There is nothing like the high that comes with buying a brand-new car. Nothing compares to the purrs of a yet unused engine, nor the sheen of a fresh coat of paint, still unblemished by dust and dirt. Some wait their entire lives, saving little by little for that often dreamed about moment when their shiny new key first turns in the ignition.

There is a lot to love about getting a new car, and yet there is much to be said about maintaining one. Dealing with after-sales services is an important part of car ownership as it can make all the difference to a vehicle’s longevity. With an increasing number of people getting their own cars, the pressure is on local dealerships to provide a spectrum of services to address the needs of their growing list of clients.

Brands like Suzuki Philippines are taking initiative. With the brand’s Free Check-Up Service Campaign, which was launched in January 2014, Suzuki has provided motorists all over the Philippines with free check-up services to keep their vehicles in tip-top shape. The Japanese automotive brand has offered its free, 15-point comprehensive checkup in a number of locations nationwide and at an extended period.

“Suzuki Philippines has been going around its different dealerships one province at a time since 2014 to bring its after-sales service to its loyal patrons and new customers with a two-day free comprehensive checkup held at each participating area,” the company said on its Web site.

“The vehicles go through four different service bays where the general condition, under chassis, and under the hood of the cars are examined by highly qualified pool of technicians.”

Bermaz Auto Philippines, the distributor of Mazda vehicles and spare parts in Malaysia and the Philippines, has been investing heavily in the improvement of its aftersales program as well. The Mazda Apprenticeship Program aims to produce graduates who meet Mazda Corporation’s global certification standards.

The program, which is sanctioned by the Department of Skill Development (Malaysia’s version of TESDA), Institute of Motor Industry of the United Kingdom and Mazda Corporation Japan, also gives graduates the required training that would help with customer engagement. Apprentices are assessed according to their natural mechanical aptitude, and are made to experience a two-year work-process approach and actual work conditions to gain insights into how they would perform in the real world.

This program ensures that the Bermaz’s skilled technicians not only know the technical workings of vehicle repair and maintenance but are also knowledgeable of the best practices to apply to Mazda dealerships in the Philippines, leading to shorter repair times and an overall improvement in the customer experience. The company also revealed plans to construct a training center in Laguna to improve the after-sales services across its dealer network.

Toyota Motor Philippines, meanwhile, has introduced its Express Maintenance service to gain an edge in customer satisfaction. Express Maintenance Service is a periodic maintenance service made faster, guaranteeing just one-hour service from reception to vehicle release.

“At Toyota, we believe that you should spend more time doing things you love than waiting long hours for car service. That’s why we created the Toyota Express Maintenance Service (EM), the first and only one hour complete Periodic Maintenance Service (PM) available in all Toyota Dealerships nationwide,” Toyota said on its Web site.

Through the service, Toyota dealers will reserve a service bay and prepare parts needed for the Express Maintenance Service in advance. In addition, three Toyota-certified technicians will work simultaneously on the car using state-of-the-art tools and equipment to guarantee quality service. The Toyota Express Maintenance is priced the same as the regular Periodic Maintenance Service, at no additional cost to the car owner. The faster rate of job completion will allow Toyota to maximize its workshops and receive more vehicles.

Brands like Honda, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai are also stepping up their game. In the JD Power 2017 Philippine Customer Service Index, the three companies were among the highest-rated mass-market car brands in the country in terms of overall service satisfaction.

The global market research company JD Power conducts the annual Customer Service Index (CSI) Study to rate auto brands in the country according to customer service. The index rates the automobile brands’ after-sales services according to five factors, including service quality, vehicle pickup, service facility, and service advisor.

The best car brands realize that designing and manufacturing efficient and powerful vehicles play only one part in keeping their clients happy and loyal. With more and more Filipinos purchasing new cars, the key to keeping ahead of the game depends on the quality of service — before, during and after the purchase. To gain an edge over the increasingly competitive market, companies need to make customers feel satisfied with their chosen vehicles well beyond the point of sale. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran