In this age of better vehicle quality, service departments should do more than wait for customers to bring their vehicles in for repairs.

So says George Antico, an ex-auto shop owner who is now president of eAutoClub, developer of eAutoWiz, a data-mining and variable-printing program that creates personalized and detailed point-of-sale-reports and customer service reminders.

He says, “Too many shops wait for their customers' vehicles to break down, and play the odds that customers will come back to their shop again, but do very little to effectively sway them back for repeat preventive maintenance service.

“This business model of the ‘80s and ‘90s is no longer working because there has been a huge increase in vehicle reliability. In the ‘80s we had 200 repairs for every 300 vehicles on the road. Today we only have 50 repairs for the same 300 vehicles.

“If you are waiting for repairs to return, they won't. Shops need to maximize the maintenance business they can capture from their existing customers, and do this in the most efficient and cost-effective method possible.”

Otherwise repeat maintenance business can be lost to competitors. That repeat business is essential, he says.

“It is better to inform customers of all service needs ahead of time, rather than just telling them to come in for an oil change and then have to bring up other items when they come in,” says Antico.

“Industry estimates show that it costs 25 times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one,” he says. “Yet, most shops' advertising and marketing budgets are spent exclusively on looking for new customers.”

He claims eAutoWiz's advantage over simple service-reminder programs is an ability to send out personalized direct-mail pieces with varying messages, photos, special offers and detailed vehicle-specific preventive maintenance information.

Maintenance information includes how many miles since a particular vehicle's last tire rotation, oil change, brake check and nine other tracked recurring services.