Successfully promoting automotive maintenance requires putting the cost into perspective and then performing the work while the vehicle is healthy.
Years of field experience have convinced me that paying lip service to these mandates is very easy.
But actually accomplishing these two steps is challenging, to say the least. Based on my observations, a relatively small percentage of service sales people promote maintenance consistently and successfully.
Some tire dealers and service shop operators may agree with this assessment. Try observing the service sales teams at various automotive service facilities throughout the country.
Let me know how maintenance service sales are going. If sales are brisk, take notes.
In previous columns, I have said I "cut my teeth" in the traditional, full-service service stations of the late 1960s. Back then, oil company representatives stressed that selling maintenance did more than increase customer satisfaction,; it strengthened customer loyalty.
Performing regular maintenance also presented a golden opportunity for technicians to inspect each car visually for legitimate repair opportunities. Being the first ones to identify these opportunities gave them a sizable advantage over their competition in a cutthroat marketplace.
Some tire dealers and service shop operators treat this approach as if it's some well-kept secret — an auto service epiphany. I call it an age-old but undervalued method.
To me, the overall value of selling maintenance is as valid today as it ever has been. Sadly, however, some service sales pros and techs just don't embrace it. Instead, they behave as if promoting maintenance was a shameless hustle of the motoring public.
A recent example of this distrust of, and discomfort with, promoting maintenance came from the mouths of a shop foreman and techs at a large new-car dealership.
For instance, they were especially skeptical of selling regular fluid replacement on automatic transmissions.
What's more, I saw a posting on an online forum that seemed to thoroughly discredit a motorist's estimate for fluid replacement out of hand — as if automotive fluids lasted forever.