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Price Questions Over the Phone

Your phone rings and you get the usual question, “How much will this repair cost?” Many customers start with this question because they simply don’t know what else to ask when talking to mechanic. Yes, there will be times you will come into contact with customers who are just price shopping, but often you may be speaking with someone who just doesn’t know what they should be asking you.

According to a Google study on the auto repair industry, 81% of consumers say that they’re willing to pay more for quality service from a repair shop they trust. And in our research, we’ve found that 72% of car owners say that not knowing what repairs will cost makes them anxious. So, often what customers are asking when they ask about price is actually, “Can I trust you to take good care of my car and charge me fairly?”

When a prospect calls and asks how much it will cost to do a certain repair, you already know that you can’t insect the vehicle over the phone. Neither do you want to inspect it for free, especially if they don’t buy the repair.

Rather than blurting out a price, and then giving the caller a list of reasons why you can’t stand by that price, try saying something like this:

Question: What is your price on this repair?
You could reply: “OK, I can help you with that. What makes you feel that your car needs that repair?”

Or, “Yes, I am the one who would help you with that. What leads you to believe that your car needs that part replaced?”

Or, “That’s a little vague. I would hate to replace parts that your car doesn’t need. Can you tell me more about the problem you are having?”

Listen to their response, validate their concerns. Then you have three options:

  1. You can educate the consumer about some of the possible problems with their car and stress the importance of coming into your shop for a full inspection
  2. You can give them the price over the phone, or
  3. You can do both! But convincing someone to come in and let you inspect their vehicle first is a skill that not every service advisor possess and may take some time and experience to acquire.

So what if you don’t yet have the skills or you aren’t very good at convincing your customers to come in? Giving a price over the phone can be troublesome because you can never truly be sure of the problem without examining the vehicle, and giving a price quote over the phone may make you feel committed to that price. For those service advisors who like to give their customers a price, we recommend giving them a range. This will allay their fears and also doesn’t paint you into a pricing corner without seeing the vehicle first.

How do you determine a price range and explain it to your customer? You can provide a high and low quote based on your own pricing, with the caveat that you’ll need to see the vehicle to provide more specifics. You can also use our RepairPal Estimator, which has several advantages:

  1. For nervous consumers, it’s a trusted, third-party opinion, which can sell your pricing so you don’t have to – i.e. “Don’t take it from me, take it from this independent third-party.”
  2. It’s easy and fast to provide a price range over the phone that is both fair and shows your pricing is competitive with market rates.
  3. It can be used as an educational tool to explain to your customer the importance of using high-quality parts and the breakdown in parts and labor costs.

Essentially, you are being totally transparent with a customer whom you haven’t met in person yet and who is deciding whether they can trust you over the phone. Building this rapport over the phone will enable you to then stress the need for them to bring their car into the shop for a full quote.

The process of successfully winning a customer’s trust over the phone may be different for everyone, but starting out in neutral territory with third-party tools and validation, can be the bridge to helping you win a new, long-term customer.

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