The majority of consumers are oblivious to the servicing requirements of their vehicle, leaving them vulnerable to breakdowns and hefty repair bills, a recent Motoriety study indicates.
As professionals, it is the role of all vehicle technicians to advise and even educate owners about their vehicles, a point that’s setting the independent sector aside from the main dealers and fast-fits, according to data from the GiPA UK annual ATO survey for 2015 which – among other factors – show that independents are favoured for their good advice.
Without wanting to tar vehicle owners with the same brush, there are unsurprisingly some motorists who wouldn’t know what kind of service they require, let alone what is involved and that there is indeed a variation in part specifications.
Mahesh Perera, Director at Vale Auto Tec, Aberdare told GW: “The servicing on one car can be very different to the servicing on another but some drivers just haven’t got a clue.
“There are people that still think a service is just changing the oil and then there are others who think the MOT is a service.”
Educating the customer
For Elaine Carter of Tisbury Motors, Salisbury, it’s all about educating the customer and providing a higher level of customer service.
Mrs Carter said: “We offer a print out of the service schedule with the quote and talk the owner through the service before, and after, we undertake the work, letting them know exactly what we’ve found.”
Ivan Phillips of Ivan Phillips Automotive explained that a healthy customer relationship is often more important than the service itself.
Mr Phillips said: “Most people don’t know about half of the functions on the car but I appreciate that they just want to jump in and get going.
“It’s our role to educate our customers about the service and maintenance of their vehicles.”
“You need to collate the information first, know what car it is, how many miles it has done and what kind of driving they do.
“We then make a recommendation to the customer using Autodata, explaining why we have made those recommendations.”
However, Mr Perera told GW about his concerns on the sale of warranty packages by second hand car dealers which, he says, overrides the manufacturers servicing requirements and misguides consumers.
Mr Perera said: “There’s lots of confusion coming from second hand sales people.
“The manufacturer might state the car needs to be serviced every 15,000 miles but the sales company will claim it needs servicing every 12,000 or even 6,000 miles.
“They encourage the customer to buy a warranty package but the moment they sign it, the customer has to abide by a new set of servicing rules.
“We see this often and explain to the customer that no-one can write the servicing requirements better than the Vehicle Manufacturer (VM). We only follow the recommendations made by the VM, using Autodata.”
To ensure transparency and develop trust, Mr Phillips has recently adopted Microsoft OneDrive, which adds value to his servicing work by offering the capability to reassure customers with a photographic account of the work as it is carried out.
It’s proved hugely successful so far, explains Mr Philips: “I can take a photo of the faulty part and even provide a comparison with the new part so as the customer can understand what was wrong.
“We also offer restoration work here and One Drive is great for keeping customers up to date with a progress report.”
How important is educating motorists about servicing requirements to your business? Do servicing ‘price guides’ have a place in attracting custom or is it a good customer relationship that ensures they return? Share your comments in the section below.