Selling Dealer Services
Great leaders of industry have the ability to think multiple steps into the future. As captains of the dealership service industry, it is imperative that we not only stay ahead of the competition, but also stay mindful of our customer's long-term wants and needs. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, there are two certainties: the customer is always right, and they expect new services and accommodations on a regular basis. Dealerships must provide assistance to the consumer that instills peace of mind, provides reliability for their vehicle, and offers profitability for the dealership.
Today’s vehicles don’t require new points, cap, and rotor every 30,000 miles, but they still need oil changes, transmission fluid changes, and differential servicing. During a typical scheduled dealership service, a service writer might offer an oil change and tire rotation, as well as a plethora of other professional preventative maintenance services. In an effort to streamline and increase job profitability, fluid exchange equipment has made a thunderous entry into service bays across the country.
Fluids, oils, and lubricants are considered replaceable wear items, and have a specific lifespan. Conversely, alternators, starters and A/C compressors have a varied lifespan and, more often that not, are replaced or serviced only when a problem arises. As such, part of vehicle preventative maintenance must include servicing the following: emission system, fuel injection system, engine oil, diesel service, automatic transmission service, cooling system, brakes (not simply the pads and rotors, but the entire system), power steering system, and differential/transfer cases. While most of these systems can be drained and refilled using gravity and a drain pan, it is a time consuming process that has lean profit margins. Most force-fed exchange systems are designed to be application specific, and usually include all the necessary components for flushing/reverse flushing, refilling and disposing of old fluid. This is not merely an oil change or a transmission service, rather a day spa for each specific system of the vehicle,and must be sold accordingly.
While there are several manufacturers designing equipment to perform this same task, there are a few key features that must be kept in mind while searching for a fluid-exchanging machine.
Coolant servicing systems should utilize a drain and fill cone-adaptor of sorts, a powerful reverse flush mechanism, a large reservoir, the ability to eliminate air pockets, and preferably be self-contained and 12-volt friendly. Automatic transmission fluid exchangers must also possess the ability to flush, drain, and refill, self regulate and offer visual confirmation of fluid exchange. Professional brake system service fluid exchangers are vastly more simple and efficient than traditional auto-bleeders. Some manufacturers even offer auto-bleeding, manual pressure adjust for vehicle versatility and leak test for added security. Be sure the system you choose has ample fluid capacities for both waste and fresh fluids.
Some machines require proprietary fluids while others will operate with any fluid. Remember, the quality of the fluid is just as important as the exchanger used to perform the service. For example: high-quality emission service systems can actually clean up a rough idle, improve economy, dissolve fuel fungus and reduce exhaust odor. Don’t be afraid to educate your customers on the benefits of a system flush in addition to a fluid change. Remind consumers that these are professional services and not simple additives that can be purchased at any auto parts store.
It terms of profitability, many dealerships have found a return on their investment in as soon as six-months! While this is greatly affected by how aggressively the services are marketed to the customer, it is also determined by whether the dealership chooses to buy, or lease the equipment. Approximately 85 percent of fluid exchange system users choose to lease the equipment.
In addition to what we have dubbed as ‘professional services,’ dealerships also have the ability to offer their customers Pour-in additives. These are fluids, oils, and conditioners that can be added to a mechanical system by the customer, and do not require any special equipment, machinery, or fluid exchanging. Emission system cleaners, diesel engine services and oil system services can all be categorized as “do-it-yourself” services, but can still be provided by the dealer. According to the service manager at Sunrise Ford, “Customers have embraced both our pour-in additive protection plans and our professional service fluid exchanges as a value added bonus. The customer feels that they are receiving attention far and beyond the call of duty, and the dealership is glad to provide it. Not only has our profitability increased on standard services, but our customer retention is higher than ever!”
Remember, reliability and long-term savings motivate consumers. Every time a vehicle is in for service, oil change, or tire rotation, remind the owner that regular system flushing and fluid servicing will keep their car running like new!
Ed Justice Jr. is the president and CEO of Justice Brothers. For more information, visit www.justicebrothers.com.