What’s your definition of preventive maintenance? Does it differ from your definition of scheduled maintenance?
The term “preventive maintenance” is often used interchangeably with “scheduled maintenance,” but there’s a difference. Preventive maintenance means recommending the service or replacement of certain parts because they are wearing out and nearing the end of their useful life. Repair or replacement is recommended to prevent a failure, or to minimize the risk of a breakdown or damage to other components. Preventive maintenance may also include adjustments (such as a wheel realignment or a brake fluid flush) to restore proper performance or to extend the life of various components.
What then is scheduled maintenance? It is the adjustment or replacement of certain components according to a time and/or vehicle mileage table per the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations or warranty requirements. As you know, scheduled maintenance normally includes things like oil and filters, chassis lubrication (if required), coolant and spark plugs.
The essence of preventive maintenance, therefore, is preventing breakdowns and major repairs by replacing, adjusting or servicing worn or damaged components or systems before they break, fail or cause additional trouble. Preventing breakdowns seems like something all your customers should be interested in having you do. But how do you sell it?
Scheduled maintenance allows you to refer to the owner’s manual or another authoritative figure that has set down some guidelines. Preventive maintenance, on the other hand, doesn’t have any fancy books to help make the sale. That means you have to sell it using your knowledge and vehicle repair expertise, complemented by your constant efforts of educating customers of the value of proper vehicle maintenance.
Customers should understand that the parts on their vehicles are wearing all the time and will eventually fail — regardless of the cost or make and model of the vehicle. I think most drivers are in denial about this and really need constant reminding of this simple fact. Every time a tow truck drops off a vehicle at your shop, you need to review that customer’s file and see what services had been recommended at a previous service appointment. There are a lot of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” customers out there. Maybe next time they will listen to you.