Zimbrick Buick West in Madison, Wis., has a special Pit Stop lane where customers can get tire pressures checked, wiper fluid topped off and other such minor servicesall without an appointment and at no charge.
That's right. No charge.
Pit Stop is designed to bring customers back for more service businessand maybe to buy a new or used car, said Tony Maglio, service and parts director at Zimbrick Buick.
General Motors Co. is encouraging its car dealers to adopt the Pit Stop program to help their service departments build relationships with customers, said Heather Lossing, manager of customer retention at GM Service and Parts Operations.
Ms. Lossing said GM began Pit Stop in January 2009 to spread good practices at GM dealerships. Dealer participation is voluntary and free.
The company suggests that participating dealers devote a space in their service departments to Pit Stop. Service should take no more than 10 to 15 minutes.
Tasks typically include topping off fluids, checking wiper blades and checking tire tread and pressure. Sometimes all a customer wants is air in a tire or windshield wiper fluid.
Ms. Lossing said GM does not track how many dealers are participating.
GM planned to begin Web-based training to help dealers set up a Pit Stop in their stores.
It's a way to show customers that the dealerships care about them, that they care about their vehicle and they care about their ownership experience, Ms. Lossing said.
Interaction with patrons
Eric Hammond, service director at Williams Chevrolet in Elkton, Md., began Pit Stop last July.
The dealership's new-car customers are invited to bring their vehicles back to the store a month after the purchase to have the fluids topped off and tire pressure checked. Mr. Hammond's technicians perform the service with the customer at their sides. The salesperson who sold the vehicle is invited to join in, too.
They get the opportunity to meet the service adviser and interact with the technician and see some inner workings, Mr. Hammond said, so when they're due for their first maintenance they come back to the dealership, vs. them thinking they can get an oil change anywhere.
Dave Musgrove, service manager at Colonial Buick-Pontiac-GMC in Watertown, Mass., said his technicians will conduct all the routine tasks and sit in the car with the customer to check for illuminated service lights and do a walk-around to check for dings and dents.
With the customer's permission or at their request, technicians will put the vehicle on a lift to do a more thorough examination of the engine, transmission, battery, brakes, belts, hoses and filters. That takes about 30 minutes.
That way the customer can see what's going on, Mr. Musgrove said. It's an education, and makes the customer feel more comfortable with us.
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