Some Advice For Service Departments

Here's some great advice for service departments. Many service departments have a follow up mailing or email for oil changes or other service offers. Some even use that database to send periodic emails about special sales of cars and trucks. Great.

In my travels as a body rep for a large body company (about 25,000 miles a year), I would need an oil change about once a month or so. I would have it done a various places and at dealerships I would call on as well. Only two of these places have ever followed up with me at all. One of them sends me emails about service and sales. The other sends me a letter in an envelope about once every six months to a year. The second one is a total waste of money. It is poorly written, contains pool information and frankly, it would do nothing to encourage me to come back into the dealership for any service. I applaud the dealership who is forward thinking enough to send the email, but the email is of no importance to me. It does not help me in any way. It could be so much more effective at both stores. Last, all the ones who have not bothered to follow up at all, you are all missing huge income potential.

There's a better way. I recommend that you put together a good HTML newsletter in a consistent format and then jam it with great and valuable information for a wide variety of clients. Have some tips on how to save money on services, facts that a lot of people don't know, photos of sale items like tires, batteries, accessories, etc. Send that out about once a month. Make it so valuable that people will love to get it because of the value of the content and the pleasant design of the HTML newsletter.

Next. On regular services like oil changes. Find out how many miles they drive on average and set up a schedule of special email reminders just before that time--AND, make an offer that will encourage them to come in! The key point here is to know the driving habits of your clients. The two dealers I mentioned above do not know how often I need oil changes, so they are all over the map on communicating with me. They might as well not waste the energy or postage. They should be sending me an oil change coupon once a month! Don't just remind me, but entice me. Do you realize how many places I can get my oil changed and the last place I really want to go to is a dealership. It just seems to take longer at a dealership, so I have to have another reason to be there. When I want an oil change, I want to be in and out as quickly as I can.

Here's another idea. I have given this to many dealers. Look at your oil change revenue. Chances are it is not very good. There are many places very near dealerships that offer very inexpensive oil changes. Competition is fierce. I suggest that you market your oil changes at a very attractive price at about break even. I recommend $19.95 for the typical vehicle, more for diesels which require more expensive oil filters, but make the diesel price similar in concept.

Now, advertise this constantly. As customers come in, do everything you can to upsell. I don't mean in a shady self-serving way, but I certainly appreciate it when I am told and shown that I need an air filter and why along with other typical maintenance things. Here is where you make your profits. Its like a grocery store selling mayonnaise for $2.49 instead of $5.69. When they come in for the mayonnaise, then the remember they need this, and that, and this, and that, and this, and more of that. There's the profits! The mayonnaise is the draw.

Make the oil change a draw for your service. Here's another good reason why: people need it often and regularly! Make sure and keep good records of what you have sold them in the past so you don't oversell. Better to skip the upsell this time to ensure the continued patronage.

One last thing: make your oil change fast. Develop a system to handle the increased business and move them in an out quickly. Busy people want speed and effective service.

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