Hyundai of Yuma, in Arizona, offers all active military personnel and veterans free oil changes — whether or not they drive a Hyundai vehicle.
The practice makes the dealership well known on the nearby military base. It also initiates a relationship between customers and the store, establishing the service department as a trusted source for future work.
John Baladi, director of operations at Hyundai of Yuma, says the program started in April 2015, a month after its dealer principal, Abe Razick, opened the store.
Razick, a Marine veteran, wanted "to take care of his military men and women," Baladi told Fixed Ops Journal. The dealership shares a fence with Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, he adds.
Baladi, 40, notes that Razick's other two dealerships, Kia of Yuma and Escondido Hyundai, in California, offer similar oil change programs. Baladi also is operations director at those stores.
But he says Hyundai of Yuma's program has been around the longest and tends to attract the most participants. The store receives most of its military customers from the Marine base, but Baladi says an ample number of retired veterans in the Yuma area also take advantage of the program.
The dealership performs about 100 free oil changes in peak months, Baladi says, and the monthly volume never dips below 50. He declined to discuss the cost of the program.
Military identification is required for the free oil change. Baladi says the program makes it easy for customers who are new to the area to find a place they can trust for vehicle service.
"It introduces us to military men and women who haven't been to our dealership before," Baladi says. "If their vehicle does need anything in the future, they've started a relationship with us."