Have Oil Changes Become a Commodity?

In the past month or so, I’ve heard a lot of Service Managers and Fixed Operations Directors express that they’ve resigned to the notion that prices dictated by their manufacturers commoditize their routine services – especially oil changes. In other words, their hands are tied – they must now compete on price. To their point, it seems like oil change coupons and promotions are everywhere. I Googled “Oil Change Coupon” and found oil change services starting at $18.95, $10 Off, and even an oil change and tire rotation for $29.95.  Does this suggest that oil changes are indeed a commodity? In the truest sense, a product is a commodity when purchase decisions are made on price alone. As defined by Webster’s: Commoditize to render (a good or service) widely available and interchangeable with one provided by another company Given this definition, oil changes fit the 1st part – they are widely available.  Yet, I don’t quite buy into the notion that oil changes are completely interchangeable from one service provider to another.  Here is why: 188,000,000 oil changes were performed by quick lubes last year – their average sell price for an oil change was over $38. (That’s $20 more than many manufacturer / online promos.) Thus, consumers are not buying on price alone. In an independent study performed by the Quick Lube Industry, consumers indicated that they selected Quick Lubes (in order of importance) for 1) Convenience, 2) Fast Service, and 3) Reputation.  The same study indicated that consumers selected New Car Dealerships (in order of importance) for 1) Trust and 2) Reputation. Thus, consumers are not buying...

What Are Your Customers’ First Impressions of Your Dealership?

As Will Rogers said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Creating favorable customer impressions may even seem easy when you can show off renovated waiting areas and state-of-the-art amenities. But, let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that multimillion dollar investments are the only way to inspire five-star reviews – or that such investments will guarantee them. The reality is that everything and everyone that your customers come in contact with makes impressions on them. Whether you have a brand new state-of the-art facility or a 50 year old pole barn, it is in your best interest to self-examine whether your facility and people represent the image you desire. Let’s examine some facility and employee checks that may – or may not – reflect the ideal impression: Facility Check Common sense tells us that your dealership should be sparkling clean. But, that goes beyond nightly cleaning and ongoing maintenance. If the coffee counter has spills on it at 9 am, the trash can is overflowing at 3 pm and the bathroom is out of toilet paper at 5 pm, it doesn’t matter how clean your dealership was when you opened your doors at 7 am. If your customers see any or all of these situations, you are not likely to elicit the customer experience or perception of your dealership that you desire. Even worse, your customers may assume that the work performed on their vehicles was just as sloppy. To prevent such situations, we recommend keeping cleaning logs within each area that your customers will see. But, don’t expect the log alone to accomplish anything....

When Emergency Strikes, Be Prepared

With winter weather around the corner, now is the time to prepare for the unexpected. An inoperative vehicle can be scary. So, give yourself a little extra peace of mind by making certain you have what you need just in case you become stranded. Here are our tips for creating the perfect auto emergency kit. When it comes to staying safe, think in terms of the basics—water, food and warmth—before anything else: Water: Bottled water will keep you hydrated.  As a rule of thumb, pack at least one bottle for your typical number of passengers. Food: High calorie food bars (protein bars) are nutritious and have a long shelf life despite extreme temperatures. Warmth: Pack a blanket or two – if space allows – in your trunk. Light: A flashlight or light sticks that last for 12 hours will help light your way during a nighttime emergency. Matches: In a crisis, matches come in handy for fire building. Tools: A knife with multiple tool functions makes for easier tasks while you wait for help. Bungee cords, duct tape, a screwdriver, and a wrench come in handy as well. First aid: Bandages, sterile gauze pads, alcohol pads, over the counter pain relievers, Ace wraps and safety pins are great to have on hand in car emergencies, just as they are at home. Cell phone charger: If you don’t already keep a car charger in your vehicle, you should. Use of your cell phone is a lifesaver when emergency strikes. It can even help rescuers find your exact location. Spare Cash: Keep $20 in small bills inside your kit in case...

Customer Feedback Should Drive Customer Experience

How are you using Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) survey results? If you are like most dealerships, you are simply tracking CSI results. Each month you hope to stay “in the green” or above regional and national levels so that you can cash in on manufacturer incentives. Heck, you may even penalize or fire employees that don’t meet these levels. Unfortunately, you are not alone…  Somewhere along the line, the original intent of CSI surveys – to drive customer experience – has been lost. We still believe that the CSI surveys should be used to drive customer experience.  In other words, you should actively gather customer feedback so you can adjust your business model and practices to better meet your customers’ needs.  Here are our tips to achieve this: Gather the right customer feedback Use negative feedback to determine what caused customer dissatisfaction Use positive feedback to praise who exceeded customer expectations Adjust business practices to fix issues and encourage more positive results Gather The Right Customer Feedback There has been a lot of talk recently regarding whether online reviews or manufacturer surveys are better.  The reality is that ALL customer feedback – in any form – is valuable when used correctly.  The great news is that consumers now have lots of ways to express their service experience: social media status updates, website comments, car enthusiast forums, blog posts, Business Development Center (BDC) follow-up calls, email, and even manufacturer CSI surveys.  Make certain that you are gathering this customer feedback.  We recommend setting up Google Alerts to be immediately notified anytime your dealership name or employees are mentioned online.  This...

Why Krex Graphite Engine Lubricant®?

We know that car dealerships takes every opportunity to choose the right products with the most benefits to the vehicles in their care.  Here at Krex, Inc., we recommend graphite as the ultimate product for engine lubrication.  Here’s why Krex Graphite Engine Lubricant® should be your lubricant of choice: Heat Resistant “By adding Krex Graphite Engine Lubricant®, you’re increasing the heat range and the lubricity of the oil,” says Walter Bushala, marketing manager at Krex, Inc.  “Graphite is a solid that won’t melt until temperatures of 5000° F.  This really is the ultimate heat resistant material available today.” Improved Performance Since car owners check oil far less frequently than in years past and manufacturers recommend longer intervals between oil changes, Bushala says this scenario likely means that vehicles are operating with less oil.  “Graphite increases the ability of engines to run successfully, even if they’re running slightly low on oil,” he says.  One application of Krex Graphite Engine Lubricant® protects a vehicle for six months or 5,000 miles. The Staying Power of Graphite In a typical vehicle, oil drips down into the pan after you turn the engine off.  An engine lubricated with graphite experiences something very different.  “Graphite holds onto oil, keeping it inside the engine,” Bushala says.  “No matter when you start your car again – an hour, a week or a month later – there will still be oil in the engine, and this reduces wear over time.” Lubricant, Not Additive Many manufacturers warn against using additives in vehicles, often giving them a bad reputation.  Keep in mind that graphite is not an additive, it’s a...