Sunday, August 18Serving the aftermarket

Free checks do work, just prepare for holiday dates!

The Easter holidays are fast approaching, and so the country prepares for expected mayhem on the roads as families on holiday over the extended break take to their cars and travel the length and breadth of the country.

Of course, this is an opportunity for garages to offer free checks, a service that can also be applied at the start of any bank holiday weekend, or, perhaps more crucially, any school holiday. Do you have a copy of your county’s term dates? They’re freely available in PDF format online, just search on the internet using one of the many available search engines… ok, Google…

Knowing the key dates when families are likely to make more trips can give you notice to start offering those free checks on wipers, bulbs, tyres and so on. The number of cars I’ve seen recently with one headlight working on the motorway, and the fact that lighting and signalling systems are the biggest cause of MOT failures for the past four years, shows that vehicle owners don’t really have a clue about regular safety checks.

I know we all bang on about doing things for free to bring in the customers, but it does work. A free suspension check on my Fiesta ST recently highlighted a leaking damper. It wasn’t a major leak, more a misting, but the garage got the work all the same. 

Advertising a free check, being open with the customer and explaining the issues you find, then offering a no-obligation quote, works. 

It’s a strategy the big guys use. I’ve had four press releases so far from manufacturers and fast-fit centres about their ‘spring checks’ – and if they’re getting customers in, you can too.

Actually there’s a decent slogan… ‘we don’t just offer ‘spring checks’ – we will look at the whole car…’ No? I’ll postpone the career in advertising for a bit longer then…