Using Car Care Month to kick off preventative maintenance awareness is an important factor in helping consumers build trust in the aftermarket, according to the AIA.
“If people actually do the preventative maintenance, they’re establishing the element of trust,” says Lise Newton, manager of public relations for the association. She says that rather than having the public’s perception of service colored by always needing major repairs, by encouraging the public to approach maintenance in a preventative way, consumers can have more positive experiences at the independent service garage, “which is really important to the industry. It may only be a small job, but it helps to build the relationship and trust.
“Eventually, no matter how much preventative maintenance you do, something big is going to go. So you’re going to go to the person you trust. It’s not something that’s pleasant, but at least if you’re informed and you have a reliable installer to go to, you have that element of trust.”
She believes that having a garage they can trust continues to be something that consumers rank highly. Accordingly, the association’s “How Do I Find the Right Mechanic?” bulletin, issued last fall, was the most requested of its bulletins through the fall and winter.
This year, with a revamped committee structure to more effectively tackle consumer awareness issues, the AIA has just released a slate of Car Care Bulletins for the spring maintenance season.
“The bulletins cover coolant, tires, environmental issues and other topics,” says Newton. She says, too, that female car owners will continue to be a focus of the car care initiative. “I think that it’s a whole market that needs to be tapped into. Women are becoming more aware of the need for proper maintenance. There are also a lot of single women out there who do not have a partner to rely on for this kind of thing.” Plus they’re the ones paying the bill. “I believe it’s a huge untapped market.
“It’s important for them to feel in control and to establish a relationship with their local installer. As with many of my friends, especially those who have older cars, it’s becoming more of an interest in how things work and where to go for good service.”
It is, of course, not enough to just produce the bulletins. “Companies need to get them out to the consumers. We hope that people will put them out to community newspapers and that people will not only read them, but act on them.”
Proven tactics include newsletters to consumers, distribution to community newspapers–editorial department first, advertising second–as well as having them available for consumers to pick up at counter displays.
In the U.S. Car Care Council’s survey of women motorists, women were shown to get most of their maintenance information from newspapers, magazines, or other printed media, versus only a marginal amount (5%) from family, friends, or technicians. In addition, the survey also found that while location and cost were important factors in determining where they had work done, the combination of recommendation and familiarity with shop personnel outstripped all other factors.
Since building that familiarity requires regular if not frequent visits to the garage, it stands to reason that using tools like car care bulletins to prompt service occasions makes good sense for everyone in the aftermarket.
Last Fall’s Bulletins are still available at the AIA’s website and most are applicable even in summer. Here is a selection.
Is Your Battery Tough Enough?
Belts and Hoses: “If it ain’t broke, fix it!”
Greening the Car.
Green driving tips from Car Care Canada.
How Do I Find the Right Mechanic?
How do you find a mechanic/automotive service technician you can trust?