A maintenance plan can make all the difference.
It’s very easy for many of us to say we don’t have time to do something. We’re too busy running the shop, we have too many R/Os we need to get through, we’re two technicians short, and the list goes on.
Yet, when you get through that list of vehicles, it’s February and the shop is quiet, you’re often sitting there waiting for the phone to ring. And have you asked yourself why? It could be for a number of reasons, but one of the most important ones might be because you don’t have your customers on a maintenance plan.
Let’s take an example. You have a customer that has a vehicle equipped with gasoline direct injection. Over time, the valves build up with carbon deposits, which can cause serious drivability issues. To take the engine apart and clean them takes several hours, and your customer will likely end up with a repair bill for $600 or more. Alternatively, you can explain to the customer that every 40,000 km you can run an additive through the engine and prevent carbon build-up at a cost of $158. When you have a service advisor and/or a technician that is able to explain that, it becomes a no brainer for the customer.
When you have a maintenance plan for your customers, no matter the time of year (even during traditionally slow periods) it can make a difference, such as being $20,000 ahead this February versus the previous year.
Executing a maintenance plan successfully requires input from the whole team, from the owner/store manager down to the front-line counter staff and the technicians.
Level of comprehension
Every customer who comes into the shop is different. Some might have fairly extensive automotive knowledge while others might have none at all. It can be very intimidating for some customers to take their car into a repair shop if they don’t know much about vehicles. If your counter staff are able to explain to them at a level they can comprehend, it can make all the difference. A good example is changing a cabin filter. You could say, “I need to remove the accelerator and pull out the cabin filter and it will take an hour to do the work.” But doing so could still leave the customer wondering why it needs to be done. If, alternatively, you were to say that “your cabin air filter performs a similar function to the furnace filter in your house and needs to be changed every 40,000 km so it works to keep dirt and other foreign objects from entering your car,” it can completely change the situation.
At the end of the day, your staff need to have the right tools to do their job properly, whether it’s a wrench or impact gun or strategies for talking to your customers. If there is some sort of procedure you have in place and your staff are able to articulate that vision at the front counter, you can plant the seed within your customers and show them what their vehicles need and why.
You can then provide a plan for when they need to schedule maintenance, how much it will cost and why. The result allows the customer to budget for the repairs, and it allows your technicians to work more efficiently because they know ahead of time exactly what the vehicle needs and when to expect it in the bay. There’s less pressure on them and less pressure on the customer. It’s a major reason why we perform inspections every time a vehicle enters our facility.