After I write an estimate for a customer, how long should I wait to do a follow-up call? – Question asked by: Ethan West, Mungenast Collision Centers, St. Louis, Mo.
Question answered by: Barrett R. Smith, AAM, and president of Auto Damage Experts, Inc.
I don’t encourage repairers to write estimates because they don’t offer the customer the information they really need to make their decision. Rather, I encourage them to write repair orders, because what customers truly need is to know how much damage there really is and how much it will cost to repair. Generally, this can only be accomplished by dismantling the damaged components and preparing a comprehensive damage assessment and repair blueprint.
Of course, there are those situations where one is compelled to offer an estimate, and in these situations, we also provide them some prepared information to take with them and read at their leisure. This can be a simple one-page letter, pamphlet or brochure, providing the prospective customer information they need to know to help themselves make the best choice of repairer.
In addition to this handout, we generally contact the customer by phone within 48 hours in the hopes of avoiding insurer steering (which they are made aware of and why) and to answer any questions their husband or wife might have. If we aren’t able to speak with someone by phone, we leave a message letting them know we value their business and reaffirm our “lifetime warranty.” We then immediately follow up with an email message prepared ahead of time. We then follow up in seven to 10 days for status and, if applicable, to learn why they chose a shop other than ours to ensure we didn’t do or say anything to lose the sale. We also want to learn what we could have done that might have earned their business.
We find that this information helps us improve our sales ability and closing ratio. We also use this opportunity to offer a free post-repair inspection and provide information on diminished value and how proper and thorough repairs – employing factory replacement parts – aid in not only restoring their vehicle but also its value…and, perhaps more importantly, their peace of mind.