Giving away oil changes

If you’ve sat through my instructor led classes, specifically the Upset Customer course, you’ll know that I’m a fan of giving away oil changes. No, not giving away oil changes just to lure customers into your shop. And no, not giving them away to make grumpy customers feel like they’re getting something for nothing. Giving away oil changes can both create customer loyalty and give customers a reason to try you again.

Let’s look at why oil changes and not some other service or product. Firstly, it’s tough to make a ton of money with an oil change. Filters cost, oil costs, and you’ve got to pay a technician to perform the service. This adds up no matter how you try to save. If you make even $10 on an oil change you’ve done well. That said, giving away an oil change isn’t giving away much gross profit. Some could make the case that it’s cheaper than marketing dollars spent on direct mail pieces.

Secondly, look at what an oil change means to a customer. Customers have been conditioned since the beginning of the automobile to have their oil changed. It’s one of the few services they recognize a need for. Therefore it has high intrinsic value to the customer. Getting a “free” oil change feels good to a customer. Even if they are grumpy with you because of a real or imagined slight to them they will still recognize the value of an oil change.

So here you have product that has high value to the customer but makes you little gross profit. Use these facts to create customer loyalty programs. “Buy 4 Get One Free” programs can keep customers coming to you for oil changes instead of stopping by some other shop for their oil changes. This makes sure that it’s you who see the vehicle first when it need brake work, an alignment, or other preventative maintenance.

Also, use a free oil change to give a grumpy customer a reason to return to you for service. Just resolving whatever problem the customer had isn’t enough of a reason to return to you. They’ve got to have a reason they recognize to come back and give you another try. A free oil change at least gets passed on to a friend or relative even if they are grumpy enough to not return to you.

Use free oil changes as a customer retention tool!


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