Most dealerships offer some variation of a car maintenance plan to their customers with the purchase of a vehicle. Do you?
Car maintenance plans are different from extended service plans. ESP’s don’t usually include oil changes, tire rotations or coverage on wear and tear items. The purpose of an ESP is to help with the cost of unexpected repairs. Car maintenance plans will sometimes cover those services, but they primarily focus on regular vehicle maintenance.
Some of the things that a CMP might include are brake replacement, recharging air conditioner freon, or installing new wiper blades. Plans vary, so sometimes coverage is limited, and sometimes you get all the bells and whistles. The big question to ask yourself is if you should charge for a CMP or include it in the purchase price of the vehicle?
Car maintenance plan ideas that customers and your bank account will both love
The free oil change that won’t drain your account
The most popular car maintenance plan of the last five or ten years has got to be free oil changes for the life of the vehicle. While that is great for your clients, it’s not necessarily the best promotion you could try. Many customers will come in for their free oil change and leave without spending a single penny. Each time they come back for their next freebie, you’re losing money. Some customers may not even take advantage. They are so used to this offer that it’s not wooing them like it once did.
That’s not to say that you should avoid free oil changes for good. Some dealers find success in offering limited free oil change plans for a shorter amount of time than the lifespan of the vehicle. Set a limit. You can provide the first three free or give them free for a year. Whatever you do, don’t lock yourself into an agreement that spans the lifetime of the vehicle. It’s just not profitable.
Say yes to pre-paid car maintenance plans
If you run a dealership that focuses on affordability, customers aren’t expecting as many freebies as they would get at a luxury franchise dealer. They still want a bargain, but usually, have realistic expectations of what you can offer.
One of the best car maintenance plans you could present to your clients is a pre-paid maintenance contract. When customers pre-pay for their services, they’re a lot more likely to take advantage of its offerings. The client is happy because they get a discount on maintenance, and you can be satisfied knowing you aren’t losing your hat to sustain customer retention.
Dare to be different
Just because your peers and competitors are all offering similar promotions, doesn’t mean that you have to. Get creative and offer something different. Just make sure that whatever it is you’re doing is cost effective and will help maintain or increase customer retention.
Try the wash and go approach
Try a free wash and vac promotion. Keep this promo limited. It may be cheaper than an oil change promotion, but it still costs something. You could give customers a punch card to track the car washes they use.
Loaner vehicles or pickups and delivery to service customers
Make it easy for clients to come in for service during the week without any interruption to their jobs or appointments. Pick up their car at work and return it to them so they can go home at the end of the day without missing a beat. When you look out for them, they are a lot more likely to come back in the future.
Considered a seasonal maintenance plan
Are you located in a region that has miserable winters or stifling summers? Develop a plan that covers the change of wipers or filling of fluids. Include a one-time seasonal safety check to make sure their car is ready to handle the climate.
There’s more to car maintenance plans than thoughtlessly giving away all your hard earned profits. It’s essential to plan your promotions carefully. Use your CRM to target the right clients for your program. Get creative and pay attention to the cost-effectiveness of any new program you offer. Monitor how the program is working and if there is an increase or decrease in traffic. With a little care, you can increase customer retention and your profits.
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