We’ve said it before and it bears repeating: certified maintenance is an essential tool to help increase customer retention. When you retain customers instead of engaging in a constant race to find new ones, you make your auto dealership more valuable.
You may wonder, however, if there’s a way to retain customer beyond certified maintenance. What can your dealership do to keep them coming back even once that maintenance runs out? When that happens, an effective way to continue your relationship with those customers is by selling maintenance contracts through a service drive maintenance program.
What Is a Service Drive Maintenance Program?
Unlike complimentary certified maintenance (which comes with the vehicle and extends for a certain period of time or so many miles), a service drive maintenance program is based on selling maintenance contracts to customers once their free maintenance has run out. These contracts consist of packages that allow customers to obtain routine maintenance at a discounted cost from purchasing them individually at the time they come in for service.
These packages are sold via the service department. This means that your service advisors must engage the customers in order to educate them about and promote the contracts.
How Does Selling Maintenance Contracts Work?
Service maintenance contracts are typically sold in two-packs or three-packs. Let’s say, for example, a customer brings their vehicle into the service department for an oil change. When they come in to pick up their vehicle, the service advisor looks at their record in the computer and sees that the customer has no more complimentary maintenance remaining.
If the price is $44.45 for a single oil change and tire rotation, the service advisor could then offer the customer a three-pack for $99. This would include three tire rotations/oil changes. “You can buy it and redeem the first one today; then you’ll have to more coming to you,” the service advisor would tell the customer.
What Are the Benefits of Selling Maintenance Contracts?
First and foremost, selling maintenance contracts is an excellent way to please your customers and make them feel as though you’re taking care of them. All too often, automotive customers feel as though car dealerships are taking advantage of them — either through trying to sell vehicles at the highest prices or by tacking on unnecessary repairs and items in the service department. One aspect of customer retention is making them feel as though you truly value their business. If they can get three oil changes for about the price of two, they’ll be delighted by this and happy to return.
Another benefit of selling maintenance contracts is that it gives you a longer period of time to continue building a relationship with that customer. Once their complimentary maintenance runs out, you don’t want them heading to Jiffy Lube for their oil changes; you want to keep them coming back through your doors. Your goal is to see them not just for oil changes, but for engine repairs, new brakes, new tires, and hopefully, their next new car. Remember; the ultimate goal is customer retention, and the key to that is to keep them coming back.
Customize Maintenance Contracts to Your Dealership
One of the things dealerships love about selling maintenance contracts is that they can be customized to suit the needs of each store. The dealership talks with the team at Performance Administration Corp. to build out a plan that works for them. It’s important that the dealership be realistic with a discounted rate they’re ok with charging for each service visit. We’ve also found that in order to encourage service advisors to sell these packages, it can be helpful to provide them with a small $5 or $7 spiff per package sold in order to incentivize them to promote the program to customers.
For the most part, customers are very receptive to purchasing maintenance packages from their service advisors (as opposed to purchasing service packages during the F&I process when they purchased their vehicle). They’re happy to do this because they’ve usually build a level of trust with their service advisor. By selling maintenance packages in the service drive, you’ll create even more opportunity to continue building those relationships as you move forward!