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Free Dealer Service Back Fires

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I have been keeping a close eye on our customers who have purchased new vehicles in the past few years with “free Service” plans. For the most part, the dealer is changing the oil, by the factory schedule, which is anywhere from 5,000 miles to 15,000 miles, depending on the car make. But, what I have found is that nothing else is being done that the car owners pays out of pocket. For example, tire rotations, cabin filters, air filter and wipers. It appears that if it’s not included, the dealer has a tough time selling it.


The long term effects of this free service will be interesting to see how it all plays out. We might be left with a whole bunch of cars poorly maintained.


Just a few weeks ago, a customer called me about her Subaru needing brakes. She was at the dealer getting her free oil change and the dealer said the car needed brakes, all four wheels. She called me to not only verify but to do the work if needed. The moral of this story: After 42,000 miles of free oil changes, the dealer could build a relationship strong enough to sell her brakes.


We ended up doing the brakes, and also did a tire rotation, replaced the wipers because they were torn and she also needed a New York State annual inspection.


I should call the dealer and thank them for doing the oil change for free and leaving me the gravy....what do you think?

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I have thought about calling my local Mercedes dealership and thank them for treating customers so poorly... same for all of the other brands I work on. But if I did that they may catch on to their problems... so I vote no, system seems to be working just great.


As far as the maintenance programs offered with the new vehicles it may be good for us when these vehicles start malfunctioning and we see them, we know off the bat that these items need to be checked closely and use it as a tool to reinforce proper maintenance.


Young drivers, 30 and younger have grown up in the buy and throw away mentality, fortunatly for us we know they will either have to fix or buy new at some point, and as they age and find out money is precious they will start to see why it's important to maintain what they have. So I see $$$ and opportunity to keep educating and building a strong customer base. Sadly dad no longer seems to be changing the oil with daughter or son in the driveway, it's just take the credit card and drop it off at the dealership, so we should capitalize on the people that dont know how to do it and teach them what else needs to be done so they trust us to do it for them.


I have some customers who service their brand new european cars with me because they don't trust the dealership that sold it to them. This speaks volumes to the opportunities we have at hand and I don't see it getting better.


Hope it stayed on topic!

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