When you’re operating a service and parts department day in and day out, year after year, it can be difficult to see things about your business from an outside perspective. You service vehicles and supply parts. It’s that simple. There are no limits on the type of service your dealership offers, and for whom.
Or are there?
When a customer buys a car from your store, do you assume they know that they can and probably should bring their vehicle in for routine maintenance? Is that a given?
And what if they don’t know? How can you assure they do, when you had nothing to do with the sale of the vehicle?
In a recent conversation I had with a Chicagoland vehicle owner as part of an upcoming podcast episode, a very telling revelation occurred. The vehicle owner had no idea that she could bring her vehicle into the dealership for routine work.
“I didn’t know that dealerships actually did routine work,” she said. “I thought you would only bring in your car for a recall or to get parts changed, or to buy or sell your car. I had no idea that they also do routine work.”
As you’ll discover in the podcast, the vehicle owner had purchased her 2010 Dodge Caliber used from a local Dodge dealership. For nearly three years she had been taking the vehicle to a nearby Jiffy Lube for oil changes and routine maintenance.
At one point while driving the vehicle on the freeway she began hearing strange noises. “It sounded like guitar strings breaking,” she explained. And so she brought the vehicle back to Jiffy Lube.
When the service technician looked, what he found was that near the front suspension there were parts that had been severely rusted out. The rust out was so bad that the technician pleaded with her not to drive the car, and instead have the vehicle towed to the dealership where she had purchased the car.
As it turns out, her vehicle was under recall at the time. From our research, it looks like the door lock rod was at risk of becoming unlatched when the window is down, thus increasing the risk of crash. The dealership was able to fix the problem under the warranty coverage and the woman was back in her vehicle after about three days.
While reclaiming her vehicle, the dealer explained to her that she can bring the vehicle in for routine maintenance. And had she been doing that they would likely have been able to identify the recall order sooner and addressed the issue.
“Never assume that your customers know your fixed ops business,” explains Thomas Hall from QB Business Solutions who works with dealers on their warranty reimbursement process. “This is a classic scenario of how we can operate within our own bubbles, all the while missing opportunities [like this one] to be of value for consumers and help people when they don’t even know they might be at risk.”