A Tale of Two Batteries

It’s cold — really cold — 14 F cold, and the freezing temps are compounded by the wind whipping past the self-storage buildings where I’ve been working for the past 20 minutes. I’m looking forward to hopping in my 2004 Tundra and cranking up the heat. Finally my work is done.

As I turn the key, I hear “click, click, click.” I try again — “click, click, click” — dead battery. No warning; none of the slow starts that I’ve experienced in the past; it’s just immediately dead. Luckily, I have two tools to get me going again — my cell phone and my AAA card for road service. That’s the good news. The bad news is, I must wait an hour in the freezing cold before being rescued. Finally road service arrives, and the technician tests my battery to prove it is dead. Then, he gives me the option of jump-starting or he just happens to have the correct replacement battery on his truck. I did not even ask the price. Just replace it!

I found out this is now a common occurrence with batteries — no previous signs of power loss; they are just dead without any warning. That is, unless you are as fortunate as my business partner.

Ron bought a Hyundai Azera with just over 30,000 miles on it. Just to be safe, he decided to have his oil changed and was lucky enough to choose a shop that provides a complete free inspection during the change. After sitting in the comfortable, warm waiting room for a few minutes, the technician came out with a battery analysis printed out that showed his battery was near death. Was Ron ever thankful that he brought his car to a professional! His reaction was the same as mine — do it!

Fortunately for Ron, this shop’s owners know their customers deserve a complete, and not cursory, inspection on every vehicle. Apparently, the owners of this shop know a lot:

  • They know the value of investing in the battery tester with printing capability to present the customer with a documented condition of the battery. Using the right tester, it only takes a minute or so to perform the complete analysis!
  • They know by testing each and every battery that comes though the shop, they keep their customers apprised of their conditions — whether good or bad. Knowing the battery is good provides peace of mind; knowing it is bad is a call to action for the consumer.
  • They know by stocking about 18 or 20 part numbers, they will be able to immediately service about 90 percent of their customers’ vehicles in most areas of the country. Since surveys have shown that 12 to 15 percent of vehicles require battery replacement, that inventory turns at a very nice rate.

I have learned a lot about batteries since then. Most importantly, I learned one of the most important decisions a shop makes regarding battery replacement is partnering with the right supplier — a supplier who will set up the correct inventory and advise of the proper stocking location (such as storing batteries out of direct sun). It is essential a supplier stocks your new batteries and picks up cores on a regular basis. A supplier must take care of stock rotation, because a battery that has been sitting for seven to nine months in inventory needs to be replaced.

In the past, battery testing was not as critical because drivers usually experienced a slow degradation of battery power, often indicated by the starter turning slowly on start-up. Then power drain was basically limited to starters, lighting and cassette players. Now, with so many automotive electrical controls and huge power demands, there are very few warnings. Many find this out as I did — stranded outside in the freezing cold, instead of being informed of the battery’s condition while relaxing in a nice, warm waiting room.

One Mighty sales rep summed up the opportunity to sell batteries this way, “The first person to tell a customer they need a battery has the best odds of selling a battery.”

Could that person be you?

Tim Craig

Tim Craig, a 40-year veteran of the automotive aftermarket, is a special consultant to Mighty and a partner in R/T Marketing. Tim can be reached at: timcraig@comcast.net