I wonder how many of you pondered the challenge of promoting and selling ‘Preventive Maintenance’ to your customers. It’s quite amazing when you think about it, the way your customers can really dig their heels in. They just stubbornly resist your every good intention to part them from their money…
Oops! Did I say that out loud?
I meant to say, your every good intention to protect their vehicle and help them avoid that nasty of nastiest… like the 3 AM rain-soaked, dark and lonely, solo roadside picnic while awaiting the tow truck driver.
Because that’s the reality of it. Preventive Maintenance is all about avoiding the inconvenience of waiting around. Of being stranded somewhere when you’re on your way to somewhere else. Of losing time. Of missing something important. Of… heavens forbid… being late!
And that’s the problem, they (the general public) don’t quite ‘get it’ – well, to be fair, some do. But on the whole, the majority simply think you’re out to part them from their hard earned money.
They don’t seem to understand regularly inspecting a vehicle helps identify problems before they become serious, and to be fair, most of them don’t really understand the true cost of vehicle ownership.
For example, most people are either paying a loan or a lease payment, and of course they’re paying insurance and gas. So the thought of paying an additional ‘unnecessary’ preventive maintenance expense is somewhat irritating to them. They take the position ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!’
I bet if you were to ask a dozen of your customers how much they should budget annually for vehicle maintenance repair they’d have no solid idea. The more confident ones might guess, but I’m betting they don’t really know what the industry standard amount is.
As you know, a suitable budget is about $100 a month. Usually consumed annually in two, maybe three visits to the shop. That’s an extra $1,200 to $1,500 your customer probably didn’t bargain on – so you can see why some are irritated at the idea.
Now I imagine some of you already have loyal customers who trust you implicitly – that’s fantastic. You may even have a stable customer base so that you seldom lose a customer, again that’s great.
However, remember approximately 10% of the local population moves yearly. This is according to the post office, they know because of the change of address requests. So this means most of you face the real possibility that 1 in 10 of your customers will leave every year or so.
So new customers have to be acquired and then retrained to trust you all over again. They might have had bad experiences with ‘lesser’ shops and on the whole you’ll need to carefully show them that you and your business are a solid, reputable and trustworthy place to take their vehicle.
You’ll have to gauge the right time to promote the concept of preventive maintenance too. You’ll need to educate and inform them about the true cost of vehicle ownership – if you’re brave enough you can take this article, make copies, and mail it to all your new customers. (You have my permission to reprint this article)
Include your business card and a hand written note. The hand writing part is important because it shows you care enough about your customer to personally take the time. Tell them you thought they’d appreciate the enclosed article because it’s an unbiased 3rd party opinion on this subject. And ask them to call you if they have any questions.
If nothing else, you would have established a unique relationship with this new client because you would have let them see ‘behind the curtain’ and this earns trust. They’ll read about the real costs and see the challenges you face and the reasons you try so hard to help them.