In a discussion yesterday with our partners at Zonic Design, we learned the following: nationally, only 50% of Toyota car owners return to the dealership for their first scheduled maintenance visits. The stunning part is, the first maintenance visit is always free.
Half of customers turning down free service is the clearest indictment of the dealer service model I have seen to date.
Three other notes here:
1) From our experience at ClearMechanic, Toyota has above-average (and in many cases excellent) service relative to other dealerships, so I expect the 50% figure is worse for many franchises.
2) Without access to the raw Toyota data, it’s tough to tell whether Toyota customers never come back the free visit or simply miss the scheduled date (but perhaps make the visit a few months later).
3) Much of the blame falls on dealerships for a reputation of inconvenience and poorly explained upsells. But blame also goes to car owners, who are generally unknowledgeable about vehicle maintenance. A “check engine light” or other obvious malfunction is typically the reason for a dealer visit.