How to Build an Automotive Customer Loyalty Program

4Stepsto Developing Return Buyers

Where do their loyalties actually lie? Dealership managers have pondered this question as it pertains to the various facets of their customer base. While some automotive companies have succeeded at establishing a strong customer allegiance, brand and dealership loyalty can appear fleeting in the face of an ever-changing retail automotive landscape.

Conventional wisdom says that a steady base of customers represents an essential ingredient, a driving force behind both dealership profitability and sustainability.

Achieving automotive customer loyalty not only ushers car-buyers back to your dealership for service and subsequent vehicle purchases, but it also provides a security blanket for maintaining longterm cash flow.

Sales departments work tirelessly to convert prospects into car-buying customers, yet dealerships’ efforts with the next part of the customer process —that of building longterm relationships and cultivating loyalty —often fall short. Brand and dealership differentiation, after all, can prove difficult to achieve nowadays, as consumers are increasingly inundated with automotive advertisements and online noise regarding your competitors.

Still, research indicates that consumers do, in fact, have the propensity to participate in customer loyalty programs. By some estimates, American households hold memberships on average in approximately 30 loyalty programs —statistic dealerships can capitalize on should they succeed at translating this consumer trend to the automotive industry.

Here’s Performance Administration‘s four-step process for leveraging Complimentary Maintenance to construct an automotive customer loyalty program at your dealership:

1. The Giveaway

When it comes to achieving loyal customer relationships, you need to crawl before you can walk. Your automotive customer loyalty program starts with rewarding vehicle purchasers with the gift of Complimentary Maintenance, fostering service utilization at the issuing dealership. Service plays a critical role in the retention process because customers who seek service from your dealership are twice as likely to repurchase from you.

By affording your car-buying customers the benefit of 12-Months of Complimentary Maintenance starting upon vehicle delivery, you’re planting a seed for growing long-term loyalty. Many consumers are habitual by nature and will continue to trust your dealership for their service needs after their Complimentary Maintenance perks expire.

2. Up-Sell Opportunities

Offering a Complimentary Maintenance plan to vehicle purchasers positions your dealership for low-risk, high-reward up-sell opportunities. In the ideal scenario, you can bolster customer loyalty and revenue generation simultaneously with a strategy that addresses both objectives.

Pair your Complimentary Maintenance plan with an optional F&I up-sell initiative that can be purchased by car-buying customers. An automotive customer loyalty program boasting this up-sell possibility enables customers to receive additional savings, while extending their maintenance coverage at your dealership beyond 12 months. When customers purchase a vehicle, they’re often inclined to take measures to protect that investment for the long haul.

3. Loyalty Incentives

As your dealership’s relationship with a particular car-buyer begins to blossom beyond that initial transaction, your goal remains continual customer engagement. Don’t give that valued customer any semblance of a reason to consider going anywhere else to fulfill automotive needs.

Your automotive customer loyalty program should work in conjunction with your Complimentary Maintenance offering to further incentivize long-term retention. Customers earn points for every dollar they spend in service, keeping them engaged and active even after their Complimentary Maintenance plan expires. You determine how many points must be accumulated for loyalty account activation, as well as how many points are necessary to receive service discounts and exclusive offers on future vehicle purchases.

4. Customer Retention

Ultimately, an effective automotive customer loyalty program drives return buyers back to your dealership for their next vehicle purchase. It’s estimated that 72 percent of car-buyers capitalizing on a Complimentary Maintenance plan repurchase the same vehicle make. You’ve won their business outright, as these customers feel confident that an extensive search process isn’t necessary when it comes time to make another vehicle transaction.

While some skeptics will continue to contend that brand loyalty isn’t what it used to be, your automotive customer loyalty plan will help you enjoy the devoted allegiance of your best customers. Where do their loyalties lie? With your dealership, of course.