7 Basic Techniques to Increase Customer Loyalty

Establish Exclusive, Lasting Relationships that Achieve Revenue Growth

In the early stages of dating, it’s rarely safe to assume exclusivity. Singletons survey the dating market, keeping their romantic options open until someone deserving of their undivided affection comes along.

A similarly selective approach is reflected in the modern customer landscape. Empowered by the vast amont of company-related information available on the Web, and by having competing alternatives lingering just a click away, today’s consumers are reluctant to align their support with any one brand.

Still, customer loyalty remains integral to achieving revenue growth within the retail automotive industry. The permanent marriage of a customer to your auto dealership pays recurring dividends, as research shows loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase.

Even in this era of casual courtship, a dealership can establish an exclusive, lasting relationship with its customer base. An effective customer loyalty strategy prompts a consumer pledge of allegiance that easily trumps any limited-time discount or gimmick a competitor can offer.

The following are seven basic techniques to increase customer loyalty:

1. Make the Experience Enjoyable

Consumers shouldn’t liken the car-buying experience to mundane big-ticket purchases like a home furnace or a wash machine, nor should they have to dread price haggling. The excitement associated with obtaining a vehicle should start in the showroom. Encourage your customers to enjoy the selection process, eliminate pressure and enlighten them regarding technology-driven features that may not have been available during their last car-buying go-around. Make the experience enjoyable and you have a return buyer in the making.

2. Prioritize Relationship-Building

A rock-solid relationship can weather any storm. Rather than “renting” an auto customer for short-term monthly payments, seek something bigger and longer-lasting. Customer retention planning starts with a positive buying experience and continues with a Dealer-Owned Maintenance™ package from Performance Administration Corp. that incentivizes customers to return to your dealership for routine maintenance and, ultimately, their next vehicle purchase. This level of relationship development renders competing offers insignificant, and can even result in a referral pipeline since true loyalty knows no bounds.

3. Practice the Virtue of Patience

For many consumers, purchasing a vehicle represents the second-most important investment they’ll ever make. Not surprisingly, indecisiveness often rules the day. Demonstrate a patience threshold exceeding the industry norm by affording your customers unlimited test drives and extending limited-time offers. Strike a perfect balance between valuing a customer’s business and respecting his or her personal decision-making process, and you may have a loyal customer for life.

4. Be Open to Recommending Competitors

Counterintuitive though it may seem, don’t rule out the possibility of recommending a prospective customer look elsewhere, especially when that elsewhere is another dealership franchised by the same auto manufacturer. Retention strategies can originate from unlikely sources, and sometimes another dealership is simply better-suited to accommodate a unique sale or service request. When you’re open to recommending a competitor, your customer will begin interpreting your role as a trusted advisor rather than a revenue-driven salesperson, and your longterm relationship will benefit.

5. Offer Convenience

Time is a precious commodity, and many customers value convenience above most other factors, including price. Position your dealership as the convenient choice and your customer’s loyalty will flourish. Performance Administration‘s customizable complimentary maintenance programs transform your dealership into a one-stop-shop, capable of mastering your customer base’s sales and services needs. The offering of overnight test driving and loaner vehicles will also perpetuate your dealership’s convenience-friendly reputation.

6. Listen to Your Customers

In the classic movie “Fargo,” crooked car salesman Jerry Lundegaard deceives his customers into paying for unwanted add-on products. In one memorable scene, his furious customer exclaims, “You’re sittin’ here, you’re talkin’ in circles! You’re talkin’ like we didn’t go over this already!” While you’re the expert (and an honest one at that), take the time to listen to what your customers have to say —and be willing to adapt based on their feedback. When your customers believe you’re being attentive, then loyalty will ensue.

7. Demonstrate Shared Values

Consumers gravitate towards those companies they perceive to have values aligning with their own. A Harvard Business Review study found that 64 percent of consumers cited shared values as the primary reason for establishing a relationship with a brand. Develop values your customer base will find admirable —environmentally-friendly practices, corporate social responsibility and proper work-life balance for your employees —and loyal consumers will take notice.