skyrocket. You have taken the time to complete the last step of the sale. He is sure he has made the right decision now. You have put him on notice that there may be some problems but, you will be there for him if there is a problem and he believes it. That is all any customer could ask for. You have made a good last impression and satisfied another customer that will refer his friends to you. End of sale.

I know it takes a little more time to do a proper car delivery but, it makes you money, saves you time and grief, and in the long run, creates a great reputation for you in the community. Until next time, take care of each other out there and  take care of that customer so you can make a lasting impression that is positive for your shop.

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