Business-Building Strategies That Work Part 2 – The Lifetime Oil Change Program

Last time, we talked about ways an auto repair shop like yours can step up its processes and efforts to acquire additional market share, improve efficiencies, increase sales, and attain better profitability. This week, we want to focus on one method in particular of keeping your customers returning to you time after time — the Lifetime Oil Change program.

A Lifetime Oil Change program helps to lock in your customers long-term for their oil changes, and create a guaranteed repeat-visit situation. It will also increase the frequency of customer visits to approximately four times a year, and improve your shop’s immediate cash flow, since this is offered as a prepaid program.

A Lifetime Oil Change program comprises a number of elements:

  • Service Advisor benefits. Traffic will increase, creating additional opportunities for service advisors to up-sell repairs and maintenance, which in turn will help them achieve established bonus levels quicker and more often.
  • Technician benefits. The increased car count will mean more opportunities to sell additional labor, leading to achieving establish bonus levels more quickly and more frequently.
  • Incentives. There should be a case incentive offered to any employee who sells a customer the Lifetime Oil Change program. Case awards can vary, depending on a variety of factors, but should be immediately dispersed.
  • Pricing structure. The pricing structure requires careful consideration. The program price should be low enough for customers to perceive the value by returning for all oil changes, and to allow significant sales penetration of existing customers in your database. An attractive price can deliver a high percentage of new customers, as well. Experience suggests customers will realize a total return on their investment after only four or five visits.
  • Initial offering to existing customers. Your database of existing customers should be purged of duplication to ensure that you reach the maximum number of customers for the least cost. Then mail a flyer and/or send an email stating your offer. Consider including a discount for a short period of time — say, 30-45 days. Then follow up your mailing with phone calls to customers, asking if they received your offer. This will give you the opportunity to sell the program again.
  • Counter tents. These should be displayed on your counter and in the waiting area, with the suggestion that customers “Ask about our Lifetime Oil Change program.” These items should be colorful and professionally made. Holders for these flyers can be found in office supply stores.
  • Employee Buttons. Require your employees to wear buttons suggesting that customers ask about your Lifetime Oil Change Program.
  • The Lifetime Oil Change certificate. When customers purchase the program, immediately give them a certificate stating the program’s terms and conditions. Be sure to enter the information regarding the program for this customer in your database.
  • The Welcome Letter. Within five days of their purchase, send customers a welcome letter thanking them for enrolling in the program. The letter should also offer an incentive for the customer to refer others to the program. Include a “Preferred Customer” wallet card with the letter. This card should be colorful and laminated, and should show the company name, address, and phone numbers on the front, and the customer and vehicle information on the back.
  • Follow-up. Establish a formal follow-up program to ensure that customers are satisfied with the program and to encourage them to refer others. This can include phone calls, emails, or mailings. Try to obtain testimonials, if possible.
  • Referral program. Develop a formal referral program that offers incentives to customers referring others to the program. Incentives can include discounted parts, accessories, or services; cash awards; dinners at local restaurants; Starbucks cards; etc.
  • Brochures. Develop a formal brochure that outlines the program’s benefits. (Omit the price, since you may want to modify it later.) Reach out to any customers who have already been using the program, if possible, and get testimonials from them as to why they initially purchased the program, the quality of service they have received, and their perception of how the program is working, and use these testimonials in the brochures or other advertising
  • Employee training. Below, we have a list of some questions commonly asked by customers, with suggested answers. Review these questions and answers with all members of your staff who will be dealing with customers.

The Lifetime Oil Change Program: Common Customer Questions, and How to Answer Them

Q. Why are you making this offer?
A.We’re concerned about our customers. This program enables us to maintain a reminder system for those customers who will come here for all their oil changes. In addition, it’s important to us and to you, to have certified and competent technicians perform these maintenance services so they can spot potential problems.

Q. Why aren’t other repair shops making a similar offer?
A.They may not be as interested in investing in their customers as we are.

Q. What’s the catch?
A.There’s no catch. The offer is legitimate and a bargain.

Q. What happens if I wreck a vehicle that’s on the program?
A.You may, for a minimum cost of $______, transfer the program to your replacement vehicle.

Q. What happens if I purchase a used vehicle to replace the one I have on the program?
A.You may, for a minimum cost of $______, transfer the program to your replacement vehicle.

Q. Can I have more than one car or truck on the program?
A.Yes, you simply pay the program price for each vehicle you wish to enroll.

Q. I own commercial vehicles. Can they be on the program?
A.The program is designed for passenger vehicles that travel approximately 12,000 miles per year, and most commercial vehicles travel many times that amount. However, we can design a program tailored to your individual fleet needs.

Q. I have a diesel vehicle. Can it be on the program?
A.Most diesel engines require far more than five quarts of oil, and often there are several filters involved. Most diesel filters are far more expensive than those of gasoline-powered engines. However, we can design a program tailored to your individual needs.

If your Lifetime Oil Change program is implemented according to the suggestions described here, you should achieve the desired results. With the mileage and oil service intervals increasing (newer vehicles have longer service intervals), this is a great time to lock your customers in. Many shop owners who’ve implemented this program have indicated that these customers spend more money annually than those not in the program.

Other Similar Program Options

Another way to increase the frequency of visits from existing customers is with an Expiring Warranty program. Many shops track exactly when manufacturer’s warranties will expire. Some even track extended service contracts as well. Both of these programs work well, but are utilized by only a small portion of the industry.

Some progressive repair shops now also track when warranties are due to expire on the work they did, and request that customers bring their vehicles in to be checked out prior to the expiration date as a way to build frequency and customer recovery. Just think how customers might feel when you call or send a reminder advising them of their warranty expiration. It’s a big boost to your customer service image.

We hope these program ideas help you in increasing traffic in your shop. Looking for other marketing ideas? Join us for Guerrilla Shop Management beginning February 18th, and learn many other highly effective marketing techniques and much more! For more information click here, or call us at 800-755-0988 to enroll.

Written by RLO Training