I was standing outside of a Jiffy Lube the other day waiting for my Jeep to get an inspection. It’s the only service I can’t do myself, so I have to pay someone else to do it. I used to have a really nice guy at a local shop do my inspections, but we are too far away now that we moved. I don’t feel like driving 30 minutes away to get an inspection when I can get one from the biggest oil change chain, which is only five minutes away. As I was standing outside enjoying the light rain, I heard an employee speaking with a customer in line ahead of me. He was also getting an inspection.
Unfortunately, his car failed due to cracked windshield wiper blades. Now, to me that is no problem. I could just jump in my Jeep, drive down to the Walmart, and pick some up for less than $15. Yes, John and I both have a strong distaste for Walmart, but they do have cheap things like wiper blades.
Anyway, as I was standing there, I could feel what was about to happen. The dreaded upsell. The employee was looking at the customer and I think I saw him lick his lips. It was like shooting fish in a barrel. If you aren’t aware, upselling is where an employee will work to sell you higher priced goods or add-on services to your existing order. This is where companies like Jiffy Lube make their money. Many car shops have to do the upsell. They don’t make much money from basic services.
The Jiffy Lube Customer Took the Bait
It didn’t take but a few seconds for the customer to take the bait. The employee really did a good job with selling the wiper blades. He told the customer he had three versions to choose from and even gave him a “discount.” Now, as I was standing there shaking my head, I realized this customer was just making a quick decision because it was offered to him. He might have not cared about the price (about 3X the price you could buy wiper blades at Walmart) or he didn’t want to deal with it.
Either way, the upsell worked like a charm. In the matter of seconds, this customer went from just getting his inspection done to buying $40 wiper blades just to pass.
Seriously, in a matter of seconds his man lost out on $25 just because he didn’t take a step back and go through the purchase decision. To me, I would rather save the $25 and go get the wiper blades. Yes, you have to take into account the driving and coming back to finish the inspection, but since two car parts stores and a Walmart are across the street, I think we can add a negligible $0.50 to the total, maybe even $1. Still, well worth it in my mind.
Why Upselling Works
I have seen many upsells in my lifetime. I have done quite a few as well. I used to run an online e-commerce company, so upselling was part of the process. Face the facts, a business owner makes more money when they upsell customers. I don’t fault them for doing it, but I do try to be really cognizant of the upsell process. Upselling works because it puts consumers in a spot to make a quick and sometimes rash decision.
In the case of the wiper blades, the employee said he failed and with wiper blades (which they had on site), he could pass and be on his way. The employee did the upsell right. He gave him an option to get him out of the shop quicker. Yes, it cost much more, but it was more convenient.
When consumers don’t have enough time to make proper decisions, especially financial ones, they tend to make poor decisions. We can’t possibly get enough information in the matter of a few minutes to make a good decision. This is what makes upselling thrive in service oriented businesses like Jiffy Lube.
How to Counteract the Upsell
In order to make the best decision you can in an upsell, you have to know you are in an upsell. A dead giveaway that you’re entangled in one is having an employee try to add on other services or say you might want to add this or that to help you. They are typically very nice about it and say it will improve this or save you money down the road. Upselling is incredibly obvious to most of us, but when we are busy and not paying attention, we can let it slip by.
To counteract an upsell, you need to be on your toes and be willing to say no. Saying no isn’t going to hurt anyone’s feelings. If you have ever been in sales, you know you will hear ten “no’s” before you hear one “yes.” That is the nature of the game. With most of us having smartphones in our pockets, we can easily get the required information we need to make a more informed decision. You will need to delay the upsell to do your proper research.
Don’t be afraid to tell an employee to wait while you look up some information about their request. Remember, upselling happens many times a day in almost every industry. “Do you want fries with that” rings a bell for most. Sometimes we fall right into the sell and other times we stand there and shake our heads. The point is upselling can push us to make quick decisions, which aren’t necessarily in our best interest. We have to understand that and work to counteract the art of upselling.
Do you notice when you are being upsold on a product or service? How do you deal with the practice? Looking back, when was the last time you fell for an upsell in a time crunch? If you were facing the same situation today, would you still say yes?
Photo courtesy of: ** RCB **