Selling Preventative Maintenance – Getting to the Next Level

At the core of what we do is our MOC Product line of chemicals and preventive maintenance services.  It was our beginning and continues to be the most challenging aspect of our business.

This is a complicated segment of the automotive industry that has a lot of moving parts. In this day and age, the vendor that takes an order, drops of product, shoots the bull with a few key personnel at the dealership and then moves on to the next store is not acceptable. That type of relationship simply won’t get the job done.

For us to have a successful relationship with a MOC customer, we must be on our game and in touch with every department in the backend of a dealership.  Technicians must be trained to use our machines and perform the services on all makes and models.  Managers must be taught how to structure the services (labor times, pricing etc..) and how to incentivize their employees to sell the products.  Finally, the service advisors must know everything about the products, when they should be recommended and what the value is to the customer.
To be effective, your preventative maintenance vendor and their representatives must constantly work with dealership personnel to improve processes and increase sales.  While there is no silver bullet, we have found that there are several keys to successfully selling preventative maintenance on the service drive.  They are, in no particular order:
  • A service menu with interval packages
  • Pay plan or product incentive for technicians and advisors
  • Targeted product knowledge and walk-around training
  • Management Emphasis
  • Revenue reporting
Most of these are self-explanatory.  A good menu makes it easier for advisors to sell packages, which is much  more effective than selling a-la-cate. When services are sold individually the close rate goes down considerably because the customer instinctively knows they are being up-sold. When all items are presented as a package the customer is much less likely to start declining services.
Training and product knowledge are also important because we know that advisors and technicians won’t recommend or sell services they aren’t familiar with.  This is sales 101. If they either 1) don’t feel comfortable discussing the product or 2) don’t believe in it, it won’t be sold.  While these problems are easily overcome with targeted training, they can be the deadly if not addressed.
The last two components are arguably the most important: 1) compensation and 2) management emphasis.  It is human nature to want to preserve and protect your job / livelihood. In other words, advisors and technicians will focus on what they perceive is important to management.  The clearest indication of management’s direction is what the pay plan rewards.  Is it CSI? Tires and batteries?  Preventative maintenance?  If pay plans reward CSI but not preventative maintenance, guess what advisors will focus on? Pretty simple, CSI.
Time and again we see sales increase drastically when there is a management change at a dealership.  As soon as a new manager changes up pay plans to incentivize preventative maintenance, sales go through the roof.  Given that many of our larger customers are averaging $60,000-$100,000 every month in revenue from preventative maintenance items sold on the drive, it is our opinion that management should always emphasize the importance of selling these services by implementing pay plans that reward them for it.
Make no mistake, lip service from management that “it’s important to sell preventative maintenance on the drive” doesn’t get the job done.  Management must put their money with where the mouth is and reward technicians and advisors for selling preventative maintenance on the drive. If not, sales will disappoint.
Lastly, your vendor must be tracking sales and providing revenue reports to store management on a monthly basis.  If sales aren’t tracked, it’s impossible to know how effective your program is and therefore what needs to be done to improve sales.  A revenue report should include units sold by advisor, effective labor rate, parts and service gross and total labor hours.  If you aren’t getting a revenue report from your current vendor, you should be.  It’s a great management tool.
Expect more from your preventative maintenance vendor.  The days of dropping off product, collecting a PO and moving on to the next store are over.  There are hundreds of thousands of revenue dollars at stake and your vendor should be working tirelessly to help you capture that revenue.