Here’s the story: on March 31, 2015, NJ got its last major storm, 5 inches of wet snow on top of icy roads, which means all bad news for drivers. It was a dark evening and my teenage daughter decided to drive herself home from a friend’s house.
Only 6 months of driving experience, and you can understand how the fire hydrant at the end of our road JUMPED OUT after she turned the corner, landing right in the middle of her path. She was fine, the fire hydrant was no worse for wear (we luckily avoided the “Old Faithful-auto-on-top-of-the-geyser” scenario, but the Toyota Rav 4? Not looking so good.
My car was missing a fog light, needed a new bumper, a new side panel on the driver’s side, a headlamp cover, and a new wheel rim at least. So off I trotted to body shops for three estimates on the repairs.
First place: a Toyota-certified body shop where I was immediately informed that estimates were done by appointment only and I needed to come back. Okay…
Second place: I drove in, parked and a man came out, took some photos, said next to nothing. He handed me the estimate, said it would take about a week. No, “thank you,” no, “do you have any questions?” no extra effort, or words, whatsoever. If I came back, fine. If I didn’t, that seemed okay too. $2700.
Back to first place for appointment. Shake hands with boss, take a few photos, a little small talk. I was promised an email estimate later that day.
Then the sketchy part started…he discussed reconditioned parts, and the need to get insurance to pay for the damage, he was winking a lot and giving me lots of advice about my deductible going up. When I headed home I felt like I needed a shower, and wasn’t really sure why. Email estimate: $2995.97.
Third location: after waiting a bit a TEENY BOPPER estimator with clipboard headed my way. She shook my hand, introduced herself and complimented me on my swatch of purple hair.
“Wow, that looks so cute, what do you do for a living?” she asked. I proceeded to tell her about my face and body art business (succumbing completely to the flattery angle, until I caught myself and put on my concerned “auto owner/don’t rip me off” face.
She walked me outside, talked to me all about the car and what needed to be replaced, discussed with me reconditioned parts vs. new, and how it was difficult to see what was damaged beyond the headlamp until they took the bumpers and side off.
She was very, very knowledgeable about every little clip, bolt and clamp. I loved this girl…all 23 years, and multiple-pierced ears of her. She had on a logo button-down shirt, sounded very authoritative (like this was her 10,000th estimate) and she immediately had my trust.
She pointed, demonstrated, and a few minutes later I had another estimate $3734.56; marked as “insurance pay.” I was shocked, so far above what the others had estimated.
She never asked me who was paying for the repairs, but instead informed me that their estimate is high, to include worst possible scenarios and if it is less, they will revise as they uncover what really needs to be replaced (upon dismantling the front end).
What did I decide? I am going with the third estimate, filing a claim with my insurance, and if the premium for my daughter goes up, so be it.
I also decided that I trusted this estimator and knew that if the insurance company and she can work it out for less, they will. She knew what she was talking about, she was an expert in her field, and she wanted my business, even at a higher price than the other shops. I trusted her, and I liked her, even though she was more expensive.
Ask yourself: What are you doing to make your prospects and clients more comfortable with their choice of your company?
You can charge for exceptional service, extra skills, stress free booking, staying later on the job, and a certain “professional demeanor,” in contrast to others in our industry.
Don’t compete in the low rent district… make yourself different, charge a higher price for what you do, and go after the distinguishing client, the one who appreciates your extra effort and professionalism. Help the client through the process, share with them all the helpful hints you have, and they will be grateful.
Will you win the business of those shopping for the lowest price, certainly NOT. But who will you win? People who love you and appreciate you and refer others to you.
Remember, you can double your rates, lose half your clients and still make the same amount of income as you do now!
Think about it. What do you provide that gives your clients the peace of mind that they “could do NO better” than you? Raise your rates to match what you provide and I promise, you will be glad you did.