Auto Shop Coaching Blog

Top 5 Phone Mistakes That Are Costing Your Auto Shop Money

As a shop owner, your focus is on making sure you have plenty of work coming in your doors to keep your technicians productive. If your phones are ringing but the bays are empty, you need to pay attention to what is happening in between. Your first contact with a prospective customer may be your last. Here are the top 5 mistakes I see auto repair staff make on customer calls:

1. Rushing Through the Greeting

This is the most frequent mistake I run into with auto repair shops. I often have to ask them to confirm that I’ve called the right shop because I couldn’t understand what they said – or they started talking before my call was fully connected and I didn’t hear anything (this is common with VOIP systems). Failing to identify who the caller is speaking with is also part of this mistake. The absolute basics every person who answers the phone at your shop should be doing is clearly saying the name of the shop, identifying themselves and asking the caller “how may I help you?” in a friendly and unrushed way.

2. Long Waits on Hold

Putting customers on hold should be a rare experience. If you must put someone on hold, ask permission and get back to them in less than a minute. And please, put yourself on hold and listen to what they experience. Is your message on hold up to date, friendly, highlighting the various benefits of choosing you? Is it loud, anger-inducing music? Or is it silence or clicks that may make them think they’ve been disconnected?

Ideas to grow your businessWant more tips for how to improve your phone skills, increase your bottom-line, and grow your business? Discover valuable, easy-to-implement ideas and strategies in ATI’s shop owner events. Register today at

3. Tone of Voice

You can hear a smile over the phone. You can also hear a frown. If your service advisor sounds annoyed, frustrated, inconvenienced by the caller then you are asking that caller to go elsewhere with their business. Put a mirror beside the phone with a note that says “SMILE.” Yes, this works and it works very well.

4. Lack of Telephone Skills Training

The caller is not your enemy, but failing to train your service advisor to handle callers is. If you never created scripts for handling price shoppers or making follow-up calls or scheduling appointments – if you’ve never practiced (role-played) with your service advisor so they are prepared for those calls – then you, the shop owner, are setting them up for failure. Just because they know how to pick up the receiver doesn’t mean they know what to do after that.

5. Diagnosing and/or Pricing Over the Phone

This is the #1 worst mistake your service advisors are making. And yes they are doing it. It’s convenient to take a guess on what is wrong based on the symptoms. It’s quick and easy to give a price for a standard repair. And it’s perpetuating the myths that diagnostics have no real value and price is all that matters. Stop it. Now. Today.

Want to fix these mistakes in your auto repair shop? In a previous article, I shared tips on maximizing every phonecall and get more appointments. The best way to maximize your chances of having a highly successful shop is to work with a proven strategy for that success. At ATI, we partner with auto repair and collision shop owners to help them achieve their goals and dreams.

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Charlene is an Executive Coach at ATI, a Certified Profit First Professional, a former shop owner, and has been coaching since 2014. Charlene helps clients find the right solutions to their challenges and encourages them to make the changes that result in having the life they dreamed about when they got into business ownership.