An OEM client asked us to develop a training session for dealership service managers, so we did a customary meeting to craft content.

One of the areas the auto company wanted us to cover was how to increase wiper- blades sales. My first reaction was, “Wow, the service managers are going to laugh our staff off the floor.” I figured they have bigger fish to fry. I was wrong.

Wiper-blade sales are a potential gold mine for many dealerships. Most of the customers visiting a service department need new wiper blades. The following shows what that can mean financially to a store.

The $31,601 is gross profit, less commissions. It is not a huge amount, but it’s in addition to what you already have. It could be a determining factor as to whether your quick-service operation makes money or not.

No advertising is required because the customer is already there. Pick up $30,000 here and another $30,000 there, and now we’re talking about sizeable additional gross profit.

The biggest advantage of selling windshield-wiper blades is the customer-retention opportunity it presents. I had my truck serviced at my dealership in Birmingham, AL. I picked up the vehicle, and 10 miles out it started to rain,

The old wipers were chattering like crazy, so I pulled into an auto parts store for a new set of blades. A guy there advised me he had three types: good, better and best. I went with better, as many people do.

After ringing up the sale, he asked if I would like him to install the blades. Absolutely! Remember, it was raining. With a smile, he replaced my wipers as I sat in my truck.

Now how would your customers react to this? The worst part is that they would form a strong impression of where your level of service should be. But the main reason for telling this story is that the dealership missed a chance to sell me wipers while I was there.

The devil is in the details. Here are important points:

  • Wiper-blades sales are a defensive move to keep your customers away from competitors. Once they visit them, you may never sell them again.
  • Inspect wiper blades during the initial write-up. Service advisers should run their fingers over the blade to see the amount of black coming off. They should be check for cupping. They can ask the customer to turn on the wipers to see how they work or just ask the customer about their performance.
  • Selling wiper blades provides customer convenience. I didn’t want to stop at the parts store for my blades. It took time out of my schedule. Your customers are no different.
  • Missing an opportunity to replace those blades could wipe out all the positive customer service you work so hard to perform.

Many managers want to charge an installation fee. This could run customers off in short order.

I recommend free installation. This is always a topic for lively discussion because some service managers fear it will upset the auto technicians. Focus on the big picture of keeping the customer coming back.

Most OEMs have selling tip sheets for service advisers. Consider reviewing those at a staff meeting. Role play the sale.

Selling wiper blades is just one form of customer retention. Still required are people with a passion to serve and earn business at each opportunity.

Fixed-operations consultant Lee Harkins heads M5 Management Services based in Pelham, AL. He can be reached at 205-358-8717 at leesv40sw@aol.com.