I can't think of a simpler, clearer way to communicate this point: If your service shop or tire dealership isn't committed to selling and promoting vehicle maintenance, you aren't keeping your eye on the proverbial ball.
As any sports fan knows, those who can't keep an eye on the ball typically lose the game-regardless of how much talent is on hand. Sports-wise, the advice to focus on the ball is vital, timeless advice. Likewise, promoting and selling vehicle maintenance from stem to stern is crucially important. I think it's timelier than ever for several reasons.
First, I think most readers will agree with the assertion that the automotive service market has never been more competitive than it is today. Everywhere I travel, owners and managers of all kinds of auto repair facilities offer that street-level opinion. Therefore, they're looking for every tool and technique they can find to keep up with or surpass the competition.
Second, more and more specialized service outlets are skimming off untold maintenance service opportunities and potential income for more traditional repair facilities such as service shops and tire dealerships.
For instance, you must have noticed the number of quick oil change operators that now offer everything from cooling system and air conditioning services to transmission fluid replacement and fuel system cleaning. Once these fellows draw in a motorist for the seemingly simple oil and filter replacement, they wisely comb the vehicle for every maintenance opportunity they can find.
Recognize it, readers: These specialists ``upsell'' services very, very well. Learn from them.
Third, slimmer profit margins and fewer new car sales have been forcing new car dealers to join the fray by taking vehicle service more seriously. You can read about this trend in Tire Business' sister publication, Automotive News, or simply pay closer attention to the signage on new car dealerships. Let me know how many of them have established quick-service bays or lanes to woo away motorists from the local ``quickie'' oil change operations and independent shops.
Watch the local advertisements and let me know how many of them are aggressively promoting expert, ``whole vehicle'' upkeep-and that, of course, includes tires.
Plus, the sharper car dealership managers also are pushing their service writers to upsell those maintenance opportunities. Rightfully, they view every oil change as a golden chance to eyeball each vehicle for additional work.
Fourth, more advanced technology and improved designs are diminishing the number and frequency of traditional maintenance service opportunities. For instance, check a variety of owners' manuals or consult with your technicians. Longer-life spark plugs, which stretch plug replacements into the stratosphere of 100,000 miles, are commonplace today.
What's more, common timing belt replacements used to be performed within the range of 60,000 to 90,000 miles. Today, recommended timing belt replacement often exceeds 90,000 miles. On some popular engines, long-life timing chain designs with automatic chain tensioners have eliminated timing belt service altogether.
Fifth, many parts throughout the vehicle seem to be lasting much longer than they did on the older cars. Therefore, it's wholly impractical-foolish, I say-for any service professional to sit around waiting for another water pump or ball joint failure to limp onto the property.
I urge you to evaluate how your local competition promotes maintenance. Review this material as well as the overall maintenance philosophy with your entire service team. Cull ideas from them and then plan ongoing promotions of your own. Remember that ongoing is the operative word here because ``maintenance ultimately saves money'' is a message that has to be conveyed constantly. If this was such an easy sale, everyone would be doing it well already.
Remember your coach badgering you that keeping an eye on the ball is the first step toward hitting it or catching it? The same holds true for selling maintenance services successfully. In fact, you might sell maintenance as if your business depended upon it. In fact, it does.
Finally, keep me posted on any sales and promotional techniques that are working best for your service shop or tire dealership.