A Guide to Ethical Upselling for Auto Service Providers

auto service upselling tips

Would you agree that upselling is important?

Most business owners and managers think so—and it’s not just because upselling means earning more money.

“Upselling” sometimes has a negative connotation for consumers. “Oh man,” they might think, “that’s when someone tries to sell you something extra you don’t need, right?”

And the fact of the matter is, you can easily forgive someone for having this perception. Plenty of businesses do view upsells that way: just another way to try and wring out every last penny from their customers.

However, the businesses that tend to have the most measurable success are those who practice ethical upselling, meaning that the offer is something genuinely helpful or potentially necessary for the customer.

Upselling with this mindset offers two major benefits, one to you, the business owner or manager, and one to the customer.

For you and your team, the benefit is that it’s always easier to sell something when you know the customer will actually benefit from it. You know they need it, so it’s not difficult to pitch. You don’t come off as “salesy” either.

For the customer, the benefit is that they gain the opportunity to purchase something they may not have known they needed prior to hearing the offer. As you’ll see while we explore this topic more below, these ethical upsells are always genuinely helpful.

how to upsell auto shop

An Example of an Unethical Upsell

Those readers in the biz will recognize this one: the old radiator coolant flush upsell. Quite a few “big name” lube shops offer this as an upsell during a routine oil change. As you probably already know, radiator coolant doesn’t degrade like engine oil does and, unless contaminated in some way, doesn’t need to be replaced for up to 100,000 miles.

This is an example of an unethical upsell. If the customer’s radiator coolant is contaminated? Sure, it’s a big help—but if it’s not, the upsell is basically just a waste of money for the customer. When clients catch wind of these kinds of unnecessary charges, they’ll be immediately turned off, and that can do some real damage to your reputation.

Let’s take a look at an example of a more legitimate upsell.

The Most Useful Upsell Ever?

Even car folks like us can forget to replace our wiper blades. It’s happened to everyone at least once: you don’t touch your wipers for the entire summer. They get cracked, dry, and lose almost all of their efficacy… and then the first rainstorm of the year comes rolling in. You hit your wipers and realize that they’re shot.

It’s a pretty dangerous situation to be in! Reduced visibility, especially during a storm and/or at night is a recipe for disaster.

New windshield wiper blades are practically the definition of an ethical upsell. Plenty of people forget to replace them, even though they’re cheap and installation is easy. Remind your customers to replace their wiper blades at the end of summer and they’ll be thanking you.

car dealership upsell techniques

Seasonal Tire Upgrades

Many consumers have been pretty much sold on all-season tires. And, depending on the climate where you live, they may be fine. However, if your area does receive a good amount of snow in the cold months, upselling winter tires to your customers can be genuinely helpful because the difference in handling between winter tires and all-season tires is very substantial—and that’s something that your average driver may not be aware of.

Explain the differences between winter tires and all-season tires to your customers, focusing on the benefits of winter tires: they improve traction, overall handling, and can significantly reduce braking distance on icy terrain. Winter tires are life savers in many regions of the country and definitely qualify as an “ethical” upgrade.

What Upsells Genuinely Help Your Customers?

Upsells are a fantastic way to help your customers while at the same time generating more revenue. Ethical upsells can build your reputation as an honest shop—not one of those outfits that tries to sell everything and an air freshener to folks who don’t actually need any of it.

Since all auto service providers have different niches, specialities, and target demographics, the two examples of ethical upsells provided above is in no way exhaustive. Consider the services and products you provide to your customers. What secondary or tertiary products and services would genuinely help them through an upsell?

If it’s been a while since you met with your team about upsells, consider examining your process and seeing where you could improve. This also doubles as a handy way to remind employees that they need to be upselling.

Ethical upselling will improve your reputation, income, and overall customer satisfaction. Get on it!

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