Adding a new service to your shop’s menu can be a great way to boost revenues and serve customers better, but not all additions are the same. A new retail item, like a wiper blade, is a quick process with a good vendor. But a larger service change might require equipment training, space considerations, and customer education.
Don’t let that leg work deter you from adding a great new service. Take it from Mark Nofer, a longtime operator and owner of Quick Change Oil and Lube Center in Van Wert, Ohio. He’s made some important additions in recent years, and because he spent the time to really get to know the equipment, the processes went smoothly.
In short, each shop’s leader needs to make sure they are up to speed on the new equipment or service first. But that doesn’t mean it’s a one-person job. A group effort is what makes the new service successful.
“For me, it’s going and seeing the equipment and getting with the manufacturer reps and having them show me how things work,” Nofer says. “And I familiarize myself with the manuals that come with it.”
Step 1: Learn It Yourself
This duty might fall on the owner-operator or the shop manager—or both. The key is that the person at the top of the service center should be able to know the new service and troubleshoot issues to some degree.
In Nofer’s shop, that’s his role. He’s naturally someone who reads the owner's manuals and gets to know all of the equipment, fittings, specs, and other parts very well. The reason is obvious: to teach your team.
One of the last big changes Nofer made in his shop was a new transmission flush machine. He made sure he knew the ins and outs of the unit before teaching his staff.
“I explain it to them, I show them and walk through it, and then I’ll step it up and watch them and guide them before they make a mistake,” he says.
Step 2: Rely on Vendors
A good vendor should be your go-to resource not just to purchase equipment, but to aid in the setup and training, especially for more complex equipment.
Nofer learned this a few years back when his shop got a new lift. In this case, he was hoping to move into a larger model than he had. Nofer says a company representative came out and measured the shop space, from floor to ceiling. After the purchase, the company took care of the delivery, installation, and leveling.
When adding services, make sure that the head of your shop knows who to call in case of a mistake that could hold up valuable service time. Often, new services and equipment are learned over the normal course of business.
Step 3: Educate Customers
This isn’t a difficult part of the process, but it’s an important one. When Nofer got his new transmission flush machine, it was just a matter of reminding customers about the service at the same mileage as before.
“Usually that’s what we do,” he says. “If people ask about it, or if we see fluid getting a little darker, we let people know ahead of time.”
The important thing is that the customer is aware that your shop can take care of certain services, especially if it’s something brand new to your operation. This is also true when your shop upgrades products or services to meet changing vehicle needs. Nofer remembers when he started carrying DEXOS oils for General Motors vehicles. A lot of customer education went into that switch, because drivers were used to more options before.
The best practice to grow a relationship with repeat customers is to introduce the new service not as a sale right then, but for them to think about later.
It’ll be there when the customer is ready.