Auto Service World
News   November 17, 2022   by Adam Malik

The importance of creating a maintenance plan with customers

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Something Maylan Newton would always tell his customers was that it’s his job to make sure their car never showed up at his shop behind a tow truck.

Of course, things happen but, generally speaking, he was only doing his job right if he inspected the vehicle thoroughly and helped the customer maintain their vehicle so a catastrophic failure would be avoided as much as possible.

“I tell them, ‘I’m going to do a thorough inspection. I’m going to tell you what I find on it. And then I’ll help you budget your time and money so you are not inconvenienced with a breakdown,’” said the shop owner-turned-coach during a recent conference.

The typical response from the customer? “That’s what I’m looking for,” said the chief executive officer of Educational Seminars Institute at this fall’s Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario Symposium.

Coach Maylan Newton talks with shop owners during AARO’s 2022 Symposium

“Because when that car, whether it breaks down or it’s scheduled, it’s a problem because you took their freedom away from them,” Newton added during a discussion with shop owners.

Not to mention the fact that a customer with a catastrophic failure throws the shop’s schedule for a loop. That customer moves up the triage list, takes your best technicians off another job and keeps them tied up for hours, if not days, making repairs. Now the shop is backed up.

The cost of a new vehicle is out of reach for many people — more than US$48,000 on average. While used prices have retreated, they’re still 28 per cent higher year over year as of July. Those who can buy a new car, have done so. For those who can’t, they’re looking to their automotive service provider to keep their vehicle running as long as possible.

“I want you to think about your customer base, the people you see on a regular basis: How many of them want to sign up for 72 months of a car payment?” Newton asked.

“So when I presented to them the proper way — here’s what we found; here’s our recommendation. As professionals, here’s our recommendation of when to repair why — and put them on a maintenance program, most of them will spend the money with you. They don’t want a new car payment.”

Not to mention the fact that most people don’t like change – they’re used to their car and don’t want to learn the intricacies of a new one. “How many times that they come to you because they don’t know how to turn the dome light on or off or work the radio because it’s not their regular car?” Newton pointed out.

If a vehicle is coming close to the ‘repair versus replace’ debate, the first question Newton will ask is if they can afford to replace their vehicle. Most will say no and many more nowadays will do the same given rising costs.

“All right, then it’s decision-making time,” he’ll tell the customer. “You have these things wrong with your vehicle. Here’s the priorities. If we can replace the vehicle with either a brand-new vehicle or another used vehicle, and again, make sure you don’t buy a car with more problems. Then let’s talk about how we can best plan and budget your time and money to keep you on the road.”

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