5 Tips to Effectively Use the Service Maintenance Menu
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Most customers don’t have a clue about proper vehicle maintenance.
At best, they know to change their oil every few thousand miles. If you don’t use a service menu to remind these individuals of the basics, not only are you losing sales, but you’re also doing them a disservice.
How to use a service menu to increase sales and customer satisfaction
A maintenance menu is an essential tool on the service drive. The following steps will help you put it to use.
1. Create a service menu (if you don’t already have one)
If drivers read – and followed – the maintenance schedule outlined in their owner’s manual, service menus wouldn’t be so vital. As it is, most customers need a prominently displayed list to remind them that, yes, they do need to replace their air filter. If you don’t already have a maintenance menu hanging in your office, get one, and make sure it includes these items:
1.) Engine oil change (standard, synthetic, etc.)
2.) Manufacturer scheduled service (30K, 60K, 90K, etc.)
3.) Tire Rotation
4.) Tire rotate and balance
5.) Wheel alignment
6.) Tire replacement
7.) Battery replacement
8.) Wiper blades
9.) Brake service
10.) AC performance service
11.) Cabin filter replacement
12.) Air filter replacement
13.) Multi-point inspection (complimentary)
14.) Rotating seasonal services (e.g. anti-freeze concertation check, snow tire installation)
15.) Installation of dealer-approved accessories
These are the basics. The automotive maintenance menu you create may vary, depending on the type of services you offer and the vehicles you work on. Also, it’s important the menu be printed in color to catch the customer’s attention.
2. Present the service menu
Once you’ve got your maintenance menu boldly displayed behind the front counter, it’s time to put it to use. Do an interactive walk-around of the vehicle in the service drive, then input its information into your POS system.
From there, you should be able to access the manufacturer's maintenance schedule (if not you can look it up in a repair database). Lay the schedule out in front of the customer and discuss recommended car care with them. At the same time, you can point to the automotive service menu for corresponding prices.
An alternate method is to print out the maintenance menu and take it with you when you do your vehicle walk-around. If you notice something on the car in need of service (e.g., uneven tire tread or worn wiper blades), you can point to the remedy on the list. That way, the customer has a general idea of how much the job costs. Also, it helps to identify suggested menu items as soon as you can. If you recommend a job after the customer has been in the waiting room for an hour, they may not have the time (or patience) to hang around. If you mention it before the vehicle enters the shop, there’s a better chance they’ll be able to rearrange their schedule to have the work done.
3. Explain the benefits of service menu items
Knowledge is power. Educating your customers gives them the ability to make the right decision for their vehicle. Plus, without in-depth explanation, they are likely to view the maintenance menu as a pushy sales tactic. And there is nothing consumers loath more than an empty marketing pitch.
4. Give the customer a copy of the service menu
It’s a good idea to print out a copy of both the manufacturer's maintenance schedule and the automotive service menu. Give both to the customer. Even if they don’t purchase service today, they’ll leave with a reminder of any recommended car care items.
5. Earn trust through transparency
A service menu puts rates right where the customer can see them. Of course, there are circumstances where these rates may differ. For example, the list might advertise brake jobs (new pads and machined rotors) starting at $200.
The cost will increase if the rotors need to be replaced, or worse yet, the vehicle is equipped with loathsome drum brakes. Explain that the menu prices are estimates, and the actual cost may vary. Honesty and transparency are the fast track to customer satisfaction.
Continually exercise the service menu strategy
The steps listed above aren’t helpful if you only implement them occasionally. To make the most of the service maintenance menu, you must promote it all the time. Get in the habit of mentioning it to every customer that pulls onto the drive.