Does Your Complimentary Service Make Sense?


You may think I am whining but… read on;

This is the second time in recent months that I have received a complimentary vehicle when dropping off my car for service.  And, you know what, if you were trying to entice me to buy one of these cars – you failed – miserably.

From the point of view of the service provider there are 2 ways to look at this:

1) Be happy, I am giving you a free car and who really cares; or                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2) I am giving you a free car in order to provide you with a reminder of the service and quality of which our company provides and why you chose us.


Hmmm, give me a moment or so to tell you that – you failed.

In the first instance, I received a car from a repair shop that was not a seller of vehicles.  Now yes, it was great that they gave me a vehicle, but the vehicle was terrible.  Now this is not a complaint against the shop (well a little bit), because they served option 1.  It is a complaint against the vehicle manufacturer as they should have found a way to provide him with a better vehicle for me to walk away and say, “not bad, maybe not my style, but not bad”.

And, to be honest, the car was bad enough that the repair shop must ask themselves what it is doing for their image too.  Regardless if they sell cars or not.

With respect to the second instance, I received a courtesy vehicle when bringing my car in for service at a dealership.  They gave me their low-end car. Hmmm, as you can guess, they feel they served option 1.  But they missed an opportunity for me to try something different, to dream about my next vehicle.

Make no mistake, I will need a new car, so why not make me wish I had this new car now.  Don’t give me something to complain about.  Am I happy I got a car – yes – but they missed an opportunity to impress me, to make me want to buy from them again.

So, my question to you is:  Does your complimentary product or service intend to serve option 1 or 2.  And regardless of which option you choose does it reflect who you are?

Now there is a problem with pushing out to number 2, and that is by providing a better car all that might happen is that they would incur more costs and not increase future sales.  So in that case, maybe it is a good idea to serve option 1 and not worry about customers like me?  But I doubt it.

Regardless, have you done an analysis to determine if you should stick with the cheap alternative?  Maybe you should experiment with different offerings and see what results transpire.  But at the very least, you should know the cost benefit of any complimentary option you wish to offer, and you should at least ask yourself if it is demonstrating the image that you want.

Thanks, Jim.


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