What would it look like if you increased your capture rate by just 5 percent? This is a question I continually ask our management team.
Let’s consider a facility that writes $500,000 worth of estimates per month, converting $325,000 of those estimate opportunities into repair orders (a 70 percent capture rate). A 5 percent improvement in capture rate would result in additional sales of $25,000 per month. Think about that: $300,000 in sales for the year. If your gross profit margin is 42 percent, that’s $126,000 gross profit dollars. As you can see, it’s well worth continually working on improving your capture rate.
The Basics of Selling
So, what can you do to improve your capture rate? I think it’s getting back to the basics of selling. Here are some opportunities to improve your selling skills:
1. You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. The customer receiving and waiting areas need to be meticulously clean and organized as a starting point to gaining customer confidence. A clean, uniformed staff, certifications displayed on the wall and a freshly painted office also help make that first impression. Research suggests that clean bathrooms have a significant influence on the customer’s perception of your organization.
2. Make sure your customer greeting is both enthusiastic and professional. “Good morning, welcome to XYZ Dealership. How can I help you?” is an improvement over, “I’ll be with you in just a minute.”
3. Make sure customers are comfortable and keep them engaged. Offering a customer a seat, a bottle of water or cup of coffee while they wait goes a long way. Make sure your customer service representative is keeping them engaged while they’re waiting for the estimate.
4. Show empathy for the customer’s situation. Respond with empathy. When customers tell the guest services representative, “I hit a huge pothole, blew the tire and bent the rim,” the immediate response, “I’m sorry to hear about that — is everyone OK?” is just one example of how to communicate empathy.
5. Always assume that the customer has already decided that you will make the repairs and serve their needs. Some examples of taking an assumptive position include:
• “We’ll keep you informed during the repair process so you’ll know how your vehicle is doing, and we’ll confirm your delivery date and time.”
• “When you come to pick your vehicle up…”
• “When we detail your vehicle, we’ll….” This is also known as the assumptive close. Customers sometimes raise concerns or objections, especially when you make assumptive statements. This is an opportunity to turn the concern or objection into a repair order.
6. Use “Feel/Felt/Found” when handling objections — a proven method for answering objections or concerns. Here’s an example:
• A customer asks, “Does my battery really need to be replaced?” You can answer “I know it’s an extra expense you weren’t expecting, and a lot of people hate to pay the money for something like that. While it will start the car for a little while longer, though, it will eventually fail and I’ve found that the peace of mind of not worrying about being stranded is well worth the money.”
7. Feature benefit. When presenting company features, always include the benefit to the customer. “By rotating and computer-balancing your tires, you’ll not only see your tires last longer, but you’ll have a smoother, safer ride in your vehicle.”
8. Ask for the job! So many times, we simply don’t say it loud enough for customers to hear or we don’t say it at all. “We would like to make the repairs to your vehicle. If you would just add your signature to the authorization to repair, we can get started.”
There are two books that will help you strengthen your understanding of the selling process:
• Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People is an easy read filled with ideas that will help anyone improve their selling skills.
• Selling for Dummies by Tom Hopkins is an excellent book that delivers many valuable lessons for improving your sales skills.
Having your service department managers and/or service advisors read books like these and then practice lessons learned is a key to developing and strengthening selling skills.
We measure capture-rate performance and share the results on a weekly and monthly basis. We also measure store performance and individual performance. We run monthly contests, and they get quite competitive. Our individual capture-rate performance ranges from 55 percent to 95 percent. Needless to say, when a staff member is struggling, we find out how we can help them improve and get them the help they need. Joe Carubba