It’s up to you to sell your customers on keeping and servicing their vehicles, rather than buying new.
The current “perfect storm” created by the pandemic and the subsequent economic downturn, has resulted in an opportunity for the aftermarket that truly comes only once in a lifetime, or even a generation. The question you have to ask yourself is whether you’ll be able to capitalize on it, or whether this will be an opportunity missed.
Let me paint a clearer picture for you. With new car sales in a slump, and with the current uncertainty about job security and household finances, a growing number of vehicle owners are seriously considering pushing their existing wheels through just one more season, rather than trading in their vehicles and buying something new. There’s an opportunity for the aftermarket to cash in on this trend.
The next six months
Encourage your customers to put their vehicles through an audit or appraisal at your shop in order to determine if stretching the lifespan of their current ride is possible or advisable.
You’ll want to get their vehicles up on a hoist, and then estimate the service requirements each vehicle may need in order to get it though the next six months. That’s all we want—six months driving at a time.
Does it need brakes? How’s the exhaust? The engine? The transmission? Encourage them to approach their driving requirements the same way they would a blind date. This is not about a long-term commitment… at least not until they get to know their vehicle a little better.
Most shops have a checklist they go through, plus they have access to defects that have become apparent in similar vehicles. The better facilities can check for recalls and TSB’s (Technical Service Bulletins).
Do the math
If the estimate comes in at a reasonable figure, you can encourage them to go for it. The average age of the car on the road is about eight years. The average cost to lease or purchase new is about $3,000 in payments annually, plus depreciation.
According to the experts, servicing and maintaining older vehicles is a growing trend. “People are spending more and more on older cars,” according to the experts. “The quality of the used cars is so much better than it was 10 years ago.”
The conclusion? Encourage your customers to get out their owner’s manual and read the section about maintenance. Remember, vehicles running in Canada operate under the “severe service schedule.” Following that schedule will allow them to stretch the lifespan of their vehicle just a little further—perhaps enough to see their way through this pandemic and the economic downturn. The solution to some of their financial issues are right in their own back yard.
Now that you know the facts you’ll have to market this information to your clients and fill those service bays. Remember: nothing moves without a sales pitch!!
Dave Redinger is a retired mechanic with over 45 years of experience. He now works as a consultant and legal advisor on mechanical matters. You can reach him at davescornergarage.com.