Oil prices are lower than they have been in years, with the price per barrel half what it was just last June, according to the New York Times. The related decrease in gas prices at the pump might have a startling effect on the auto industry—for both sales and service shops alike.
Most of the changes your dealership will experience will happen in the sales department. However, positive effects are making their way over to service departments as well. If you haven’t already noticed these trends for yourself, consider these four ways less expensive gas can bring customers into your shop.
More Auto Sales
Lower oil prices encourage consumers to buy more cars. The less money they have to spend on gas, the more room motorists will have in their budgets for a new vehicle. Since the economy has also improved in recent years, motorists have more money to spend and more reasons to spend it on a new car, truck, or SUV.
For service shops, more vehicle purchases mean more new service customers. Both from new drivers, since parents might now be more inclined to buy a vehicle for their teenagers, and from motorists buying new and used vehicles.
More Driving Time
When you dread seeing the total every time you fill up your tank, you’re less inclined to drive all over town on a whim. With lower gas prices, spontaneous road trips and drives across town don’t seem like such a big deal. This means more motorists on the road and longer trips.
The more time cars spend on the road, the more wear and tear they will sustain. This makes routine maintenance even more important, and increased wear will lead to greater need for repairs as well. Greater wear can also contribute to overall auto sales, and new purchases route new customers to your service shop.
Fewer Hybrid Sales
When gas prices are high, motorists have a big incentive to purchase a fuel-efficient car. Hybrids come with expensive battery replacements and other maintenance challenges, but with high oil prices, they still represent a significant return on investment.
As gas prices fall, motorists will feel less inclined to purchase expensive hybrid and electric cars. While this doesn’t necessarily translate to more service in your shop, it does mean your service strategies might start to change.
More Light Vehicle Sales
If your shop ever handles light commercial vehicles, get ready to see more of them around. Lower oil prices will result in higher light vehicle sales, which, along with consumer vehicle sales, will lead to more customers in your service department.
Low gas prices present a unique opportunity for service shops. As falling oil prices bring new customers to your shop, focus on innovative ways to engage and retain them. After all, oil prices won’t stay low forever, so now is the time to build up your customer base.