American Honda Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recently recalled nearly 2 million cars and trucks, most of them older and long out of factory warranty. Chances are, a good number of the Honda and Acura vehicles returning for new airbag inflators, and FCA cars and SUVs coming back for replacement catalytic converters, haven't seen a pair of factory-trained hands in years.
There was a time when many service departments considered customers who brought their older vehicles in for mandatory safety and emissions recalls off limits for soliciting extra business, such as oil changes, tires and brake work. The shops were too busy with warranty jobs or weren't set up for fast oil changes, muffler replacements and tire sales at competitive prices. No more: In fact, automakers such as Ford and Volkswagen now encourage service managers to embrace recall customers.
Customers driving older cars who have migrated to independent shops for tires, oil changes, mufflers and other work may not know that many dealerships' service departments now are competitive with indies on price and speed of repairs. And customers who need recall work are fair game, a couple of industry veterans told me.
"When managed properly, recalls are really a fantastic opportunity for dealers to reconnect and to create an experience that leads to more business in the future," says David Foutz, vice president of sales at Cox Automotive's Xtime.