Thursday, September 29, 2011

Selling myself

Over the last couple of days I have been out trying to expand my business. This is no easy task walking into a shop and trying to sell my service. For the most part shop owners are pretty busy and it is hard to get their attention. Most of the time I get a head nod and the usual response of  "We do diagnostics here too." I try to get my main points across in a hurry. I typically have about 3 minutes. Yes, I have timed it. In 3 minutes I have to convey to the shop owner that I am capable, equipped, and on his side. The capable part is usually the easiest. I tell a little bit about myself, my past, etc. The equipped portion is a little harder. All the shops have scanners, some have labscopes, some have J2534 programming capabilities, a few have low amp probes. What the average shop owner/tech doesn't realize that there are limitations to aftermarket scanners and J tools. While many aftermarket scantools claim that they are OE level tools unfortunately they are not (look at my ongoing Ottotest posts). That is where owning factory scantools is essential. This is by no means a knock on any shop or shop owner at all. There is a lot of misinformation out there, 90% of the time a quality aftermarket scantool or J2534 tool will do the job. The other 10% of the time I can help them with OE tools, along with my knowledge and experience. This is where I earn my keep. The convincing the shop owner I am on his/her side is by far the hardest. I make sure to mention numerous times I only service professional shops only. I am not the competition. I am not here to take anybody's job or to rub someone's nose in a problem. Nor, do I hold myself above anybody else. My service is a supplement to an already well performing shop. As any of the shops that I service will tell you I am also not secretive. I teach as I diagnose or after. I am not one of these guys that says change that part because "I say so." I always share with anyone who will listen how I arrived at that decision. My service helps keep the shop's customers in their bays instead of somewhere else. Diagnostics does not pay the rent in a shop. Do not let anyone fool you. But, solid diagnostics keeps them coming back in for the brakes, exhaust, and service work that does pay the rent. I have to get all of that across in 3 minutes or less to a person who probably is worried whether Mrs. Jones' check is going to clear, how he is going to meet payroll, the parts house is 2 hours late with a part that the customer is waiting for, etc. Most shop owners are masters of multi-tasking. That is another reason why my service works-I am focused and can give my undivided attention to that problem that is eating away at shop productivity and bottom line. I always follow up with shops after the initial meet and greet in about 2 weeks. I can usually get a feel if the shop is going to use me after that. I always try to stay positive with my visits. There are a lot of great people in the automotive industry. I have met some real good quality individuals stopping in and saying hello. I never stop trying to get new business and I always take the time to help out a shop. You never know when it could turn into some newfound business. Now, if a shop decides to use me they usually throw a problem vehicle that they have been knocking their head against the wall at me. It is like a trial by fire type of scenario. If I solve the issue and impress the shop I get the business. In this business you definitely have to walk the walk.