Maintenance service is really low hanging fruit because it is the simplest way to increase profit from your current customer base.
Focus on the simple services that are easy to perform and the traffic already in your store. You have the transmission services, radiator services, fuel system cleanings, oil system cleaners, and today even more than ever, power steering service — one of the quickest to perform with great profit potential.
The Car Care Council, a group concerned with the benefits of educating consumers about the advantage of regular car care, estimates that $60 billion of needed maintenance services are not performed annually. The average household in America has 1.7 vehicles per household. Surveys performed by the Council found that trust is the single largest factor in the purchase of a maintenance service. Building relationships with your customers really matters with return service. To make sure you are getting your share of this $60 billion maintenance service opportunity, you must build trust with your customers and focus on maintenance services.
Vehicles are lasting longer today because of improved quality and design. The cost of new and used vehicles has increased, while parts and repair cost have escalated greatly in the last decade. There is no miracle that will increase profits in any location, but the question should be — what is already going through your fingertips?
Your greatest opportunity for profit may be with your existing customer base. You are selling them a service they need. You can feel confident when you are selling your customer a preventative maintenance knowing that you are helping them with keeping their investment protected. Make sure your technicians are educated. If they are confident, your customers will feel confident. Your customers need these services.
The Council collected a survey from service centers all across America who inspected customer’s vehicles at no charge. Out of the things inspected, nine out of ten vehicles failed one or more inspection areas. That means 90 percent of the vehicles coming to your stores each day need one or more of the add-on services. The inspection results tell us there is a huge opportunity for increased profits from the existing customer base in quick lube traffic today.
If we take a soft store number of 35 customers per day and ratio that against the Council survey, the profit potential is very impressive. The inspection survey found 25 percent of vehicles needed a power steering service. If a store averages 35 customers per day, 8.7 power steering service opportunities are present each day. Transmission inspections in the survey revealed 22 percent of the vehicles needed a transmission service. On 35 vehicles, 7.7 vehicles per day needed a transmission service. In the survey, 13 percent needed a radiator service done on the vehicle which came out to 4.9 or almost 5 vehicles per day with just a soft store number of 35 customers. To get your share of this opportunity you must communicate and educate because truly, selling is educating.
Fuel system cleaning
Today’s engines must meet the conflicting demands for power and performance while also providing improved fuel economy and meeting reduced emission requirements. In other words, we want our engines to provide power and performance while also reducing fuel consumption and emissions.
Efforts to meet these demands produce engines with precision designs and close tolerances, creating increased vulnerability to dirt and deposit problems. In today’s engines, dirt and deposits can quickly interrupt the precise measuring flow and combustion of fuel and air causing a multitude of problems.
A survey commissioned by Allied Signal Automotive, a company that produces automotive products, found that 80 percent of U.S. motorists start their cars at least three times per day, 63 percent report average daily trips of fewer than twenty miles, with 57 percent driving in stop and go traffic.
According to the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) paper #861533, these driving conditions can quickly cause fuel injector deposits. According to the report, “vehicles causing customer complaints were driving several trips each day driving short distances in city traffic followed by a hot soak with the engine off.”
This type of driving results in today’s engines having frequent hot soak periods, therefore increase intake valve deposits. These intake valve deposits absorb intake fuel and restrict air flow into the combustion chamber, reducing combustion efficiency, power and performance and increasing exhaust emissions. According to Chevron’s SAE paper #872116, “valve deposits cause hard starts, stalls, rough idle, hesitation, stumble and backfire.”
The water problem
Water laden gasoline is a fact of life. Temperature changes produce condensation in storage tanks and vehicle gas tanks. Add the accumulation of moisture during storage, pumping and transport and you understand why water related problems occur.
“Rust and corrosion is another problem, caused by the presence of water in storage tanks, pipelines and manifold systems and in vehicles fuel tanks and systems. In cool or cold weather, ice may form in fuel lines, fuel pumps and intake systems, which can result in clogging the fuel system,” according to fuel and combustion expert Mr. Moshe Tal.
In fuel injection systems:
- Fuel lubricates the fuel pump and injectors;
- Water is a poor lubricant and washes away existing lubrication, causing increased friction and premature failure;
- Water does not compress and water droplets can score or split injectors;
- Water promotes the growth of algae in fuel;
- Water corrosion causes premature fuel system component failure;
- Water freezes in cold climates, causing engine stoppage and distress to the motorist; and
- Too much water can slow the flow of fuel through the fuel filter by absorbing into the filtering media and reducing the effective filtering media surface area.
A good fuel cleaner with water scavenging capabilities permanently solubilizes water in fuel by creating a bond between water molecules and fuel molecules. The micronized water solubilizes into the fuel, held in permanent suspension, thus eliminating the large water droplets. The solubilized water is then removed through the combustion process as a combustion enhancer.
The Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association (AMRA), a group concerned with strengthening communication and trust between the automotive industry and its consumers, recommends a chemical engine de-carbonization service be performed every 15,000 miles or one year which ever comes first. However, choosing the correct fuel system cleaner does matter. A quality cleaner with 2-stage cleaning and water removal capabilities will make you a hero with customers. Your customers will physically be able to feel the difference. Protect your customer’s investments.
Automatic transmissions subject ATF to high temperatures and pressures, causing oxidation, fluid deterioration and eventually breakdown; reducing lubricity while accumulating contaminants, varnish deposits, friction material debris and abrasive wear metals that grind seals, valves and friction surfaces. Lack of maintenance can inhibit shifting, cause leaks and premature transmission failure.
Flushing and fluid replacement before damage occurs will save your customers major repair work and transmission replacement.
A choice in a safe powerful cleaner dissolves and suspends deposits, flushing the entire system of oxidized ATF, varnish deposits, debris and other contaminants. Abrasive wear metals that grind away seals, valves and friction surfaces are removed. All internal components are cleaned and lubricated with fresh ATF. Flushing before adding ATF allows the new ATF to lubricate and control properly without problems caused by detergents suspending previous deposits and other contaminants.
Transmission treatment is also an additive that is sold separately or as a kit with a flush product. Treatments are a great service to the customer especially if it has PTFE. Treatment products with PTFE will help with lasting protection against wear and corrosive attack.
Remember the Council states out of 35 cars a day, 7.7 vehicles needed a transmission service and trust was the single largest factor for a customer when purchasing a maintenance service.
Power steering service
Power steering systems with their fluids are also subject to high temperatures and pressures, causing oxidation, fluid deterioration and eventually breakdown. If maintenance is ignored this can inhibit steering and cause leaks with premature unit failure. Remember you are selling a preventative maintenance service so regular maintenance for your customer will be the best insurance against high repair cost.
The power steering unit is a small hydraulic pump and is subject to the same pressures and heat as large industrial hydraulic systems. Therefore, it is very important to choose a flushing system that uses a larger capacity flush to do a complete flush and fill.
Oil system cleaner
The second largest investment most people make in their lifetime is their vehicle. It is up to you to help them protect their investment. Many people go over the scheduled oil change date or mileage so one of the great opportunities for you would be the oil system cleaner.
Oil system cleaner is a product that can be used every oil change or if a customer has exceeded their mileage. Oil system cleaner is available in small bottles for regular cleanings or larger, gallon size bottles, perfect for the customer who just purchased a vehicle or neglected their own oil change.
Oil system cleaners improve oil circulation to help extend the engine life by reducing wear. It also helps to free stuck piston rings, reduce blow by and excess oil consumption, promoting a more complete drain of used oil. Why put clean oil in a dirty engine?
Larrell I. Willis is the founder of QMI/Full Throttle. For more information, call 800-255-8138. QMI/Full Throttle would like to thank Tech Services Manager Owen Heatwole for his contribution to this article.