In order to reflect the fact that cars today last well over 100,000 miles, as well as emphasize a company-wide commitment to helping their customers get the most from their vehicles, Merlin Muffler & Brake shops across the country have changed their name to Merlin 200,000 Mile Shops.
The name change is meant to better communicate the chain’s long-term strategy of dominating a poorly served market within the auto maintenance and repair industry and capitalize on a major consumer trend, according to Frank Smola, president of Merlin’s Franchising, Inc.
"We believe our new name explains our commitment to long-term customer relationships, yet it does not confine us to specific automotive technologies. It quantifies what we are trying to do for our customers, which is to help them receive the full life of their automobiles," Smola said.
All 200,000 Mile Shops provide both repair and prevention services as well as tires almost anything automotive a consumer would need during the first 200,000 miles of their car’s life (except car washes, major engine, transmission and collision repair). Merlin also offers its proprietary maintenance product – "The Drive for 200,000" – which is a comprehensive program of regular inspections, scheduled maintenance and preemptive replacement that is far more cost effective for the consumer than many car dealer’s maintenance programs, according to the company. Merlin’s "Drive for 200,000" eliminates certain unnecessary services that may characterize competitors’ programs. Its purpose is to help vehicles last beyond 300,000 miles, the company claims.
One of the fastest growing groups of automobile owners are those keeping their cars beyond 125,000 miles. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study released earlier this year reported that typical passenger cars are now lasting 150,000 miles or more, while pickups and SUV’s are lasting 180,000 miles or more. The report noted that 79 percent of 10-year old passenger cars are still on the road, an increase of 7 percentage points over the same statistic from NHTSA’s 1995 study.
"Following ‘The Drive for 200,000’ and delaying another 60-month round of car payments can mean a better life. Based on an average car payment of $400 a month or $4,800 each year, minus $750 a year in regular maintenance (oil changes, tire rotations etc.) and $900 a year in routine repairs (brakes, mufflers etc.), we estimate a customer can save over $3,000 a year by keeping their car, extending its life, and avoiding new car payments. And just think of what you could do with that extra money," said Smola.
"We’ve been helping our customers win the battle against premature car payments for years," Smola said. "Our new name and ‘The Drive’ program will equip us to deliver on that promise in a much better way. And while we are helping the motoring public go farther, we will also be assisting our franchisees and shop employees to also go farther and maximize their full potentials."