Sud's Motor Car Co. doesn't give service customers free car washes, free loaner cars or complimentary pickup and delivery.
Yet on average about 25 vehicles a day come to Sud's for service in Normal, Ill., a town with a population of about 52,000. Some loyal customers even drive from nearly 50 miles away.
By skipping amenities, Sud's can charge a lower price than competitors for service work.
"There is nothing free in life. You pay for it. So when people say, 'We'll give you a free loaner,' the cost for it is buried in there somewhere," says Gian Sud, owner of Sud's Motor Car. He sells Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen, Subaru, Volvo and Lincoln vehicles.
Sud's customers can get loaner cars, car washes, detail work and vehicle pickup and delivery. But they must pay for the services.
As a result, Sud's can charge $90 an hour for service work, compared with local competitors who charge up to $125 an hour.
"Why should a customer have to pay, say, $110 an hour because of a loaner vehicle if they don't need it?" Sud says. "A person might want to work in the lounge for four hours and wait. Another person might want a loaner car to run errands. That person can pay for the loaner."
Sud's offers free breakfast and shuttle service within 15 miles of the dealership. And some of the brands Sud sells reimburse him for amenities on warranty work.
About 50 percent of Sud's service work is warranty work, he says. Sud says his service department accounts about 55 percent of his dealership's annual profits. And he credits his strong service business for at least 25 percent of the 600 new and used vehicles he sells annually.
"I feel we're improving our credibility with the clientele. The old saying is: Sales sells the first car, service sells the second and the third," Sud says.
Sud's no-frills service plan has been in place for 10 years. He got the idea during a trip to Phoenix, where he had admired some matchboxes at his hotel and asked the clerk if he could have one. The clerk said yes.
"I said, 'How about if I take two since they're free?' He said, 'They're not free. They're priced into your room price.' That stuck with me."
Sud says his service policies have improved his relationship with customers, too.
Says Sud: "They know honestly what we sell. There is no fighting over it."