Watt believes that customers who bring in their
vehicles for small stuff aren’t getting the attention the vehicles
deserve. Say someone brings in a vehicle for an oil change. If the shop
is slammed, most likely, that vehicle won’t get a thorough review to
see if that vehicle needs anything else. That vehicle owner will
leave the shop happy because they got the oil change they wanted. But
what did the shop miss? Therein lies the sweet spot, Watt believes.
who spoke at the recent 15th annual Global Automotive Aftermarket
Symposium in Chicago, gave some numbers and scenarios which seem
plausible. Watt gave an example where a shop has 14 vehicles in the
bays on a particular day, and five of them need only an oil change.
Nine of the other vehicles produce $4,250 worth of work. The five with
oil changes produce only $250.
“The techs, busy with the other nine
vehicles, had no time to do proper road tests and inspections,” Watt
said. “The customers left the shop thinking nothing was wrong with
their vehicles.” Five “less reliable” vehicles are on the road for the
next three to six months and the drivers don’t know it, Watt said. But
say those vehicles each needed $450 worth of other work? (Which, given
the current state of economic affairs and the fact owners are letting
work slide even longer and longer, seems entirely possible.) If this
scenario happens just twice a week, 52 weeks a year, it adds up to a
potential of $234,000 in missed sales. If this figure is applied to
only 80 percent of the country’s auto repair shops, it adds up to $43.5
billion a year.
Those five vehicles were let into the shop to
satisfy the customer’s timing. It’s time, Watt believes, to change the
customer’s expectations. He suggests asking them to come in on slower
days where the vehicles can get a closer look and the shops can
generate more business.
What’s this mean to you? Obviously, more
sales. Now, I know as well as anyone, this sounds a lot easier on paper
than it likely will be to accomplish in real life. But it’s worth a
Ask a bunch of people these days
what their most valued possession is, and they’ll likely give you
varying answers. Research in Europe, Germany and Japan shows that those
in “Generation Y,” generally recognized as people born from the
mid-1970s to the very early 80s value their mobile phone more than any
other possession. (They’re different than “Generation X” types, who
were born after 1963, the end of the Baby Boomers).
older than Generation X or Y and they’ll likely tell you they value
their automobile the most. Based on that, Daimler and PSA Peugot
Citroen are testing programs that are similar to car-sharing, according
to an article in The Financial Times newspaper.
Where the mobile
phone concept comes in is that those in Generation Y apparently show a
liking for being able to use pay-as-you-go for vehicles. Or being able
to pay for car use based on packages of minutes and data, just like
they do with a mobile phone.
This pay-as-you-go concept isn’t just
being tested in Europe, it turns out. Daimler’s trying it out in
Austin, Texas, according to the FT.
If this trend, and that is a big
“if,” somehow catches on, there are obvious far-reaching implications
for those in the automotive aftermarket.
Is this a long way off? Probably. But things these days seems to change much more rapidly than in times past.