Implement a Successful Vehicle Maintenance Program

All our lives, we have been told, "It's not what you say, but how you say it that is most important." That statement may be true in most situations, but when it comes to vehicle maintenance programs, what you say and the way you say it are important.

All our lives, we have been told, “It’s not what you say, but how you say it that is most important.“ That statement may be true in most situations, but when it comes to vehicle maintenance programs, what you say and the way you say it are important.

Vehicle maintenance programs have become  a profitable component of a dealership’s F&I product mix and a core element of successful customer retention and satisfaction. A vehicle maintenance program that is implemented and executed properly can have a positive impact on store culture, store CSI scores and store profits.

Many dealerships refer to their maintenance programs as “pre-paid maintenance,” but have you met very many people who were excited to pre-pay for a service? While pre-paying for the maintenance plan affords the customer a number of very valuable benefits, the way the program is described and its name are key to high penetration in this product.

Two common names used for this program are “priority maintenance” and “V.I.P. maintenance.” These names convey some of the common benefits offered. Everyone wants to feel like they are a priority and the most important customer.  When selling the program, many F&I managers say the convenience element is just as important as the potential savings to some customers.

Some of the most successful vehicle maintenance programs are referred to by names that do not focus on the maintenance aspect but convey a special relationship between the dealership and the customer. Names like “Pit Pass Program” and “Rider Loyalty Program” allow the dealership to focus on the customers’ participation with the dealership and the fun that comes with ownership and membership.

While a properly executed sales and F&I process can build the value of a vehicle maintenance program and result in some sales of the program no matter the name, many dealerships have seen greater success when they use a name that promotes excitement for the special relationship that is created when a customer purchases the program. The words you choose to use do matter.

The hard part of this exercise is ensuring the staff is excited about the program and transferring that excitement to the customers. The staff needs to be educated on the specifics of the program and what is in it for everybody — the customer, the store and themselves. This explanation is critical to the overall successful launch of the program. The staff has to understand and be able to speak intelligently and enthusiastically about the program.  

This educational effort includes the entire staff. Everyone is responsible for and can benefit from this program becoming a successful part of the dealership culture. Often, vehicle maintenance programs are just another product on the F&I menu rather than an integral part of a dealership’s value proposition. The more comfortable everyone on the staff is with the benefits and rewards of the vehicle maintenance program, the more comfortable the staff will be promoting the program during all of their interactions with customers.

To maximize a vehicle maintenance program, the staff should constantly promote the program. It’s not a pitch that just happens at the F&I desk. During the initial introduction to the dealership during the sale, there are multiple opportunities for each department to plant a seed for the program. When checking in at service, the customer should always be asked about their status as a vehicle maintenance program customer. In some of the most successful vehicle maintenance programs, even the P&A staff make it a point to pitch the benefits of the program (a spiff program can help the sale of this program from the other departments).

For the staff to make the program a priority, it has to be a priority for the owner and general manager. Tracking and rewarding the success of the program should entail more than just reviewing the F&I log.

When it comes to a successful vehicle maintenance program, both the words and the way you use them are important. Have fun with the program and make it a priority.

RPMOne is a leading provider of F&I products and dealer development services dedicated to serving the powersports market. Due to its comprehensive experience with dealerships, lenders and insurance companies, RPMOne has created top-tier F&I programs, web-based tools, training programs, and sales and marketing systems to meet the unique demands of the industry. RPMOne’s mission is to increase client profit to its fullest potential.

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