Quick Lube: A Minor Investment for a Huge Return

In the past, customers were willing to bring their vehicle into a service department and wait patiently. However, with the rise of convenience and the promise of speed in the form of express independent chains such as Jiffy Lube, regular service customers began forsaking the dealership and started defecting to these chains. Manufacturers took notice and started initiatives encouraging franchise dealers to implement their own quick lube services in order to recapture this lost business. Many dealers acquiesced and started offering these services to their customers.

To start with, these quick lube service processes mimicked those of all other services: Inspection, Service Recommendations and then Repair Order Completion. Yet somewhere along the way, that process changed. Spoiled by an overwhelming amount of highly profitable warranty work, franchised dealers were making so much money that quick lube services somewhat fell to the wayside and customers again defected to the independents for these services.

Well, I can promise you this, if you fail to do a good job with your quick lube, you are missing out. It only takes a minor investment to get one heck of a return in CSI, customer retention and yes, that all-important profitability!

The bottom line is that it is all about the process. Sadly, this is what typically happens: The customer arrives for an oil change. In the interest of speed, the work is completed and the customer receives an inspection report as they check out at the cashier. Well, you can forget the customer agreeing to do any additional work then -- they are ready to leave. That is if the inspection report and recommendations are even gone over with the customer in the first place. Many times a greasy report gets handed to the customer, which is summarily ignored, as they pay for their oil change and go on their merry way – completely unaware that their tires are so worn down they could blow out on the freeway at any time.

The process should be is as follows: As soon as the vehicle pulls in the inspection should be complete and the report out to the advisor before the oil cap is even off the car. The advisor should then grab the customer and go over the report, “your catalytic convertor is making a whining noise and is about to go. In the interest of safety, how about we fix it while you are here? It will only cost $X and take X hours and we can have you out of here by X time.”

Instill this process right from the first customer interaction in service. Inform the customer about your complimentary inspection that ensures all is well with the health of their vehicle. On that first visit, establish the process and go through everything top to bottom – no TSBs were found, no outstanding recalls, the 21-point inspection details, the car is operating just fine. This builds trust right from the beginning and the customer is more likely to believe your recommendations when additional work starts coming up as the vehicle ages.

If done up front like this, and if the process is run correctly, CSI and customer retention soars.

I think many dealers miss the opportunity to make a whole lot more money and take better care of their customers with quick lube -- it truly is a missed opportunity. Let the customer know about that tire special from the OEM –Four tires for the price of three – no one has better prices on tires. You have them in stock and it will only take a few minutes...

The funny thing is, when I bring this up with dealers, they uniformly reply, “we don’t have a problem with our quick lube, we already do it that way.” Yet I can see that this is not the case.

My suggestion: send in a mystery shopper to see how the process really runs. The results may surprise you and open up a gold mine of opportunity.

Slow the process down just a little bit and be sure to go over the inspection report with the customer. Train your quick lube techs to do a thorough inspection, look for all the TSBs and outstanding recalls work -- around 80% of vehicles will have something that needs fixing, so why leave that money on the table? Get that inspection report out to the service advisor FAST so they can review it with the customer at the start of the process, rather than when they are ready to leave.

If needed, incentivize your techs and service advisors with a little bonus to ensure this process is handled well. You will see a huge return on investment in CSI and customer retention, as your customers will no longer defect to the competition for their minor work.

The end game is this – implement (or re-implement) the process of a full vehicle inspection followed by a service advisor presenting recommendations prior to any work being completed in your quick lube department. If that means training your “B” and “C” technicians how to do inspections, how to look up VIN numbers for open recalls, warranty or TSBs and then turning those results over to the service adviser, do it. Your service advisers are your salespeople, not your technicians. Give them the inspection report and let them do their thing. By doing this, you will immediately increase service revenue for one simple reason – you started asking for it.

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