Car service centers
Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share
27 July 2010
Car service centers lost in a quagmire
It’s time for me get my car serviced which got me thinking about the vast number of choices consumers like myself have when choosing a service center. In fact, there are too many choices. Within a five-mile radius I have a choice of several filling/service stations that could do the job. Or do I instead go to Precision Tune or one of the three Jiffy Lubes?
But wait, I could also go to Firestone or Bridgestone which also fall within this five-mile radius, as does Sear or Costco. In addition, I have the option of going to the dealer where my vehicle was purchased.
“From a branding perspective, aside from a few dealers, there is nothing that any of these companies are doing that makes the consumer to want to remain loyal.”
With such a variety of choices coupled with the constant barrage of coupons and convenience of location, it’s no wonder these companies continue to scramble for market share.
Companies like Firestone and Bridgestone, whose target business was once to sell consumers tires, has expanded to offer the same services offered by the Jiffy Lubes and Precision Tunes centers. But wait, I can now buy my tires at Precision even though it claims to be an affordable and convenient car repair center.
I, of course, can get all this and more from Costco, Sears and the dealers.
The specialty centers are like pharmacies that were once the place for our medicines but now are now convenience stores where we can pick up our milk and eggs and light bulbs. Though these service centers have kept their names, in essence they have lost their focus and might as well add an “and more” to the end such as Precision Tune and More.
The problem with many of these specialty centers is that they confuse branding their company with what they do. And in so many cases, as market place expanded and they saw their market share decreasing, they decided to expand what services were offered.
So the tire centers began offering oil changes and the lube centers began selling tires, etc.
So how do we decide where we should go with all these choices? Of these service centers, the only one that seems to live up to their brand is Jiffy Lube. But with so much competition out there, it seems that Jiffy Lube has to put more and more locations in order to compete in this cluttered space because, for the most part, the consumer is driven by convenience and price.
From a branding perspective, aside from a few dealers, there is nothing that any of these companies are doing that makes the consumer to want to remain loyal. Does the consumer really think Precision Tune does a superior job than Jiffy Lube or vice versa? Or is it that one is at a closer distance to either work or home? Or was the deciding factor based on which offered the best coupon? This is not winning. This is just swimming.
For the many centers that have names they have clearly outgrown, it’s time to take a good hard look at who you are as a company. More importantly, they need to ask themselves who is it that they wish to influence. As a company, they must find what its consumer values and then position itself in a way that reaches them emotionally.
In such a crowded market space, if you want to really compete, then its time to get clarity.
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