Better Dealership Habits: Getting Buy-In On Customer Retention Campaigns

What’s in it for me?

Humans are selfish by nature. Self-interest is tied to everything we do, and we’re generally adverse to change unless it directly benefits us in some fashion.

Your auto dealership’s employees may seem to appreciate the clear link between offering dealer service contracts and achieving high customer retention rates. They may recognize that dealer-branded vehicle maintenance plans —like those offered by Performance Administration Corp.— have demonstrated the ability to increase customer retention and service revenue by more than 60 percent and 15 percent, respectively, according to a recent study.

Furthermore, your staff may even be fully aware that customer retention management represents the lifeblood of many businesses since it’s up to 10 times more expensive to acquire a new customer versus maintaining a current one. Or, put differently, research indicates that 80 percent of your company’s future revenue will come from just 20 percent of your existing customers.

Yet even with these telling statistics staring them in the face, your employees —ever motivated by personal interests —may be reluctant to accept the implementation of a dealer maintenance software that tracks sale-to-service success and, in turn, guides customer retention planning. After all, what’s in it for them?

Being intrinsically self-interested drives our decision-making, much to the chagrin of our managers. From this psychological standpoint, we obtain pets because they bring us pleasure (not because we’re inherently animal welfare advocates) and we aid a fellow motorist with a flat tire because it reduces our own feeling of distress (not because we’re naturally Good Samaritans).

Despite this widely-accepted viewpoint regarding human motives, though, convincing your employees to share your enthusiasm for major initiatives aimed at improving customer retention need not be a practice in futility. Here are five tips for getting buy-in from your staff on developing a customer retention campaign:

1. Emphasize Making Jobs Easier

Yes, there will be a learning curve for your staff to master a new automotive service software program. But a modest amount of training and extra effort on the front-end can result in a substantially more prosperous longterm outlook for your dealership. Once you can optimize your dealer maintenance plan, your employees’ working lives will become easier. Vehicle service needs will spawn lifetime customers, and the influx of return buyers will improve job security, as your staff no longer needs to generate as many new customers to make their numbers. Conveying this ease to your staff is bound to get their attention.

2. Encourage Employee Empowerment

Embrace what each staff member contributes to your team and make your employees feel appreciated. As the customer-facing segment of your dealership, your showroom employees are the experts and their input should be sought when implementing a new customer retention strategy involving dealer service contracts. And since Performance Administration‘s Dealer-Owned Maintenance™ program includes customizable coverage and reimbursement policies, there will be plenty of opportunities for your employees to weigh in and feel empowered as integral pieces of your dealership’s revamped customer retention process.

3. Offer Financial Motivation

Let’s not kid ourselves: At the end of the day, a paycheck represents the primary motive for why your staff shows up at your dealership each day. Call it another example of self-interest if you must, it’s simply a fact of life. But if improved customer retention is your company-wide goal, why not link salaries to this objective? Delay awarding sales commissions until a new-vehicle purchaser arrives for a first maintenance visit, and watch your staff get on board with your proposed sales-to-service plan for customer retention.

4. Honor Professional Achievement

People like to be recognized for their efforts. Whether it’s a trophy for winning a bowling league or a “major award” like the leg lamp within “A Christmas Story,” there’s a sense of accomplishment that arises when someone is praised in the presence of peers. After empowering your employees to assist with developing your service-driven customer retention plan, be sure to honor them —both individually and collectively —for their distinguished contributions. The employee and sales team with the most sales-to-service conversions during the first quarter following your launch both deserve to be recognized.

5. Educate the Masses

Your employees may claim to recognize the demonstrated value of dealer service contracts in fostering better employee retention…but do they really? Is it possible they’re simply nodding their heads in agreement without truly evaluating the merits of your employee retention endeavor? Rather than just reciting convenient statistics, offer more substantive proof for your staff. Furnish them with real-life case studies and details regarding a local dealership’s success story. An education in employee retention best practices may persuade them to embrace —rather than simply tolerate —the changes in-store at your dealership.