I’ve been getting a lot of questions on retail marketing for PDR lately. Most of this interest seems to be coming from long time techs. With the economy hitting dealerships hard in most areas, retail PDR is starting to get the attention it deserves. We will be doing a series here on effective sales and marketing techniques. But as always we need to start with the basics. Most of the time PDR sells itself to retail customers. But you will need at least moderate marketing and sales skills to sell to insurance agents, body shops, office parks, etc. Here is a list of sales basics as they relate to PDR.
#1 How to deal with Rejection. NEVER take it personally! Taking rejection personally can be the beginning of the end for any retail business. Unless you make sales with holes in your pants and a runny nose (don’t laugh I saw a PDR tech do this), they probably aren’t rejecting you. We all have off days and your potential customer may be having one as well. Also, the customer may not have the money or need your services at that time. If you present yourself well, a customer rarely says no because of you. All this is very important to keep in mind, because the temptation after getting told no a few times is to take it personally. Then your confidence goes quickly, and your lack of confidence will be noticed by most customers. Learn from these rejections, and refine your sales approach. Many times todays rejection is next months sale. Follow up in a month or two, unless you know it is a lost cause.
You may even find your customers will help you refine your sales approach. You should always try and “scratch where the customer itches”. If you find yourself loosing too many sales, chances are your customers will tell you where you lost it if you ask them. Many sales are not lost on price issues, but on the customers “gut feeling” that they don’t trust you, or your abilities. Listen to their feedback no matter how it may bother or even hurt you. If you keep getting the same negative feedback, you need to change your approach whether you think you do or not! Getting the customers trust is the hard part, because they have been screwed over so many times as we all have. Once you have their trust, the sale is easy
Many times there is a power play or control issue going on with people, especially those in most automotive related businesses. They feel they need to control the situation or they will get screwed. Never argue or get impatient with them. Let them know that you understand that it is of course their choice whether to use you or not, and ask if there would be a better time for them to talk about your service. This will usually diffuse a “who is in control” situation. With many of these people you need to realize it’s not you, it’s the world they’re mad at.
#2 Exude confidence but NOT arrogance. Assuming you are at the skill level needed for this, go in confident of your skill level and let it show a little. However, many techs make the mistake of being arrogant without even realizing it until their wife or another female points this out to them. Most women have a real knack of recognizing subtleties like this that will go right past most men. Run your sales material and sales approach past a few women and ask them what impression you are giving.
#3 Always be honest with clients. If you make a mistake, don’t let the customer find it, you need to tell him yourself. This is always embarrassing, but you will usually find people are so surprised at your honesty and willingness to make it right that they will want to use you again because they know they can trust you now. Never raise your agreed on price, even if you have to eat it a little. If your not confident you can do the job tell them it is beyond your present ability or that it can’t be done with PDR. That old saying “always under promise and over deliver” always holds true especially in PDR. When a job goes bad, don’t panic. Explain to the customer that the dent had more damaged than you thought, and you could not get it out all the way. Of course you don’t want to charge for the work in these situations. Most customers will be grateful that you tried.
#4 Eliminate objections to using your service before they happen. Dings and small dents are not a necessity for most customers, it is only a vanity and convenience issue for them. You MUST make the service you offer very easy for the customer to use. If you don’t take credit cards, do so. This will eliminate many payment issue problems, and they are a great up-selling tool. Try and offer mobile service. Many potential customers don’t have the time to bring the vehicle to you. Do your best to accommodate their schedule within reason. Always try and give the customer at least an hours notice before you will arrive. Call the night before to confirm the appointment.
#5 Don’t give free mobile estimates. In most cases these are huge time wasters. If a job sounds promising, tell a customer you may be able look at it when you are in the area next. Or they can bring it to you for a free estimate. Taking digital photos and e-mailing them to you is another way of giving estimates. Make sure to tell the customer to take the pictures at an angle and from a distance around 10 feet, and from two different 180 degree angles.
#6 Have the name of a couple good mobile painters / body shops to give to customers that need it. It is good customer service, and a good way of getting a referral network going with the other businesses. It also may come in handy if you damage the paint on a customers car and need help in a hurry.
#7 Try and get along with as many dent techs in your area as possible. The competition among PDR techs in the same location is of course pretty fierce. But you should be able to find at least a couple other quality minded techs that you can get along with in your area. When you are swamped with work and need help, there is nothing like another trusted tech in your area to help you out. It makes taking vacations easier also if you can refer calls to them.
#8 If you haven’t named your business yet, consider using a name with Dent as the first word. There are many reasons why large dent companies have dent as the first word in their names and they are all about marketing and name recognition. As an example, many people find services in the white pages listings instead of the yellow pages. This is especially true for PDR since there is no PDR listing in yellow pages. PDR advertisers get dumped in the auto body section. A customer looking for PDR services will usually look for DENT in the white pages and if your name doesn’t start with dent they won’t find you. The white page listing is free, and a bold listing in the white pages is very cheap and should get you at least a few calls a month.
#9 Have fun. You should enjoy doing retail PDR. Customers will pick up on your attitude quickly, and a person that enjoys their work will always make a positive impression. One of the great things about retail is the mindset you develop from all the compliments you get. A VERY welcome change from wholesale work! Let the customer know how much you appreciate the kind words, and that it was a pleasure serving them…even if it wasn’t.
Next time we will continue with part two of Sales basics for PDR.