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Extended Service

Creating the Added Value

When we decide to go out to lunch, the hamburger at McDonalds should have a different taste from the hamburger we would experience at Outback Steak House. There is also a difference in the atmosphere of the two dining experiences, and a difference in the prices. The important point is that there is a difference, and the customer makes the decision as to where he will eat.

What about the experience of servicing a piece of equipment for a customer? Doesn't every shop do about the same services? There may be a variance as to what equipment you will work on, or what hours you are open. There may also be a difference between shops as to which ones use OEM parts. But, for the most part, the service is the same. While many customers will ask the question of how much it will be to repair their equipment, it is very hard for the customer to price shop because most dealerships will have a bench charge for giving the estimate.

At this point, we are then expecting our potential repair customers to decide which shop is going to repair their equipment based on the items listed above and their prior experiences.

So, how do you differentiate your shop from the competition? It would seem that we have a situation that fulfills the old saying of, "If all the birds sang the same song, people would not be interested in hearing them sing." What if your technician could provide added value?

It can be done. And once you decide to implement these changes, be sure to promote these special services that you, and only you, now offer the customers in your trade area.

Let's start with the shop ticket. Have your service order writer document verbatim the comments of the customer. The customer will feel more comfortable knowing that his concerns have been documented and not translated into terms that he does not understand.

When the repair ticket is assigned to a mechanic, have the mechanic call the customer. He will probably just get an answering machine, but a simple message of, "This is Bill Smith. I'm a mechanic for Westside Power Equipment. I am putting your machine on the bench this morning, and if you have any questions please call. Our phone number is 555- 5555."

As for the actual service, how many times have you rebuilt a carburetor on a machine, and then had the same machine back in the shop two weeks later for an unrelated repair that the customer is certain should be performed at no charge?

Our suggestion is not only for a thorough going over of the machine, but to provide a basic service of the equipment. If you have the equipment on the bench, and you are charging by the hour for service, why not take the time to install a new spark plug, and where appropriate change the oil, filter and sharpen the blade. You can take the process a step further by cleaning the machine and applying touch up paint. Add an adhesive label to the machine that identifies your shop and you have a piece of equipment that looks substantially different than how it was brought into your shop.

The last three steps are to have a large red rubber stamp that you can stamp on the shop ticket, identifying these special services that you have provided at no additional charge. Call your customer to tell them their equipment is ready for pickup, and then whatever the estimate was, make sure that the final repair bill is at least one dollar less than the estimate.

Will there still be customers that will want the basic style service? Absolutely, but now you have given the customers in your community an alternative and distinguished your shop from the competition.

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.

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