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Selling the Diagnosis

by Art Little

Transmission Digest Magazine
This article appeared in the July 2015 issue of Transmission Digest.

How Much ? Bless their heart. That is what we say in the south when someone is a little slow. Customers don't know that we can not give them a price on repairing the most sophisticated part of their vehicle without first performing a diagnosis. When customers ask us how much, we have to educate them and make them understand that the first thing they need now is not a price, but rather, an accurate diagnosis to see if they even have a transmission problem. The last thing they need is for someone to pull a price out of the air before anyone even puts a key in it. It is our job to make them understand that.

I wish I had a dime for every time I have been asked how much. I explain to my customers, " I am not refusing to answer the question but, I have some questions of my own that need to be answered first".How much is a fair question but, the wrong question to ask me before the diagnosis. As a salesperson, It is not to my advantage to answer price questions until after we get an accurate diagnosis and it is often misleading to my customers. So, i just don't do it.

Logic is a great rebuttal tool.We can not give a price until we know what is wrong. Anyone can understand the logic of that if it is explained to them properly.Rebuttals should make the customer think. A good rebuttal can change the course of the sale immediately and win the customer over for you. You have to educate your customers. Bless their heart, the only question they know to ask is how much. They don't know anything abouttransmissions. But, they do understand basic logic.

Words are all we have to fight this war. So, let me give you some words for your arsenal in this article. We can use words like... for your benefit ....or In order to serve you better.... or we help you solve that problem by....or to get started off on the right transition and lead them away from the price question and to the diagnosis. Be positive. Minimize their problem. Let them know it might not be as bad as they think. Tell them how you can help them and convince them that it is in their best interest to get a diagnosis before they start asking for a price. "We do not assume that you have a transmission problem why should you? " " An accurate diagnosis is the first thing we are going to do for you to save you money" Those are a couple of examples of logical rebuttals you can try out. Below are some more suggestions that I have heard the better managers use. More words for your arsenal.......

I will not bring it in until I have a price.

"The real price will depend on two things and two things only. Parts and labor. The low price you get over the phone to get you to come in, will always be different after the diagnosis is performed in those shops. So,why waste your time calling around? Those prices are not the real price. They are prices to induce you to bring your vehicle in. We call those shops bait and switch shops. We do not play games with our customers. We diagnose the problem and find out what parts are going to be required and the labor time needed to install them and then quote you a real price that you can count on. And, we perform the diagnosis free. Let me ask you this. Would you agree that you are going to have to take your vehicle somewhere to get it diagnosed ? The dealership charges around 200 dollars for the diagnosis. Let me save you that 200 dollar diagnostic fee and schedule a free diagnosis for you now so you can get an accurate diagnosis and a firm price."

Why can other shops give me a price and you can't ?

"One of two things will happen when a shop quotes a price before they diagnose it. One will use inferior parts the other will call you back and charge you more. They have to make a profit. Either way,you loose." Basicly customers are calling around asking for a price to save money. Since the price they are asking for will not save them any money, we have to make the diagnosis the place where they save money. Try these words " I understand you are shopping around trying to save some money and frankly, I don't blame you. Let me tell you how I can help you save some money today okay? Without knowing what is wrong it is impossible for any shop to know what is going to cost.If you take it to the dealer they will charge you around 200 dollars for the diagnosis . For your benefit, we perform the diagnosis for our customers at no charge and save you 200 dollars. "

Have you worked on other transmissions like mine? How much?

"Yes I have. But, I have not worked on yours. You may not even have a transmission problem. The worst thing that could happen to you today is if you bought a transmission and you didn't need one. Have you thought about that? Doesn't it make sense to get your vehicle diagnosed before you assume the worst and have someone take advantage of you ? If you keep calling around I guarantee you someone will sell you a transmission today and you may not need it."

You have probably done hundreds of these. How much did the most expensive one cost?

" The most expensive one was when this guy went to another shop and they sold him a transmission and it did not fix the problem. He brought it to me and it was diagnosed as a fuel problem. I put a fuel pump on it and fixed the problem. The misdiagnosed ones are probably the most expensive ones. But, for your benefit .....I have a free diagnosis that will make sure that doesn't happen to you. "

How much is a used one?

" It depends on how many times I have to put it in. The junk yard will send me another one if it doesn't work but, you are just contracting the labor with me . I just charge to take it out and put it in for you and every time it doesn't work you have to pay me to take it back out and out another one in. So it depends. However, before you even consider that you need an accurate diagnosis. For your benefit..."

Can't you just put another one in?

" You bet. But, let me ask you, would you want to put another one in if you could fix yours for less money.? What if you did not have a transmission problem? Would you still want to put another one in?The easy way is always the most expensive. That's why we start off on the right foot with our customer and perform an honest and accurate diagnosis before we quote any prices. The dealership charges around 200 dollars for the diagnosis but, we perform the diagnosis free for our customers "

Why can't you give me a price?

"Let me ask you a question. Why does the dealership charge you 200 dollars for a transmission diagnosis before they give you a price ? Because they need to find out what the problem is. They hook their computer up to the computer in your vehicle and let them talk. Your computer will tell the shops computer what is wrong. This Is 2015 . We have computer diagnostics nowadays that takes the guess work out of it. And, to get started off on the right foot with our customers, we perform the diagnosis free and save you that 200 dollars. When can you bring it in?"

More words ..." The dealerships charge 200 for a transmission diagnosis. But, for your benefit our diagnosis is free. I know you are shopping around trying to save money right? We just saved 200 dollars . Give me the opportunity to earn your business and I will make sure you get an accurate diagnosis at my shop. Then, once I know what is wrong, I can talk to you about saving you some more money off the cost of the repair."

Believe it or not, I have worked with shop owners that think it is dishonest to not quote a price over the phone if asked. Bless their heart.If you are one of those I will ask you this. Is it honest to quote a price for a repair that you are not sure needs to be performed ?How does that benefit the customer ? How does that benefit your shop ?Discussing pricing before we know what parts we need on any repair does not benefit anybody at anytime. So, wise up and quit running business off. You are scaring customers off when you quote prices over the phone. How much? 1800 dollars. Click. That is what happens when you answer that question.

Words are all we have but, the right words can be a very effective weapon. Look at it this way. If we can not sell a free diagnosis on the phone, we are not going to sell a transmission repair. Your best bet is to position yourself as the friendly guy at an honest shop that has a free diagnosis that saves the customer 200 dollars off the dealership price for a.diagnosis. You won't get them all but statistics prove that your chances of getting a sale are better than the shop's that are giving low ball prices over the phone. It is a percentage bet.So, for you managers out there that think you have a better solution, I just have to say to you, good luck with that and bless your heart.

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