Your questions posed to our experts - with Graeme Cassidy, Mobil1
Q. How can I optimise my earning potential from top-up oil sales?
It is a well documented fact that the dealer network, together with independent workshops, sell just 35% of all top-up oil. The remainder of annual sales are distress purchases, predominantly at petrol forecourts, supermarkets or DIY retailers.
To optimise top-up oil earning potential and take advantage of this sales opportunity we recommend three simple steps:
Targeted product and sales training: A knowledgeable and persuasive service adviser will boost customer acceptance and provide powerful arguments to help sell high-margin, high-quality lubricant brands. They convert the distress purchase into a convenience purchase, as anyone who has had their oil light come on will confirm.
Tailored marketing and communication support: As workshops see customer less frequently, the initiation of progressive customer retention strategies is vital Point of Sale presence: Improve customer buy-in with greater brand presence of the oil product; customers who recognise and have a visual affiliation with a brand are more likely to be comfortable
Q. When looking at changing suppliers, how much of the consideration should be about the price and how much about what support the supplier provides?
Dealers should consider how consumers buy a car. Price is important, but it is never the sole criteria. They will have chosen the brand, specified the model and identified any added value services on offer before engaging with you on the cost.
The same considered approach should be applied when a dealer looks at its oil supplier. The support system can be priceless and turn a stocking decision into a significant P&L line for the business.
From simple tools like point-of-sale material to integrated training for front line staff – the partnership ethos will optimise sales and customer retention.
By working with an oil brand, rather than viewing them as just a supplier, profit centres can be identified, plans can be designed and sales and marketing channels can be engaged. From service fills to top ups and even trade sales, the right oil partner will deliver more than just a competitively priced product.
And just as the consumer chooses a vehicle brand, they identify and recognise the value of lubricant trademark.
Q. How can selling a premium motor oil such as Mobil 1 enhance my dealership as a whole?
Selling a recognised brand will have a positive impact on revenue. When McDonald’s stopped offering Coca-Cola and introduced their own-brand Cola, sales fell by 25%.
Why? Because customer’s didn’t associate with the product as well as they had previously, they weren’t being given the reassurances they needed to be comfortable with their purchase.
In promoting a premium motor oil or any such aftersales brands, you’ll find yourself reinforcing the values of the franchise and reaffirming to the customer that you only ever use the best materials, parts and skills to maintain their car to the highest possible standards.
Formula 1 has been Mobil 1’s shop window on the world. For nearly 30 years, that has allowed the brand to be at the forefront of automotive lubrication innovation in the eyes of the public.
Understandably, Mobil 1, has been advocating the benefits of proactively selling brands rather than products to the franchised community.
Training programmes for service personnel, supported by point of sale material only go to strengthen the customer’s recognition of the trust and benefits of a strong brand.
Q. How important is staff training to the P&L of my dealership?
Staff training is crucial to drive workshop efficiency and improve profitability in your dealership.
Investment in your staff, especially customer-facing personnel such as service receptionists and advisers, will impact the development of your business and help you improve efficiency and up-sell opportunities.
By offering educated advice to the customer you will also deliver peace of mind, build on the trust which consumers already have in dealerships and win more repeat business.
On a daily basis, we see the difference a proactive approach can make to the workshop and service environment. As part of our best practice programme, our Mobil 1 Top Up training and education programme delivers on all these fronts. The net result is more profit for your business.
With a greater appreciation of lubricants and their importance to the individual motorist and the dealership, staff will automatically drive competency into the sales process.
Kick-start your drive for efficiency today by looking at any deficiencies in staff training and customer education. Address it and see the difference to the bottom line.
Q. What is Mobil 1 doing to educate customers about the importance of using the correct oil for their car?
Petrol forecourts are responsible for the majority of aftermarket Top Up sales, and with oil being traditionally viewed as a ‘distress purchase’, dealers have a unique opportunity to take ownership of the sales channel.
Against a backdrop of longer service intervals and advancing engine technology, the economic downturn is forcing motorists to not only delay routine visits but buy cheaper oil.
Supported by strong point of sale material, the education message from the customer service team should be a preventive one.By highlighting the impact of inferior products and incorrect grades on DPFS and catalytic converters, together with the potential cost of remedial action, they can demonstrate an interest in the customer’s long term motoring needs.
This is where Top Up sales come in. The choice on the forecourt or retail outlet is often large and confusing. Customer support is either negligible or impersonal.
The dealership environment should be the antithesis of both. Applied thinking from the simple inclusion of the brand of oil on your invoicing to making sure staff are more knowledgeable will boost customer acceptance of oil up-sell opportunities.
Q. What is your expert opinion on call centres and what is your opinion on shedding technicians during this challenging period?
Some have already chosen to close their call centre operations in reaction to the economic downturn. Certainly, they have fulfilled a valuable role in delivering a channel to proactively upsell. However, the worth of a telephone hub certainly differs between sites, and the adoption of proactive communication from your own team, so that customers can get to know key individuals, should never be overlooked.
Indeed, with a shortage of footfall, instead of waiting for the phone to ring, personally taking responsibility and looking after the needs and wishes of the individual customer will deliver for your dealership.
Reducing headcount is always a difficult decision. Technicians are highly skilled employees and the cost of replacement when traffic volumes increase should be considered.
During the last downturn, large numbers entered the market, with many choosing to set up as independent specialist or sole traders to meet the demands of customers shopping around for more competitive rates. The lesson is to adapt your service pricing to reflect an ageing car park and deliver a business plan that allows you to retain your prized assets and customers.
More from Graeme Cassidy
With the current state of the economy and subsequent fall in car sales – both new and used – retaining existing customers and maximising the opportunities to service their needs could be the key to long term survival.
As National Accounts and OEM Manager (Lubricants) for Mobil 1 in the UK, Graeme Cassidy knows only too well the challenges facing the franchised network, but is equally aware of the methods of protecting what you already have, and building even greater relationships with your car parc.
“By focusing on knowledge, skills and attitude, your AfterSales staff – from the service receptionist to service advisor, can become more involved with customers and build stronger, more lasting relations,” he says.
“In offering the right technical support, you build a level of trust and respect that allows you to make the most of every business opportunity.”
Its 34 years since Graeme joined the Company as a chemist at the Esso Research Centre. The vast majority of his tenure has been on the ‘people side of the business’ working directly with individual dealers and groups.
Since 1991, he has either managed sales teams across the UK, or advised dealers on marketing their AfterSales service as part of the total business support system Mobil 1 has become famous for.
However, Graeme is only too aware of the challenges facing the current generation of franchised dealers.
The consumer is more educated and surrounded by greater choice – especially in the service department. At the same time, the technical complexity of the modern vehicle means service intervals continue to be stretched reducing that all important face-time with the customer and regular revenue generation.
“The dealer is literally fighting on all sides,” says Graeme. “However, they have a head start on the independent as they understand the vehicle better than anyone else and can provide valuable peace of mind. Yet, the pressure to maximise revenue opportunities is greater than ever before.”
In his role, Graeme and his national team of business managers, help franchised dealers identify these opportunities and present practical, marketing and sales initiatives to assist in turning an opportunity into a revenue stream.
From Top-Ups to Service Advisor education and training programmes, from technological innovations to improve servicing and customer relationship management, Graeme helps to spearhead dealers to optimise their potential.