Gone But Not Forgotten: 5 Ways to Regain Lost Customers

Build a Pipeline of Return Buyers

They say it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

While this phrase may ring hollow to those who are recently or currently heartbroken, the underlying message has merit, and can even be applied to your approach regarding lost members of your customer base.

In the retail automotive industry, customer loyalty reigns supreme. With an effective customer retention management plan, you can build a pipeline of return buyers and all but assure your dealership’s continued profitability. After all, it’s estimated that 80 percent of a company’s future revenue will originate from its current core customers

But what about when you suffer a “breakup” with a valued customer? Regardless of whether that prospective car-buyer goes elsewhere for vehicle maintenance needs or opts to entrust a future vehicle purchase in another dealership, it’s bound to sting for you and your staff.

Still, all is not lost. It’s better to have reaped the benefits of customers’ patronage and lost them than to have never encountered those customers in the first place. The opportunity is there to reclaim their business —you just need to know how to seize it.

Sometimes you need to convert your customer retention strategy into customer search and rescue initiatives. Here are five ways to regain lost customers:

1. Determine Which Customers Are Lost

You can’t seek that which you don’t know. While this might seem obvious, the fact remains that many dealerships lack basic information regarding those past customers who have presumably taken their business elsewhere. With customer retention software such as that offered by Performance Administration, you can overcome this knowledge gap. The company’s Lost Opportunity Transformer™ product enables dealerships to easily determine which customers haven’t returned for service.

2. Adopt a More Customer-Centric Approach

Once you’ve confirmed your dealership is bleeding customers, it’s time to examine why. In many cases, this requires an honest look in the mirror. While there is a multitude of legitimate reasons a customer might leave (relocation, altered automotive needs, etc.), your self-evaluation should focus on your dealership’s overall relationship with your customer base. Do you connect with prospective car-buyers online before they visit your dealership? Is your buying process as simple and stress-free as possible? Does your dealership offer a vehicle maintenance plan with customized solutions that are attractive to customers? Enhance your customer experience and discerning car-buyers will take notice.

3. Focus on Your Top Lost Customers

When segments of your dealership’s customer base go M.I.A., it’s time to sharpen your focus. Utilizing your customer retention software, track longterm repurchase trends to determine your highest-grossing lost customers during the last decade. Then target these past car-buyers for a customer retention campaign featuring exciting new product offerings, F&I upgrade options, timely service reminders, and other marketing materials. Return your dealership to its rightful top-of-mind position amongst your former customers.

4. Think Beyond Product Offerings

Product quality has improved considerably across the board within the retail automotive industry. It’s now more difficult than ever to utilize your product offerings as a brand differentiator. Consequently, dealerships must think outside the box and seek alternative sources for achieving competitive advantages. Whether it’s offering a creative form of entertainment while customers await service completion or honoring competitors’ coupons, make your dealership stand out from the crowd, enticing lost customers to reconsider.

5. Practice Preventative Medicine with Complimentary Maintenance

A complimentary maintenance plan has nothing to do with selling the first vehicle and everything to do with building relationships with customers that sell the second and third vehicle. You may not be able to control your customers’ repurchase intentions, but you can certainly influence them. With a dealer-owned promotional maintenance plan from Performance Administration, you can drive customers back to your dealership for service, thereby improving your prospects for longterm customer retention. Keep your customers coming back and your “search and rescue mission” will no longer be necessary.