Contact fleet managers...

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Skyykeeper
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Contact fleet managers...

Post by Skyykeeper » July 19th, 2013, 8:40 am

Hello to everyone!

I've been reading the forum for awhile now, and would just like to say that it has been a wonderful reference for me as I begin to dig in to the WSR business. I purchased a kit last September with training, and have since been logging hours on my practice glass and doing some repairs for friends. The forum has been an invaluable resource along the way, and I have found the answers to most of the questions that I have had come up. I would like to thank all of you for your contributions here, as I would have been lost without this forum! I am starting to feel more confident in my repairs and feel that I am about ready to start exchanging my repairs for actual money! In addition to the practice, I have also been working on marketing, business cards, website, licensing, insurance, and all of the less fun, however necessary, administrative tasks that go along with running the business side of things.

I plan to target fleet work primarily, as I live in a large metro area with plenty of potential clients. I also want to go after whatever retail business I can find, but want to build a good foundation of fleet work to hopefully provide a consistent base that will help to fund my retail marketing efforts. At the moment I plan to just chase after cash repairs, as the insurance work seems to be quite a hassle in some form or another, especially for someone just starting out in this business. It seems that insurance work would be pretty sparse anyway, at least until I build somewhat of a solid reputation for quality work. I despise the pushy, sales oriented car wash guys that run around with an injector and a lighter doing cruddy repair jobs that look like junk. I like to take my time, be professional, dependable, and at this point work on quality over quantity. I believe the quantity will come when the quality is there...

So, all of this being said, I can finally get to my question for all of you seasoned veterans out there that have already helped me out so much by posing on the forum. I'd like to thank you all officially, just so you know that even though this is my first post, you have all been helping me tremendously for months now!!! Now for my question:

I would like to know what your most successful methods for gaining an audience with fleet managers are. I am having some trouble getting in touch with the right person at several companies. I am targeting plumbing, HVAC, construction, pest control, etc. fleets, and when calling on these companies, whether in person or on the phone, you inevitably have to break through their first line of defense, the receptionist. Many of them say they will pass along my information to their manager, but I often question whether this ever happens, and I have not received any call backs. I like to visit in person and drop off marketing materials, as I know then at least they have something tangible to hand to the manager if I can't get through to see them. But many times I feel like my marketing collateral meets the trash can long before it goes on a managers desk. I go in with my best professional and friendly attitude, dressed nicely, and have never had a problem with any hostility, as I like to be very low pressure and go in looking to make a friend before looking to make a sale, even offering a few free demos just to get my foot in the door. I admit, I don't have much sales experience, but I know that I am a friendly and approachable person, and have no problem chatting it up with people. I think my biggest challenge is finding the balance between being assertive enough to make a sale without coming across as "salesy", as that is a huge turn off to me, and I always go for the "treat others as you want them to treat you" approach.

Does anyone have any tips on getting through to the people who make decisions on fleet maintenance? I know that I have to be persistent, and just continue contacting them without pestering them. Maybe I'm hoping for things to move along more quickly than they are, and I know patience is a virtue, it's a marathon not a race, etc.... You all have been so much help at this point, so I though I would toss it out there to see if I gain gather some thoughts from your collective experience... I am looking forward to speaking with all of you and posting more on the forum as I go along. Again, thank you all so much for the help!

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Brent Deines
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Re: Contact fleet managers...

Post by Brent Deines » July 19th, 2013, 4:15 pm

Chocolate chip cookies and an offer to do one free repair to showcase my skills has gotten me past most receptionists. Doesn't always happen on the first visit but on the 2nd visit we are on a 1st name basis and they remember the cookies. Remember her kids and pets names and be sure to ask about them on the 2nd visit.

Other than cookies I'm not real big on giveaways but have found a lot of fleet managers and nearly all mechanics love hats and knives. There are some pretty cool promotional knives that are very inexpensive and having one to give to the fleet manager sometimes helps get past the receptionist because of course you have to deliver it personally.

I also have pretty good luck using the shop entrance. As a former tool salesman I learned that you never ignore the receptionist or the fleet manager, but the quicker you get on good terms with the mechanics the better and the fastest way to meet the mechanics is to walk through the shop door. There are times when someone will stop you and give you a reprimand for using the shop door, but if you immediately apologize and explain that you were just looking for the fleet manager to deliver a gift (see last paragraph), I've rarely had a problem. If you are in any way uncomfortable with walking through the shop door don't do it. Like dogs, mechanics can smell fear a mile away and will eat you alive. If you are a woman you have it made. When my wife used to go through the shop door the problem was never that they would through her out, but rather how I was going to get her out. The logging and trucking companies in our area wouldn't give me the time of day but they would drop everything to talk to my wife.

Whatever you do, do it with confidence. You are there to make money by saving the company money. If you don't believe that you'll have a hard time convincing others to believe it.
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Skyykeeper
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Re: Contact fleet managers...

Post by Skyykeeper » July 21st, 2013, 4:59 pm

Thanks for your input Brent! My wife makes excellent oatmeal cookies, so I will definitely give that a go, and I like the idea of giving out promo items on occasion. I know that I need to work on my sales approach more than anything, and remember to go in to shop looking to make friends before looking to make a sale. I appreciate the feedback!

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Re: Contact fleet managers...

Post by Brent Deines » July 22nd, 2013, 6:15 pm

Let me know how it goes with the cookies. If it doesn't work you may need to send me a dozen to make sure they are good enough. :D
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Re: Contact fleet managers...

Post by screenman » July 23rd, 2013, 3:07 am

I would agree with everything Brent says, I also have built my business on fleet customers and feel it is the way to go.

As for home made cookies, I for one would eat more than I gave away.

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Re: Contact fleet managers...

Post by Skyykeeper » July 23rd, 2013, 3:34 pm

Lol Screenman! That is pretty much what happens around here, a cookie baked is a cookie eaten, by ME!

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Re: Contact fleet managers...

Post by EMCAutoGlass » May 5th, 2014, 4:59 pm

I'd like to reinvigorate a discussion on fleet accounts and found this to be the most recent/relevant discussion. I have only done retail work over the last year and I'm just starting to dive into fleet accounts, which isn't going all that well. I noticed that some members on this forum do very well with fleets, so your input would be greatly appreciated. The most common reply I get from nearly every large fleet is that they have a contract with Safelite. And that's not just their local franchise or region, but it's a nationwide mandate from their corporate office. I talked to a company who managed a nationwide fleet of moving trucks and they told me their contract with Safelite is for $30/repair! The fleet manager was nice and kept my information "on file" but I doubt anything will come from it. I generally receive the same responses from car rental agencies as well. So, any recommendations from getting past this barrier? Should I start looking at smaller fleets? I had some luck with a small local company (lawn/weed control) with a 7-vehicle fleet, and I'm doing a couple repairs for them tomorrow. I figure it's a good start, but any suggestions on getting past the "Safelite contract" response, or any suggestions for good smaller companies you guys have found to not have Safelite contracts would be appreciated. I'm going to contact my local city's fleet management department in person soon. Anyone have any success with city fleets?
Thanks in advance for you replies and suggestions!
-Marty

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Re: Contact fleet managers...

Post by h2oman » May 6th, 2014, 6:10 am

Just starting over again in my area, I am finding out a lot of things have changed over the years and I am also trying to figure out how to get into these fleet accounts. The city I live in is around 150,000 and with in the working area is right at 250,000. What I am finding out is there are a lot and I mean a lot of small guys like me out there hitting the streets. They may appear to be somewhat dependable but they not very smart and they will mess up and I will be there to pick the business up.
I am not a LLC but a sole proprietor however I just recently found out that most of these other little guys are not LLC's and more importantly they are not licensed to work in the city and they do not have liability insurance coverage. I purchased 1,000,000. of liability and I now will use that to try to pick up some of these fleet accounts. Ask yourself this.....If I were a business owner of one of these small or large fleet companies or trucking companies, do I want anyone working on my vehicles who has no liability coverage? I don't think so..... With no coverage and you fall or cut yourself or something real bad happens, who is going to have to fit that bill? I will assure my customers they don't have anything to worry about.
As for "Safelite", once you do figure it out, move quietly and never wake a sleeping giant but, they can be beat sooner or later.

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Re: Contact fleet managers...

Post by EMCAutoGlass » May 6th, 2014, 9:01 am

Good points h2oman, thanks. Yes, I am fully insured up to $1m as well, and that is a good selling point to bring up with potential fleet managers. I have met one other repairman in my area and he doesn't have insurance, so I kind of figure most of the one-man shops around don't carry insurance. I'm trying to craft my strategy to combat the "Safelite contracts" and I'm not really big enough to compete for the "national company-wide contracts", but I'm going to target some smaller, local fleets. My business strategy is quality, not price. I don't guarantee that I'll be done in 10 minutes, and I don't care if it takes me 45 minutes or an hour to get the job done right. It's very rare to spend that long on a repair, but I'll do it, and I guarantee Safelite won't spend the time to get it done right if it's not done in 10 minutes. My thought is that Safelite can charge less per repair because they know that they'll get paid a full rate to replace the windshield when their repair fails. In the long run, companies are actually losing money. Safelite replacements (retail) are about twice as much as anywhere else, and they use bulk-ordered junk from China. Hopefully I can find some companies in my area which allow their local/regional managers to decide who does their WSR, rather than being dictated by their corporate HQ. Just getting in the door and doing a free demo, then comparing it to a past Safelite repair on another vehicle will show them the quality of my service. I had a retail job last year with a repair right next to a repair done by Safelite. The customer was amazed at how much better my repair was.
Thanks,
Marty

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