Is Your Express Service Actually Express?

Express Service is a way to build growth in your service departments numbers and profits. This is a big need today as so many of our customers end up going to secondary maintenance facilities for this work. This is draining much of the customer base that once relied on us for taking care of their vehicles. To quote Author and Marketing Expert Seth Godin: He said, “There is no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them.”

The independent franchises of express service businesses that dot the landscape did not spread across the country like they are today just by chance. One such operation was started by an insurance salesman and an independent express shop owner who got together in 1988 and opened a business called ‘Express Oil Change’. In 1995 they opened 11 more shops and at the time this research was put together they had 88 corporate stores and 111 franchise locations in various states and towns across America.

Where are they getting all of these customers? 

They are coming from dealership service departments like ours because we did not keep up with the changes taking place in America. Changes that elevated the pace of daily life and caused our customers to look for faster service and more convenient maintenance services as well as repairs for their vehicles.

What it comes down to is this: If you don’t think there is a market for an express oil change business in your dealership, you might not be really listening to your customers.

In our dealership service departments we need to focus more on what our customers want. What can we do that is in their best interest? What are their objectives? How can we keep the ones we still have, promote new customer growth, and bring our previous customers back to us to have their service needs performed in our shops?

If these problems concern you, you must be willing to ask yourself some hard questions:

  • How fast do you believe customers really want an oil change performed? 
  • How fast is your competition? 
  • What are these independent shops doing that make their offer so appealing to the customers who once depended on you to do this kind of service work for them?

I read an article a few months ago that said the quick service chain “Grease Monkey” had opened 35 new locations across the US in only 18 months. That is an incredible feat and it shows that someone in that company must have their eye on the future.

I have managers tell me all the time: “With the free car wash promotion we now offer our service customers, we just can’t get them through express in less than an hour.”

Have you ever thought about letting your Customers choose whether or not they want to wait for that free car wash?

For example, if you offer a free car wash to your service customers, make sure your advisors give the customer an option of having their car washed for free rather than just assuming they are willing to wait for the extra time needed to do that service.  

A free car wash is a great idea and can make a real difference with some customers. But what if they only have an hour for lunch and they are due back at the office? What if they are a soccer mom running late and have to pick up the kids from school? This may turn your free car wash offer into something they cannot afford to do time wise.

Here is how you present that option to the customer:

“Ms. Customer. Your oil change and tire rotation with our free multipoint inspection will take roughly 30 to 40 minutes. We do offer a basic complimentary car wash that will add up to 20 minutes to the time. Which option would you prefer”?

How are you staffed? Are you really serious about growing your business?

Maybe you are thinking right now: 

“Yeah Becky, but my 78% gross margin will drop to 76% if I add all that unapplied labor.”

I fully understand, and maybe that is true. But you grow your RO count, and a huge benefit is you grow technicians in house. How hard is it to find those?  Managers, how much are you losing in lost opportunity due to a lack of technicians?

Listen, because you would be offering faster service, better amenities and free car washes, you could then stop giving away oil changes for free.

The average American is on a treadmill these days just trying to keep up. The Jiffy Lubes with these speedy service ideas recognized that trend and decided to take advantage of it to grow their business. Because of their awareness and their eagerness to do something about it there are currently on average 124 secondary repair and maintenance facilities within a 10 mile radius of most dealerships. And that number seems to double every five years.

If you already have an Express Service Lane in your dealership that is great! If it is working well for you and you can see that it is increasing your customer base and revenues, and you are getting great feedback from your customers, let me give you a big ‘hurrah’ for the foresight you have for keeping up with the changing times and how they affect your business. 

But if you do not already have an Express Service operation, and you do not take the steps to start one in your dealership, or yours is floundering, you can be sure that as these franchises continue to grow in number in your area, many of the customers they get coming through their shops will be coming from your service department.

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Comment by John Schindel on June 23, 2017 at 4:53pm

Couldn't agree more with what's said in this article.  More and more of the training nowadays is for express lane advisors as they take on a larger number of customers coming on to the drive.  If I had a nickel for every time I mentioned "quarter time" I'd own my own dealership!

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