F ixed price servicing. It’s the thing in the automotive industry right now, especially in Australia. If a manufacturer isn’t offering it currently they will in due course.
However, is a fixed price servicing offer all about price? Will this be a race to the bottom? Will we see $0 price servicing in the next few years?
Probably, but I think those focus solely on price are missing the point.
Certainly the most stressful part in any person’s life is the unknown. It’s what prevents some people from even confronting something that needs to be done.
Whether it be the doctor, the dentist or a car dealer, what was supposed to be a checkup can turn into a very expensive exercise. How can most of us argue with what has had to be done? It can be a helpless situation for many.
In my experience the time that you can observe the true quality of a service department is between 3-6pm, which is when the customers come and pick up their cars. If at that time the customer is not expecting the price or if the customer has not been contacted about extra work or even if the final prices differs wildly from the quote or expectation, then you can expect confrontation and expression of disappointment.
Certainly my recent experience with my car has not been the happiest for me and to be honest, it has come to the stage where picking up the car after a service is the most stressful point. This is because of two previous instances, both of which were final prices that differed from the quote given. I’m not talking a few dollars here, i’m talking $150-300 more than the quote and the tyres didn’t even get rotated, which is part of the service.
In both instances, when I pointed this out, they wiped off the excess to the original quote without argument. That is fine, but it certainly left me feeling quite ripped off, like they had added the markup for the hell of it.
So how does all of this relate to fixed price servicing?
Fixed price servicing is about managing expectations. You (as a customer) know the the price of the service will be exactly as advertised. You know the price you are going to pay, even if the price differs from an A service (minor service) to a B service (major service). You can happily go into the dealership knowing that you will not receive bill shock.
Managing customer expectation (as part of managing the ownership experience) is vital to customer loyalty.
Whether a customer is choosing you for their next service or next car, a stress free, no surprises service experience certainly goes a long way towards to a customer deciding to stick with you.
As an industry, we must look at fixed price servicing as a customer service exercise, not a marketing one.