For most Americans, driving is the most dangerous thing they do on a daily basis. Sure, there are exceptions — the daredevil, police officer and friend who always seems to be getting hurt — but for most of your customers and their passengers, their lives are at risk the most when they’re in a vehicle.
Laws are put in place to keep roadways and motorists safe, but when unforeseen events happen so do accidents. The No. 1 thing drivers and passengers can do to stay safe in the car is buckle up. But what about the littlest explorers of the open road? Of course, they should be buckled in an approved safety seat. However, many people forget to ensure the safety seat itself is properly secured.
According to AAA Auto Insurance, 75 percent of child safety seats are not installed correctly. In today’s competitive market, this opens a window for you to serve your customers. More operators are looking to enhance their customer experience by offering additional services. Bonus points if those services don’t cost a lot of time or money to implement. An option to consider is offering complimentary carseat installation and inspection.
While a customer is waiting on the hood technician, have another employee offer to check their child’s safety seat. If the carseat or booster isn’t secured correctly it’s important to take the time to fix it and show the customer what made it unsafe. They’ll appreciate the extra care and attention of your staff. In turn, you’ll instill customer loyalty, and if, heaven forbid, that vehicle is in an accident even its smallest passengers will stay safe.
Amie Durocher is the creative director for Safe Ride 4 Kids, a company comprised of a team of child passenger safety technicians with a passion for empowering parents to keep their children protected while driving. Durocher shared a few things you’ll need to do before offering carseat installation and inspection:
1. Designate who in your shop will be the primary child passenger safety technicians. Typically these individuals take the role of educator, not installer, so you’ll want to keep that in mind when choosing the employees who are best suited for the job. Choose someone who is especially good with people and explaining things. This way, they can educate the parents on how to install the seat themselves so that the parents have hands-on knowledge in case they have to move or reinstall the seat.
2. Sign up for a child passenger safety course.
To offer car seat installation you’ll need to make sure the individuals doing so are certified. This course will teach them what they need to know to properly install and inspect child safety seats. It will also give your customers the confidence in the professional skills of your shop if your operations are tight and the technician checking their seat knows and can explain what they’re doing.
Find courses online at: www.cert.safekids.org/become-tech. Training usually lasts three to four days and covers the different types of seats, stages of car seats and how to install various seats. Students will be required to complete hands-on assignments and an exam before being certified. To maintain their certification, child passenger safety technicians will need to complete hours of continuing education and have an instructor check their installations every two years.
3. Cross your t’s. Dot your i’s.
State laws for child restraints vary. Make sure you research your state’s laws so you can ensure you’re informed. Not only will you be able to protect yourself, you’ll also be able to share accurate information when your customers ask questions about age, height and seat requirements.
In addition to checking your state laws, it’s a good idea to be ready to document everything having to do with the safety seat checks you preform. Prepare some quick forms for the child passenger safety technician to fill out upon inspection. In the event the customer has an accident, you’ll want to have documentation.
4. Decide how you’ll get the word out.
A new complimentary service is only good if people know you’re offering it. A great way to get a positive buzz going in the community is to host a weekend car seat checkup event. Ask your local police officers and firefighters to participate in addition to other child passenger safety technicians in the community. Often these kinds of technicians are on a volunteer basis and will be happy to donate their time at checkup events.
Getting local news coverage to cover the event should be easy to do and will help spread the word and drive business to your quick lube.
Add-on services don’t have to require a lot of expensive equipment or adding something high-priced to the service menu in order to impact your bottom-line. The most important thing to remember in this industry is simple: remember the customer. Ask yourself, “What does the customer want? What will make the customer’s life better? What is most important to the customer?” Answering these questions may lead you to something simple like offering coffee in the waiting room or handing out biscuits to your four-legged patrons, or it may make you realize how valuable adding a convenience like carseat installation and inspection would be.
“Children often don’t properly fit into seat belts until around 10, sometimes 12,” Durocher said.
If your client demographic is young or growing families, checking more than a vehicle’s fluids and filters could keep your customers’ most precious passengers safe in the backseat. That’s something that goes beyond any benefits it will bring to your bottom line and car counts. When you serve the customer this way — and do so well — you’re making roads safer and potentially saving lives.