Don’t think you need to do oil changes? Think again.

PTEN's newest column seeks to help you keep the front office running smooth.

By pre-paying for the oil changes, the customer will not consider going to the quick lube, and the price is unbeatable. We also started a reminder system that would send customers postcards to update them of oil changes and other needed services (expanded to include emails now).

How we win

By purchasing the coupons, the customer commits to return four times for an oil change, increasing the opportunity to sell additional work and helping to strengthen customer loyalty. The more visits the better for the customer relationship, making it easier to sell higher profit maintenance and repair work. What may seem like a loss on the oil change is greatly made up in additional sales.

There are a few things to consider to make this program work. Have a system where customers can get the oil changes done conveniently, whether it be by appointment or scheduled while-you-wait times on certain days. (Don’t make it hard for the customer or the program won’t work.)

Also, you need to promote the program everyday. Create flyers to go with invoices and posters at the counter. Have a meeting with your people and discuss the program with them. Talk about it with each customer in the shop and on the phone. If you have an “on-hold” message, include your program in the message and after-hour’s answering machine. If you have a key drop, put a flyer there too.

For those who still want to sell that complete full-service oil change at a price that justifies the quality of service, I recommend this: Don’t call it an oil change! Four times a year we send out seasonal promotions for a seasonal “Maintenance Package.” Included is an oil change service, tire rotation, underhood inspection, undercarriage inspection, etc., for $59.95 (most cars). There it is, your oil change service packaged into a maintenance promotion with an opportunity to upsell.

There are a lot of players in today’s automotive maintenance service market, from quick lubes to new car dealerships to national chains. All of them want a piece of the maintenance pie. You need to be innovative. You can no longer wait for the repair work to flow into your bays. You need to go after the more profitable service work. Build an oil change business and you can build a business for the future.

Joe Marconi is an ASE master technician, PTEN tool review panelist and owner of Osceola Garage in Baldwin Place, N.Y.

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