GM Gambles on Adding Free Maintenance to Increase Customer Loyalty

by Jon LeSage

SITUATION:

  • In this era of stan­dard offer­ings now includ­ing info­tain­ment, con­nec­tiv­i­ty, and telem­at­ics, how about throw­ing free main­te­nance onto the list?
  • Gen­er­al Motors is tak­ing that gam­ble, offer­ing free main­te­nance on most of its 2014 Chevro­let, Buick, and GMC mod­els – the tar­get is increas­ing sales and cus­tomer loy­al­ty, accord­ing to GM CEO Dan Aker­son.
  • What do they get? Free oil and fil­ter changes, tire rota­tions, and 27-point inspec­tions for two years or 24,000 miles, whichev­er comes first.
  • GM already offers such ser­vices on its Chevro­let Sil­ver­a­do and GMC Sier­ra pick­ups and a more exten­sive pro­gram for Cadil­lac.
  • Near­ly all GM prod­ucts will offer the deal with the excep­tion of a few low-vol­ume high-per­for­mance cars.

SIGNIFICANCE:

  • Aker­son thinks the move will “forge even stronger rela­tion­ships” between GM deal­er­ships and cus­tomers and “to kick the own­er­ship expe­ri­ence off on the right foot.”
  • Loy­al­ty is key – Aker­son said cus­tomers who have ser­vice done at the deal­er­ship are more like­ly to return there for their next pur­chase.
  • All of this start­ed years ago with lux­u­ry cars. More recent­ly, Toy­ota and Volk­swa­gen have offered free main­te­nance across their US line­ups.
  • Deal­ers like these main­te­nance pro­grams because it can become a rela­tion­ship builder to close future sales and draws cus­tomers back to their stores as ser­vice cus­tomers.
  • Some deal­ers have com­plained about the pay­back – GM doesn’t reim­burse them for all ser­vices pro­vid­ed to cus­tomers.
  • GM brands had above-aver­age indus­try gains in US own­er loy­al­ty dur­ing the first quar­ter of this year, accord­ing to a Polk study. GM is hope­ful its main­te­nance pro­grams will up the num­bers.

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