At a recent local business EXPO, I had the opportunity to meet and speak to a lot of people. One of the questions I asked people is, “Where do you get your car serviced?” This is a question I often ask when doing these events. What surprised me was the increase in consumers going back to the dealer for routine service and repairs.
I followed up the first question with a second question, “Why do go to the new car dealer for service and repairs?”
Here are some of the answers I got:
· It’s a new car
· I have to go to the dealer, it’s under warranty
· My sales person said I had to
· My dealer uses original parts, I don’t want any problems
· It’s a lease car
· My dealer packaged a service plan for my car
· I got a discount book with services
· The dealer extended the warranty if I do all the services there
· My first year of services were free, after that I got used to going back
I have been in business a long time. Years back people bought new cars and maybe went back for a few oil changes, but that was it. Things have changed, and dealers are very aggressive with their marketing tactics. From what I am seeing, the dealers are winning back customers.
The fact is dealers want our customers. Between the shrinking margins on new car sales and the fierce competition, the new car dealer needs the income from service and parts.
We need to take this seriously. We, the independent aftermarket repair shops, are still the first choice with the motoring public, but for how long? Smart dealers are doing a great job at winning customers back after the sale is made. Dealers are also booking the vehicle’s first service and selling service packages. Many dealers are positioning themselves as “price competitive” too.
Thirty years ago dealers charged what they wanted in the service bays, and sold cars in spite of themselves. And we had an endless stream of broken cars lined up in front of our bays. All was good. It’s not that way anymore. Cars are built better, have less routine service items to replace, last longer and don’t breakdown the way cars did years ago. Add to the fact that every sector of the repair industry is a Total Car Care Center.
We can remain number one, and we should. But we cannot ignore the new battle field. The competitors you need to pay close attention to are the new car dealers in your market area.