All in the Family: When Car-Buying Spans Generations

How can your auto dealership capitalize on generational car-buying?

Sometimes it’s a family affair.

Much like political party affiliation and sports team fandom, car-buying preferences tend to get passed along generationally. Brand-loyal parents instill their vehicle make and model of choice within their offspring, and a cyclical buying experience ensues.

When it comes to the retail automotive industry, hereditary buying tendencies have indeed proven strong. A recent study found that a child is 39 percent more likely to select the same brand as his or her parents when compared with children whose parents did not choose that particular brand.

While this information is interesting —and says a lot about both parental influence and consumer purchasing habits —it begs the question: How can your auto dealership capitalize on generational car-buying? If a Honda devotee passes on brand preference like genes to children, how can you ensure that subsequent vehicle purchase occurs at your particular Honda dealership?

With effective customer retention planning, your dealership can leverage the “family effect” by encouraging repurchase intentions and creating generational return buyers. Blood, after all, is thicker than water.

Here’s our guide to achieving a family-centric approach to maximizing your dealership’s customer retention strategy:

Create a Family-Friendly Atmosphere

Car-buying should be a positive experience for the entire family. Your mission has not been accomplished until even children look forward to visiting your dealership. There are various methods you can utilize to establish a reputation as a family-friendly dealership:

  • Encourage the test-driving process to encompass the entire family.
  • Incorporate a play area for children within your showroom.
  • Offer complimentary refreshments to dealership visitors.

Emphasize Your Complimentary Maintenance Plan

Put simply, complimentary maintenance builds better, lasting customer relationships for your dealership. Consumers are creatures of habit. When you properly incentivize them to return to your dealership, they’ll come back time and time again —and bring their children with them.

A maintenance-included plan from Performance Administration drives customers back through your door, as your dealership becomes the single source for all their service needs. This level of service loyalty is crucial to achieving a lifetime customer.

Capitalize on Dealer Management Software

Customer-tracking capabilities have come a long way during the last several decades. Nowadays modern service management software enables your dealership to accomplish everything from measuring your customer retention rate to tracking service visits and repurchases.

A key component to leveraging the “family effect,” your dealership’s software should be utilized to monitor not only the service and repurchasing behaviors of your customers, but also to track their children’s milestones. With a proper system, you can achieve general awareness of when your customers’ offspring reach driving age and when they begin to build purchasing power.

Transition to the Next Generation

Ultimately, your dealership’s focus must shift. If your emphasis on offering complimentary maintenance plans and relying on service management software to stay top-of-mind with your customer base has proven successful, you’ve likely accumulated a collection of repeat buyers. But what about those customers’ children?

While data indicates you already have an upper hand at securing their business based on their parent’s loyalty, there’s no reason you should leave anything to chance. You’ve been cultivating these relationships for years by enabling them to enjoy the play area within your dealership, and now your dealer software has afforded you proper milestone information.

Personal care product companies have been sending shaving razors to 18-year-olds for years, attempting to build brand identity and induce longterm buying habits. Adopt a similar approach by targeting your customers’ children for “welcome kits” upon reaching driving age and, later, as they begin to increase their purchasing power.

With a family-centric approach that’s both consistent and persistent, your dealership can achieve a smooth transition from parent to offspring. A new generation of car-buyers is born, and your customer retention strategy has paid off.