Issue Date: Service Advisor Dec 1, 2008, Posted On: 12/1/2008
How the first seven seconds can help you sell a major repair - or not Even the best service advisors can't convince a customer to buy a major vehicle repair in seven seconds. But you can certainly lose a big sale in that short period of time. Seven seconds is the average length of time you have to make a first impression. If the first impression you create when the customer rolls onto your service drive is not good you won't get another chance. But if you make a great first impression you can bet that the customer is more likely to listen to what you have to say.
With only seven seconds, you do not have time to waste. It pays for you to understand how people make their first judgment and what you can do to be in control of the results.
People do judge books by their covers. When you meet someone face-to-face, most of how you are judged is based on non-verbal data - your appearance and your body language. The words you use have minimal impact at this stage. Whoever said that you can't judge a book by its cover failed to note that people actually do buy books based on their covers.
Choose your opening statement very carefully. Although research shows that your words make up a mere 7 percent of what people think of you, don't leave them to chance. Express some form of thank you when you meet the customer. Perhaps, it is "Thank you for visiting our service department today." People appreciate you when you appreciate them.
Use the customer's name immediately. There is no sweeter sound than that of our own name. When you use the prospect 's name in conversation within your first twelve words and the first seven seconds, you are sending a message that you value that person and are focused on him. Nothing gets other people's attention as effectively as calling them by name. Start with the formal Mr., Mrs., Dr., or Ms. Ultimately first names are preferred, but wait until the customer gives your permission to use it.
Avoid "bad hair" days. Prospects will notice your hair and face first. Putting off that much-needed haircut may cost you some business. Very few people want to do business with someone who is unkempt or whose hairstyle does not look professional. Don't let a bad hair day cost you the connection.
Shine your shoes. People will look from your face to your feet. If your shoes aren't well maintained, the customer will question whether you pay attention to other details. Shoes should be polished as well as appropriate for your dealership environment. They may be the last thing you put on before you walk out the door, but they are often the first thing your customer notices.
Quicken your step. People who walk faster than others are viewed as important and energetic - just the kind of person your customers want to do business with. Pick up the pace and walk with purpose if you want to impress. You never know who may be watching.
Tune up your handshake. The first move you make when greeting your customers should be to put out your hand. There isn't a service advisor anywhere who can't tell you that the good business handshake should be a firm one. Yet time and again people offer a limp hand to the customers. You'll be assured of giving an impressive grip and getting off to a good start if you position your hand to make complete contact with the other person's hand. Once you've connected, close your thumb over the back of the other person's hand and give a slight squeeze.
Never leave your work area without some business cards. Your business cards and how you handle them contribute to your total image. Have a good supply of them with you at all times since you never know when and where you will encounter a potential customer. Keep your cards in a card case or holder where they are protected from wear and tear. That way you will be able to find them without a lot of fumbling around, and they will always be in pristine condition.
Match your body language to your message. A smile or pleasant expression tells your customers that you are glad to be with them. Eye contact says you are paying attention and are interested in what is being said. Leaning in toward the customer makes you appear engaged and involved in the conversation. Use as many signals as you can to look interested and interesting.
In the service environment, you should plan as much as possible. You make service appointments, you pre-write repair orders, and you anticipate repairs based on model year and mileage. Leave nothing to chance. When the service department doors open in the morning, be ready to make a powerful first impression.