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Arizona dealer charges up his battery sales: The best way to sell batteries is to show customers what's wrong

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Arizona dealer charges up his battery sales: The best way to sell batteries is to show customers what's wrong

Cold weather isn't the only enemy of car batteries. Extreme heat can just as effectively sap a battery's strength.

As we move into the summer months, it's important to make sure customers' batteries and starting systems are performing at full power.

In hot weather states like Arizona, batteries may only last up to two years due to consistently high temperatures, says Dave Bodnar, owner of Bodnar's Tire Pros, a single-location dealership in Anthem, Ariz., 20 miles outside of Phoenix.

That's why his techs check the batteries of every car that rolls into the dealership.

Each battery check starts with a detailed visual inspection, according to Bodnar. Customers get to see every step of the process. The best way to sell them is to show them, he reports.

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"We show them the condition of the terminals and cables; are they corroded? We show them how dirty the battery is. We also check belts for the alternator. "We show them exactly what's going on. The more they are informed, the more comfortable they'll feel."

If necessary, Bodnar's techs then clean the battery terminals since faulty connections can cause problems.

They also check each battery's age, despite the traditional "two-year shelf life." Some older batteries are still in circulation. For example, a customer recently drove into Bodnar's Tire Pros with battery problems. His car's battery was over four years old. It was promptly replaced.

When visual inspections and cleaning are finished, it's now time to hook up the testing machine.

Bodnar's Tire Pros uses a hand-held tester from Interstate Batteries. The device also tests how much power is being drawn out of the car's alternator under various conditions, including while the vehicle's air conditioning system is on. ("You need a decent battery to test the alternator.")

The tester generates a print-out with data presented in easy-to-understand bar graphs. Bodnar carefully goes over the results with customers.

At this point, he also gives them a pamphlet about batteries and alternators. The pamphlet contains "warning signs" that drivers should look for in the future.

He uses direct mail to remind customers that checks need to be done. "We have a little mailer in our community. I put an ad in it last August saying the average life of a car battery in Arizona is 22 months. I had people walking in and asking me to check their batteries. It puts the idea in their heads."

The idea has definitely taken hold. In short time, Bodnar's Tire Pros has gone from selling one battery a week to four or five batteries a week.

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Best Practices Tips: Looking for battery/alternator warning signs

Dave Bodnar, owner of Bodnar's Tire Pros in Anthem, Ariz., gives his customers a pamphlet about batteries and alternators that contains warning signs written in question form. They include:

* Has your battery outlived its warranty?

* Has the battery or alternator light recently come on in your vehicle?

* Has your vehicle been jumpstarted recently?

* Have your lights and/or stereo been left on?

* Do your lights dim when your air conditioning system is on?

* Has your vehicle recently experienced alternator problems?

These questions are simple but must be asked, according to Bodnar. The goal is to prevent on-the-road breakdowns.

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