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Published on November 27, 2007

Maintenance remains an opportunity

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Opinion

AKRON (Nov. 19, 2007) — You're getting better at cutting away at that huge pie of unperformed vehicle maintenance work—but there's still work to be done.


The Car Care Council (CCC) estimates that in 2006 there was $53 billion worth of unperformed vehicle maintenance in the U.S. marketplace.


The good news: This was down some $9 billion from the previous four years.


Those needed repairs didn't just go away. What's happened, according to the CCC, is consumers seem to have become more aware of the importance of vehicle maintenance, especially as it relates to safety, vehicle longevity and fuel economy.


And increasingly, vehicle owners are asking for the CCC's car care guides and searching for vehicle maintenance information on the Internet.


The question for independent tire dealers and other tire and automotive service repair outfits is: Are you getting your share of this business? If not, you may be letting lucrative sales opportunities pass you by.


Citing statistics from this year's Car Care Month vehicle inspection reports, the CCC said 26 percent of vehicles had low or dirty engine oil, 23 percent had low washer fluid, 14 percent had low tire pressure and 13 percent had the dashboard “check engine” light on.


These are the types of services offered by many tire dealerships, even those not heavily involved in automotive service.


Another CCC study turned up interesting data about who is more apt to have their vehicles maintained regularly.


In this survey of motorists with primary responsibility for car maintenance, the organization found that among different ethnic groups, 87 percent of Hispanic respondents said they were maintaining their vehicles better. This compares with 77 percent of African-Americans and 71 percent of Asians.


Tire dealers should consider this valuable information in evaluating whether their own operations are effectively addressing the strong demand for vehicle maintenance work, especially as the median age of vehicles on the road continues to increase.


Are fluids and brakes checked every time a vehicle comes in for service, even if it's for a quick-and-dirty tire rotation?


Does the dealership service manager check records for when the last maintenance service was performed and then relay this information to the customer?


Are marketing efforts targeted effectively?


Certainly these proactive types of activities require more effort by a dealership's staff. But with increasing numbers of people keeping their cars longer and understanding the value of proper vehicle maintenance, this is well worth the extra work.


In such an environment, tire dealers, with their entrepreneurial approach to business, focus on customer service and competitive pricing, should be taking their share of the pie—not leaving it on the table for a competitor to grab.

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