Labor Rate of Return on Investment – This article will drip with sarcasm. My catchy “Wheel of Fortune”-like slogan is a play on our Labor involved, and the return we all get for the Investment. At the time of this writing, our office is calling individual shops throughout the region to obtain their current posted/retail labor rate information, as well as additional questions relating to marketplace conduct by them and insurance representatives. It’s a truly harrowing task, calling you guys. We’re doing you a favor by putting this information together, so that you have some barometer of what our industry is REALLY doing. Data that is usable by all of us.

Our Industry Needs Phone Skills

For some helpful feedback, I’d like to give you some insight into what it’s like to talk to, well, you. Here’s some insight into the experience, and what you could learn from us.

You may have been the one getting the phone call, but also likely it was a receptionist or front desk person, or much worse, the voicemail machine. Any which way it’s sliced, the majority of you do NOT participate. That can be for several reasons. The receptionist is like a highly skeptical, expertly trained junkyard dog – which we must maneuver to gain “entry” to the manager or person holding the information at ransom. If we get past the dog that’s sure we’re selling something, we are met with another level of skepticism from the gatekeeper. That’s you.

I know that many of you are afraid of sharing that your “partners” will somehow find out – and that is a myth. We do not disclose ANY personal information, but we know why it makes you cringe anyway.

Here’s the real deal:

Ring, Ring, Ring…

When answered, we get everything from “Hmph?” – something resembling Hello, but not really, to “Thank you for calling ‘Joe’s Collision’ how may I help you?”

Response: “Hi, this is Jordan Hendler, with the Washington Metro Auto Body Association and Hammer & Dolly Magazine. We’re calling for our 3rd annual labor rate survey. It takes about 3 minutes over the phone or we can email you a link to do the survey online.”

Here is an array of what follows:

“Uh…… I can’t do that right now.” click.

“I’m busy right now, call me back later.” Click.

“My hands are full.” How did you pick up the phone?

“I’m not sure what you’re talking about, can you call tomorrow?”

“The guy you want isn’t here, and we don’t know when he’ll be here.”

So, my deduction is simple. If someone that is a CUSTOMER were to call and ask this very same question, what would you prey-tell give them as an answer? Think about it.

Your homework:

Make sure your entire staff are aware of your retail rates (not an agreement rate) and that whenever a potential customer calls, they won’t get the run-around that we experience for the survey. Have a documented procedure to capture that customer rather than scare them away.