OEM or Aftermarket Parts—How Can You Best Advise Your Customers?
by Sara Eisenberg
We’ve covered how to talk with your customers about repairs and maintenance procedures—but how do you talk with them about the parts needed for either repairs or maintenance? There are OEM parts, high-quality aftermarket parts, lower quality aftermarket parts, refurbished parts and everything in between. It can be overwhelming for customers to decide what to use—and it’s your job as an advisor to help them make the right choice.
The most common considerations when choosing parts are availability, price and quality (not necessarily in that order). Price tends to be the deciding factor for customers, but cheaper parts are not necessarily worse, just as more expensive parts are not necessarily better. You know that parts can vary by brand and by vehicle, and some parts are manufactured to need replacement while others are manufactured to last. Much of your knowledge is based on experience with parts manufacturers as well as the different parts that need replacement. That experience is invaluable to your customers, so share it.
It’s important that you communicate to your customers the options and outcomes of buying quality parts versus less expensive parts. With pricing, for example, it can be helpful to use the “good, better, best” pricing strategy. Customers appreciate having a choice and it gives them a basis for comparison. Three-tiered pricing gives your shop credibility because it demonstrates that you are equipped to deliver high-end parts and services and also allows you to effectively compete against discount shops.
Explain the differences, whether it is materials, where the part is made, the brand name associated with the part or anything else. Make your recommendation and explain why you are recommending that part—perhaps it’s a part that wears out every few years regardless of the manufacturer, so there’s no big difference to go with aftermarket over OEM. Or perhaps it’s an OEM part that you’ve seen fewer issues with than the comparable aftermarket part. Be sure to define both verbally and in writing the different quality results and warranty periods.
It is ultimately up to the customer to decide what quality and price level they are comfortable with. Strive for advising and educating your customers about parts, services and the maintenance intervals needed to keep their vehicle in top shape and you will become a trusted resource they turn to whenever a question arises. That’s a customer for life!
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