There seems to be a lot of confusion in our industry about when to sell preventative maintenance. I mean let's face it, the factories just don't recommend much anymore because a low maintenance vehicle is very attractive to buyers. While this is great for marketing and selling cars, it is creating a lot of confusion in Service Departments across the country.
If you ask 10 stores to show you their preventative maintenance menus they would each have a different version or, worse yet, none at all. When stores have not set guidelines of when services are to be recommended it creates a very dangerous situation. Your advisors and technicians are deciding what should be sold and when; so every time one of your client's work with a new advisor they are getting a different message. This type of inconsistency is exactly what drives clients away and gives our industry a bad reputation. They will leave either feeling ripped off or as if the last advisor didn't do a good job informing them about all the preventative maintenance items that would benefit their vehicle. I can't tell you how many times I have stood on a drive coaching advisors to give full presentations and I hear a client respond with, "Why didn't anyone ever tell me about these services before?"
Some dealers have menus that are very aggressive while others feel a moral obligation to only sell what the factory recommends. I think we are making it much harder than it needs to be and the right answer lies somewhere in the middle. Yes, we absolutely want to recommend all the services in our client's owner's manual, but if you look closely even the manuals have at least two different schedules. One for normal driving conditions and one for severe driving conditions. This raises the question "What are normal conditions?" Research shows the following:
Now I have to ask WHO qualifies for the minimum amount of required maintenance? Are we really fulfilling our obligation to advise our clients on how to take care of one of their largest investments by sticking to these plans?
There is also the question of tire care, which is usually completely ignored in our manuals. Every single tire manufacturer recommends that a rotate, balance and alignment be sold annually or every 12-15 thousand miles as preventative maintenance. This often gets overlooked. I always recommend that dealerships run specials to help their advisors become more successful at selling multiple services. A tire saver package is usually a big hit, and once they start they will never stop.
Now the point of this article is not for me to tell you what to sell. The bottom line is you MUST set a standard and require that all follow it. It may even vary from model to model. If an advisor or technician questions the need for any service, have a meeting to discuss the necessity with all of your facts and benefits ready to present. Make sure everyone is clear that following your guideline is not an option but part of their job requirement. I mean after all, do you think that McDonald's lets each of their employees decide if their customers really need to add fries to their order? Just food for thought!