Auto Shop Coaching Blog

How To Ask for the Sale Without Feeling Like a Jerk

“If you don’t ask, the answer is always NO.” Patricia Fripp

Does asking for the sale make you feel like a jerk? This is exactly how “Kim” felt. Kim was a service manager in a shop located in the Midwest who prided herself on her ability to profile her patrons to determine who would buy and who wouldn’t. She believed that presenting a high-dollar estimate to a first-time customer was bad for business.

One fateful day, her technicians handed her an estimate of over $2700 for a first-time customer named “Linda” who drove a luxurious, elegant, and stylish Geo Metro with 163,000 miles!

Kim’s goal was to present “the bad news” to Linda without being pushy. She had profiled Linda and determined that she would not invest in her car. Kim called her to review the estimate, and here’s how the call went:

“Linda, I have some bad news. Hopefully, you’re sitting down. You will need to have all four tires replaced, an alignment, new front and rear brake pads, an AC compressor, and a cabin air filter. I’m sorry, but your total price comes to $2720.”

Kim felt like a jerk! She was shocked by Linda’s response: “$2720? What a relief! I thought you would tell me it would take five grand to fix my car. Go ahead and do it! I would rather pay the $2720 than buy a new car!” As it turns out, Kim was wrong.

Have you ever profiled a customer and been proven wrong? Then, stay with me to learn two strategies to help you ask
for the sale without feeling like a jerk. If you embrace these strategies, your profiling days will end!

Ideas to grow your businessNon-ATI Members: Discover more valuable tips and strategies for how to sell, increase profits, and grow your business in ATI’s shop owner events. Register at

Embrace The Three Bs

When your mailman delivers a bill for a large amount, do you ever think: “This is unacceptable! I need to find a new mailman!”

NO! He’s just doing his job by delivering the message. Whatever you decide to do with the information is up to you. Since he didn’t create your bill or conspire with the collectors, he doesn’t feel like a jerk after he hands you your credit card statement.

When presenting future estimates, embracing The Three Bs will keep you from feeling like a jerk. When it comes to your customer’s car, The Three Bs can be summarized as follows: You didn’t Build it, Buy it, or Break it. Like the mailman, you are simply delivering the message.

Let’s stay with the mailman metaphor for a moment. Imagine how you would feel if you had to pay additional late charges because your carrier didn’t deliver the credit card bill to your house on time.

Now, imagine how your customer feels when she must pay for a parts failure because you didn’t communicate the maintenance recommendation on time. Embracing the Three Bs will keep you from feeling like a jerk and your customer from feeling the urge to go to your competition.

Use The Consistency Principle

In his book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Dr. Robert Cialdini introduces the consistency principle as a method of persuasion. He cites a study done on health centers that reduced their number of appointment no-shows by 18% by having the patients write down their appointment details and make a verbal commitment to come back as scheduled.

He also studied a restaurant that reduced its appointment no-show rate by 30% when they had their phone customers verbally commit to calling the restaurant before canceling their appointment. These studies prove that people like to stay consistent with things they previously said.

Making a quality visit to the car gives you an excellent opportunity to put the consistency principle to use. For example, when I worked as a service advisor, I visited the car with a customer and asked him: “How do you currently use the vehicle?” He replied: “I use this car to get back and forth to work. I plan to drive it until the wheels come off!”

We discovered that the vehicle was due for its 60K service. When I presented the estimate to him, I said, “John, we see that you are due for your 60K service. You mentioned that you wanted to drive it until the wheels come off, so investing in this service will allow you to do that!” And what was John’s response? “Go ahead and do it!”

I didn’t feel like a jerk because I simply restated what the customer told me he was looking for. Visiting the car will allow you to use the consistency principle and change how you feel about asking for the sale.


So, there you have it. Embracing the Three Bs and using the consistency principle will help you ask for the sale without feeling like a jerk. Unfortunately, Kim no longer works at the Midwest shop as the service manager. Applying these principles would have been a better path than profiling her customers.

Which path will you choose? If you just decided to apply the principles, then do it!

Non-ATI Members: For more tips on how to achieve your goals and run a productive, profitable shop, check out our shop owner events at

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Eric, the Accountability Coach, is an Executive Coach at ATI and has coached since 2009. Eric came to ATI having managed over 60 different automotive repair facilities and having supervised over 500 employees at a given time. He loves seeing members progress beyond what they thought was possible and improve their shop to the point where they can leave for weeks at a time and come back to a business that's better than when they left.