Business was good, but over the years, Garrett started to notice that customers were purchasing vehicles and disappearing — not returning for maintenance or repairs.
“We were losing a lot to the tire stores,” he said. As the only new car dealership in a small town, Garrett knew that the key to boosting business wasn’t to search for new customers; it was convincing previous customers to come back for oil changes and new tires. Determined to bring those customers back, he contacted Performance Administration Corp. to see how they could help.
Enter the Certified Maintenance Program
Mark Krejci, President of Continental National (the F&I Development Company to Garrett Motors) introduced Garrett to the Certified Maintenance Program and it has been a hit with their internal and external customers. According to Garrett, they now have a process that brings all of their customers back for service after the sale.
“Our agency prides itself on improving the health of the entire dealership, not just F&I profits,” said Krejci.
The first step in retaining Garrett’s customer base was to set up a Complimentary Certified Maintenance Program. Performance Administration Corp’s signature software made this a snap for the Garrett team.
“When a customer buys a car, we set them up four months in advance for their first service appointment,” Garrett explained. “Four months later, the computer displays it as a pre-set appointment. We simply call the customer to confirm the appointment and they bring their vehicle in.”
Because General Motors offers one year of maintenance and Garrett Motors extends that by a year, every new customer drives away from Garrett Motors with two years of free maintenance. The dealership’s Certified Maintenance Program is customized and branded to make it their own, and the team goes the extra mile to make sure every customer feels appreciated.
“Customers really love the free maintenance because you get a free car wash at our dealership,” Garrett said. “They receive a free wash anytime they have any service done, whether it’s complimentary maintenance or not.”
Putting the Lost Opportunity Generator Into Action
What if a customer doesn’t return for their second or third complimentary maintenance appointment? Should that happen, Garrett puts the Lost Opportunity Transformer to work. It helps tailor communication to “lost” customers and encourages them to return.
With the Lost Opportunity Transformer in place, Garrett’s numbers have jumped. The dealership has retained hundreds of customers in the past year alone.
“We’re getting a lot of customers back,” he said. “If you look at our numbers now, we have very high service retention.”
Rick Knight, President of Performance Administration Corp., is pleased with the results that Garrett Motors is seeing.
“Jim uses our Complimentary Maintenance Program on every vehicle he delivers,” Knight said. “They also do a great job with our Lost Opportunity Transformer, winning back 30% of the customers that defect or forget that they have a program.”
Complimentary Maintenance: Just the First Step
According to Garrett, bringing a new customer back for free certified maintenance is just the first step in the overall customer retention strategy. Providing complimentary maintenance gets your customers in the habit of coming back to you for service and repairs over the long term, he says.
Because Garrett Motors sells lots of tires as well as cars, that helps boost their bottom line.
“Most customers are getting pretty close to tire-time in 24,000 miles,” Garrett said. “For us, tires are a big part of customer retention. If you can get them to come back to you for tires, they’ll continue returning.”
Many dealerships forgo a focus on maintenance, instead attempting to entice customers back in for new vehicles. Garrett doesn’t feel that this strategy is effective, having seen the benefits of customer retention through certified maintenance.
“We’ll never make money on oil changes — that’s true,” he said. “It’s not about that. It’s about getting that customer back in here. If you provide customer satisfaction and establish a good customer relationship, they’ll not only bring their vehicles to you, they’ll send their friends and family to you … and that’s a recipe for success.”