Auto Service World
Feature   February 1, 2000   by Erik Martensson

A Strong Argument

Why additives make for a win-win result between shop owners and their customers. for chemicals and additives

Auto service professionals have a tool that can put money into their pockets and keep their customers on the road.

The benefit to both parties is a strong argument for the use of engine chemicals and additives.

Most shop owners would agree that in general car owners neglect their vehicles and don’t maintain them properly.

Chemical additives are one way to combat engine deterioration and keep the vehicle in proper working order.

Jack Johnson, owner of Jackson Auto says, “if vehicles were maintained properly 100 per cent of the time we wouldn’t need to use them (chemical additives) quite often”.

Strong proponents of chemical additives swear by their use since they have seen their value.

Dennis Gluck, owner of Yorkwoods Motors, has done his own impromptu testing of additives.

“When the emissions tests first came out we tested about a hundred of our customer’s cars and had less than a two per cent failure rate.

“Most of my customers get a three-way additive package – a fuel-injection cleaner, an oil booster and a rust inhibitor or water-pump lubricant on a regular basis, either with an oil change or absolutely every time they have a tune-up done.

“Based on the results we’ve seen of our own customers with a 98 per cent pass rate we feel that the service we offer to the customer via the chemical situation has been very beneficial to them.

“The walk-in trade that I see coming through my doors for emissions testing where I have no history of work being done to their vehicles the failure rate is down around 28 to 30 per cent.”

Gluck recommends that his customers who commute daily on the highway need an additive since at high speeds oil is going to break down more rapidly.

He also recommends a fuel injection cleaner with every oil change since “for the sake of six dollars it is very beneficial in the running of the car in the cleanliness of the engine”.

Tim Adams, owner of Adams Service, says chemicals do that ‘extra little bit’ for his customers, who drive hundreds of thousands of trouble-free kilometres as a result.

Adams makes them part of his customer’s regular service and believes that with consistent use they help keep the vehicle in original order.

“I have a number of customers who have been using them since day one in their cars and 2-3-4 hundred thousand kilometers later there are no engine problems.”

Adams believes that the chemicals do that “extra little bit” and something as simple as an oil treatment can protect the engine walls, help prevent dry starts and prolongs the life of the engine on older cars.

However, he is careful to state that he uses the additives as preventative maintenance, not as a cheap tune-up to get the vehicle by.

Adams is an ardent additive supporter and believer since he has used many of the products on his own vehicle. “I use a heavy-duty fuel injection cleaner at least once every two months because I put a lot of mileage on my truck.

“When I pull out the plugs every 50,000 kilometers they still look like brand new. I haven’t had any ill effects. When I use these chemicals I seem to get better performance also.”

His personal faith in the products also makes the additives an easy sell to his customers.

“Usually when I stand behind something and they (customers) know I’ve done all my own tests and that I’m a firm believer they put their trust in me.”

Gluck agrees that since he has built up trust with his customers there is little skepticism about the additives.

When he first started with the chemical additive business he offered a money-back guarantee to introduce customers to the products.

Now there are “no questions asked and the customer doesn’t get anything that they don’t need”.

“Not very often do we have the customers questioning the product,” says Jack Johnson of Jackson Auto.

He believes part of the reason the trust is there is due to the fact that he has the chemicals and additives on display.

“They’re well-known names so the customer knows what they’re getting. They recognize the name and see the product we’re putting in so I think it helps a lot.”

If the customer is new, Gluck recommends the additives but feels he doesn’t have to actively push it.

“They look at the counter that is comprised of probably 75 per cent additives in one shape or form and there’s my selling tool.

People look at it and then ask their own questions. Then we go on to explain the benefits and attributes of the various additives.”

Additives are almost always an effortless sale for his shop, says Johnson. He recommends them regularly and builds them right into his regular service.

“I find it to be an easy sell and any product that we can sell certainly helps out,” said Johnson.

Adams also recommends them regularly and makes them part of the package when he does transmission service. When the customer is in for a basic oil change, Adams gives the customer the option of an engine conditioner or oil treatment.

He says that for $4 or $5 most customers don’t say no. “It helps my bottom line, too, which is nice because it’s an easy sell at $5.

Gluck agrees that it’s a moneymaker but advises that in order to make money shop owners have to buy in bulk.

“The guys that buy one case at a time won’t have a hope in hell of competing. I usually buy them by the skid-load or the half skid-load which enables me to wheel and deal with price with the suppliers and in turn make a substantial amount of money.”

Another piece of advice from Adams is to make sure that you have tested the products yourself and have asked the manufacturer all the necessary questions.

“Once you believe in it, most of your customers believe in you, that’s why they’re coming to you to fix their car, and you can tell them that it will help your vehicle, extend the life of your vehicle.”

With environmental programs like Drive Clean bringing more customers through the door, additives provide an opportunity for the shop owner to add to the bottom line.

At the same time the customer benefits with a cleaner, better running vehicle. It certainly sounds like additives are a win-win situation for both parties. SSGM

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