Consistently Selling Maintenance Boosts Customer Satisfaction, ­Retention
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Consistently Selling Maintenance Boosts Customer Satisfaction, ­Retention

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Vehicle Maintenance advice

Air filters are an easy sell for Osceola Garage. The shop sold 30 during the two weeks, and ­shop owner Joe Marconi said it’s all about education.

While seasons change, your maintenance strategy should be consistent year-round.

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For this edition of ­Maintenance Chronicle, we take a snapshot of the maintenance sales of an 11-bay shop in ­upstate New York during a two-week ­period. What did we ­uncover? A quality maintenance-selling strategy provides ­consistent business all year-round, not just when the temperatures change.

Osceola Garage in Baldwin Place, NY, had 351 ­vehicles under its care during two weeks in mid/late-September. During those 12 days (the shop is open on ­Saturday), the shop performed 352 total maintenance services, for an ­average of nearly 30 ­maintenance-related jobs per day.

Shop Vitals

Bays: 11
Technicians: 6
Years in Business: 34
Work Week: Monday to Saturday
Two-Week Car Count: 351 vehicles
Two-Week Maintenance Sales Total: 352 services
Most Sales in a Day: 48

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selling oil serviceService Breakdown

LOF services easily led the way with 119 sales ­during the two weeks, a number that included no walk-ins because they took too much away from the scheduled appointments. Osceola recommends 4,000-mile intervals for conventional oil and 6,000 for synthetic for most cars.

“We set up a process where we book the next appointment and then send the customer a reminder,” said shop Owner Joe ­Marconi. “We even call the customer a few days prior to the next oil service as a reminder.”

Air filters are an easy sell for Osceola Garage. The shop sold 30 during the two weeks, and ­Marconi said it’s all about education.

“If you tell a customer they need an air filter, they might not know why,” he said. “Instead, tell the customer that the air filter’s job is to trap debris and filter the air that enters the ­engine, and when it becomes filled with debris, it will decrease engine performance and fuel economy and cost them more in the long run. We try to build value to make the sale.”

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Likewise, cabin air filters, which are sometimes a tough sell, are a sweet spot for Osceola Garage, coming in with 24 during the two-week period — an ­average of two a day.

Only nine fuel filters were sold during the two weeks, and Marconi said that’s a trend he’s seen the last few years.

“We don’t see a lot of fuel filters like we used to. We promote fuel treatments because of that,” he said.

Coolant service was one of the top jobs during the two weeks (26), and few customers, if any, brought their cars in for it.

“People are not used to bringing their cars in for service today, except for oil changes. We, as service professionals, must educate our customers and explain the benefits of the service.”

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Eight belts were replaced during the two weeks. Belts are another item that will not leap out and sell themselves. Marconi said all of the belt sales in his shop come after a multipoint inspection as he rarely sees belts break these days.

filtersMaintenance Sales At a Glance

                                                   Week 1       Week 2
Total Vehicles:………………….. 166……….. 185
Air Filters:………………………….15…………… 15
Battery:………………….. ………….5……………. 3
Belts:…………………………………  5……………. 3
Cabin Air Filters:……………….. 13………….. 11
Coolant Flush/Fill:……………. 10…………… 16
Fuel Filters:……………………….. 5……………. 4
Fuel Injector Cleaning:……….. 3……………. 2
Hoses:………………………………. 4……………. 4
Ignition (plugs/wires):…………. 4……………. 2
Lighting:………………………….. 13……………. 8
LOF Service:……………………. 52…………… 67
Shocks/Struts:…………………… 2…………….. 2
Tires:………………………………. 22…………… 20
Transmission Flush/Filter:….. 11…………… 13
Wiper Blades:…………………… 12…………….. 6

Year-Round Sales Plan

Marconi noted that the sales numbers in this two-week sample were on par with the shop’s typical maintenance sales averages. While the shop is a bit more proactive in the fall about encouraging sales of batteries, coolant services, wipers, tires and spark plugs, he said maintenance sales are normally steady all year, thanks to the shop’s regular inspection and sales routine. Only coolant sales typically show a boost this time of year.

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“I tell my service advisers that every car in the shop today will need another service and/or repair in the future,” he said. “We identify at least two future services for all vehicles at car delivery: the next oil change service and the next major service or needed repair. This is the only way to ensure that we maintain customer satisfaction and, more importantly, customer ­retention.”

The shop has moved away from coupons and mailed promotions as a way of promoting services because “they don’t work the way they once did. People are bombarded today with too many offerings.” Osceola is an established shop in its market, with a regular customer following, so its maintenance strategy is ­focused on treating those ­vehicles the right way and ­educating those drivers.

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“Every car gets a multipoint inspection, we review vehicle history with each ­customer and we look for ways to design preventive maintenance plans that fit the particular needs of the customer,” he said.

car inspection tipsMaintenance Customer Profile

A standardized maintenance ­recommendation plan is key for identifying all of the necessary services a vehicle needs and ­effectively communicating with the customer, but not all ­customers are created equal. Certain customers who come into your shop will simply be more receptive to vehicle maintenance recommendations.

“Customers who plan on keeping their cars longer ­understand the need for preventive maintenance and are usually more open to services and repairs that will ­extend the life of their car and ­prevent breakdowns,” Marconi said. “We identify those customers who rely on their car, drive a lot and plan on keeping their car a long time. We make them understand that we will recommend services that may not be in the owner’s manual, but a lot of necessary services are not in the book, such as tires, wipers and brakes. So, just because a fluid isn’t in the manual doesn’t mean it never needs changing.”

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At Osceola Garage, most customers call for ­appointments, with about 15% booking online through the shop website.
There is no real difference between the two types of customers, but there is a difference in those who drop their car off and those who wait for a job to finish. Customers who drop off will typically buy more services.

“Our good customers will listen to us and perform the maintenance we recommend. Our ‘not so good’ customers don’t usually listen. Those are the ones who come in with vehicle problems. It all ­depends on how proactive we are at the service counter,” explained Marconi.

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6th Day Maintenance Sales

Not all shops are open on Saturdays, but it is clearly an important day for Osceola Garage. The car counts aren’t huge (41 in two days), but the maintenance sales are double (92 in two days), as regulars arrive who couldn’t stop by during the week.

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