In Part 1 of this series, we talked about common pitfalls that auto dealerships experience when it comes to customer retention — including failing to revamp old habits that are not getting results and not creating an effective program to follow up with customers once they drive off in a new vehicle. In a nutshell, failing to adapt and create a service-based lead generation strategy.
For an auto dealership, the crux of an effective customer retention strategy is service-based lead generation built off of your complimentary maintenance program. Here’s how to make the best use of that and prevent lost customers from falling through the cracks.
4 Steps to an Effective Service-Based Lead Generation Strategy
1. Master the 2nd Turnover – Introduce everyone to Service
Service-based lead generation is exactly what it sounds like: building a solid base of leads that will become loyal customers based on their experience in your service department. As such, it’s essential that customers are made aware of your complimentary service program from day one, with sales staff instructed to walk new car customers back to meet their service advisor. When that customer does return for service, well-trained service advisors should make it their goal to go above and beyond to offer an experience that will ensure that the next time the customer needs an oil change, new tires, or a new vehicle, your dealership is the first and only place that will come to mind.
2. Communicate According to Customer Preference
Just as customers have different needs in terms of automobiles, they also have different preferences when it comes to marketing and service reminders. When you send out your physical or email welcome kit, be sure to give each customer the option to be reminded of service appointments either via mail, email, or text.
Just because requests to be contacted via email or text are on the upswing doesn’t mean you should abandon direct mail altogether. In fact, a 2015 neuroscience study showed that direct mail motivation response is 20% higher than digital media. However, if someone travels a lot or doesn’t check their snail mail often, they may be more likely to see a text or email — which is why it’s important to let customers decide how they’d like to be contacted.
3. Connecting with Customers Online
The move into an increasingly digital age doesn’t mean relegating all customer communication to auto-generated responses from a computer system; in fact, it’s easy to incorporate the human touch into digital communication with your customers. Blogs and social media posts are an excellent way to use digital media to bring your customers up close and personal with your dealership. They’re an effective tool to connect directly with your target audience in order to educate them about necessary car maintenance and repairs, let them know about upcoming promotions, or even introduce them to dealership staff in order to create a familiarity when customers step through your door. In fact, a 2018 study found that companies that make blogging a priority are 13 times more likely to get a positive ROI from their efforts.
4. Creating Accountability
How well are those blog articles, social media posts, emails, and mailers working? Do you have a way to track your customer retention numbers as well as your efforts to win back customers who have drifted away?
The need to keep close tabs on these numbers is why Performance Administration Corp. sends its clients weekly personalized service reports that keep track of the following activity over the previous seven days:
- How many service drive plans were sold?
- How many customers defected and fell into lost opportunity status?
- How many people were won back by making phone calls?
- How much did the dealership payout on the win-back customers?
- How many repair orders were written and for what amount?
- How many contacts did each online user make?
Each service manager, general manager, or dealership owner can sign up to receive this weekly service activity report, giving insight into customer retention numbers and creating accountability for dealership staff.
Designing an effective service-based lead program doesn’t happen overnight; it requires retooling current systems and breaking old habits. Once you expand your focus to truly take your current customers into consideration, however, you’ll begin to slow the revolving door of customer churn and really grow your bottom line.