December '18

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80 THE SHOP DECEMBER 2018 chances are that's the only card they have to play. You're already ahead of the game. Once the cheap price is over, you'll have your chance again. Take the situation as a sign that you need to be spending more time with those deal- erships that jump at such low-ball pricing. The competition will be back with the same card in hand, which will put your relationship strength to the test. This may go on, but don't join the pricing war. Take a professional, long-term approach instead. First, you need to believe in your prod- ucts. The employees at my company stand firm behind our pricing because we genu- inely believe, as a company, that we have the best people installing the best products on the market. If you believe in your products, you must continue your visits with your dealerships. They may have switched temporarily for the cheaper price, but walking in the door shows no hard feelings and that you believe in your company and your parts. IT ISN'T YOU Dealership clients need to know you'll be there for the long run—even those dealer- ships that take the bait from your discount competitor. I've learned that those are usually the dealerships that will eventually change staffs. Cheaper items tend to have more problems, which ultimately leads to angry customers. It may take several issues or a staff change, but you will eventually get a shot to prove your value. You must be honest about your products. If you've proven you offer quality items and the dealership loves your company's work, this is a great start to a long-term relationship. But, you can lose future work if you fail to voice your honest opinion on a product. Do your research. If your shop is experi- menting with a new product, have a con- versation regarding any potential issues. And if the dealership comes asking about a specific product, you need to tell them what you really think. I'd rather be honest about a product and voice my opinion than take the sale and lose the account because of a product I knew deep-down may have issues. I'm asked all the time what I think about cer- tain products and I give my honest answers. So, when I come in with a product I believe in, they jump on board. WALK THE WALK If you believe in the products you offer and price them fairly, and are up-front and honest about new items you try and that your deal- erships suggest, then you are well on your way to building a lasting relationship. To maintain these strong bonds, you must then be there for your dealerships when an issue arises with one of your products. When something goes wrong, it's a genuine opportunity to build trust. No product is perfect, so something is bound to happen at some point—a delay in ship- ping, a manufacturing glitch or even some- thing accidental inside your shop. How you handle the situation when a problem arises is key. I know our dealer- ships will say with certainty that we will go above and beyond to take care of our customers in these situations. We've had employees spend four hours in a car on a Saturday afternoon in order to plug a heated seat switch back in, so the dealership's customer didn't have to worry about the hassle. I know if someone walked into this dealership with cheaper pricing, it'd turn them down while telling them all that we've done to provide consistent quality. As a second-generation business owner, I try to improve and grow with technology and social media. If there's one thing that's stayed the same over the 43 years we've been in business, however, it's that nothing will ever take the place of visiting your customers face to face. You can't accomplish all the above without being physically present, and regularly at that. When you trust the products you carry and know your em- ployees will do the right thing, visiting dealerships is fun! Earning Trust Their

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