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As I travel around the country and provide help and consulting to dealerships, there are many common denominators. Some of these common denominators are good business practices, and others could be considered an opportunity. One of the more common opportunities or what I would sometimes call “missing the boat” is the practice of recommending an oil change and filter with a tire rotation. Wait…what? Why not?

There is nothing wrong with doing some maintenance on your customers’ vehicles. However, if you are a Subaru dealership, the maintenance guide calls for the 24,000-mile service. Is there not much different right? Your customers are all saying, “I need an ‘oil change and tire rotation.'” We take their order and write it up, then bring the vehicle over to the Express Service Bay for the requested work and a multipoint Inspection. Soon after, your Maintenance Technician performs the oil change and filter, rotates the tires, and completes the multipoint inspection. Awesome! So… what is the issue? If you are a Subaru dealership, there is more maintenance due for this vehicle with 24,000 miles than just an oil and filter with tire rotation. We are missing a cabin filter, not to mention possible worn wiper inserts. In addition, we are giving the customer the perception that this is all their vehicle is due for at this mileage. Here is the point:

  1. We are probably not doing all the factory-required maintenance.
  2. The customer starts to think they can go somewhere else more convenient since all they need is an oil change and tire rotation.
  3. The service department’s percentage of maintenance vs. repair goes down (thus more repair than maintenance).
  4. Last but not least, we continue to miss maintenance items the factory is recommending and/or requiring to keep your customer’s vehicle up to date.

We have a recommendation based on many visits to other top operating dealerships. This recommendation is 60% maintenance and 40% repair. THE BEST WAY to achieve this is to recommend this factory mileage maintenance to every customer that comes in the door and not just the customers who say they want an oil change and filter.

Here is another example: A customer comes in for an oil change and filter. We step up and recommend a tire rotation and MPI. The vehicle has 35,000 miles on it and has not done the 30,000-mile service. You and I know it is likely the Service Advisor will probably not think of recommending the 30,000-mile service. So, we do the basic oil change and filter, tire rotation, and multipoint inspection. If we are lucky enough, the Express Technician says it needs a cabin and air filter… and behold… We sell it! NICE! Done… right? Not really… According to the factory maintenance guide, it is also due for a brake fluid flush AND there might be some other maintenance items the vehicle is due for based on severe driving conditions. Since the vehicle is in the Express Bay, they will probably only complete what is on the repair order plus the filters if necessary. If the maintenance department recommends the 30,000-mile maintenance service, the factory maintenance guide would have called for the cabin filter twice already (at 12,000 & 24,000 miles).

Long story, told in a short way! Your dealership is missing out and is putting the customer’s maintenance history and the customer in an uncomfortable position. Do the right thing! Jump on the wagon and follow the factory recommendations. First, train your staff, then your staff will train your customers. In the end, we want predictable service (maintenance work) coming through our doors, not just the unpredictable service. You want to hear a customer drive into your service department and say, “My vehicle is due for its 54,000-mile service.” Soon enough, it will be just the way we do business. Not to mention, your sales will increase by doing what is right.

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