Keeping Toyota service customers in-house

Toyota dealers trying to maximize their service revenue just got a big assist from the factory.

The maintenance plan that now comes standard on Toyota and Scion vehicles should keep more new-car buyers coming back to the dealership. That gives dealers a better chance to establish a relationship with those customers and earn more business later on.

It’s a smart move on Toyota’s part, which is trying to keep customers loyal after a spate of recalls. Many retailers have been trying to build better service relationships with those recall customers. At the height of the recall, dealers were hesitant to upsell customers on added service work. That was the right instinct then.

But if they reach out now, maybe with special promotions, they could cement stronger ties with those customers. The new maintenance plan will help them retain new and repeat buyers.

A Toyota official said standard maintenance should also improve the brand’s national service retention rate. That rate has been disappointing, a dealer told me last week. This is a good start.