Is Everyone at Your Dealership on the Same Page?
It’s easy to think of car sales as a front-end operation. Customers walk though the door and salespeople work hard to convince them to drive away in a brand new car.
In fact, auto dealerships spend lots of money each year to encourage those customers to walk through the door in the first place. The average dealership spends at least $30,000 per month on advertising. With this in mind, the goal of every dealership should be making the most of those advertising dollars by working to retain every customer they manage to earn.
This means that the goal of every dealership employee should also be customer retention, but is it?
A Well-Oiled Machine Keeps Customers Coming Back
Customers will be pleased if they’ve purchased a vehicle that suits them. However, your team should be working to sell each customer more than just a vehicle. Together, you’re working to sell the entire customer service experience that your dealership provides —one that begins on day one of a purchase.
Your dealership must work like a well-oiled machine with the goal of delighting customers and making them feel so valued that they only trust your dealership to handle maintenance items, repair issues, and eventually, to sell them their next vehicle. Why should you spend additional money chasing new customers when you have a captive audience in the customer base you’ve worked so hard to build?
It All Starts With Employee Training
From the first day a potential hire walks into your dealership, you have to be clear about your overall mission, vision, and values. Choosing personalities that fit with that mission and vision are key. Certain people are naturally good at making customers feel special by remembering specifics about their wants and needs. Excellent dealership employees work hard to treat each customer as an individual, rather than a problem to be solved before moving on to the next customer/problem.
Beyond choosing the best people, it’s up to you to provide the proper training to help arm them to achieve success.
It’s important for a dealership to provide complimentary dealer maintenance programs that cover initial oil changes and maintenance items that will need to be done. When a customer visits for a maintenance appointment such as an oil change, advisors should provide professional, friendly service and get them in and out within 30 minutes. Should a customer drop in unannounced because something has suddenly gone wrong with their vehicle, your service department must make that customer feel appreciated —even if an immediate fix to their problem isn’t possible.
An excellent dealer maintenance plan is of no use if the customer doesn’t know about it or isn’t inclined to take advantage of it, though. That’s why customer retention starts well before that first service visit.
Salespeople must also be on board with the customer retention mission. They have to fully understand that it’s easier to bring back a longtime customer than it is to battle it out in the market for new customers.
From the Front to the Back End
Before a salesperson hands over the keys to a new vehicle, they must be trained to personally walk the customer to the service department and hand them off to their service advisor. The service advisor will familiarize them with the fantastic complementary service program that comes with their new car. The goal is to keep that customer coming back during the complimentary maintenance as well as for any repairs that extend beyond the maintenance/warranty period, in hopes that when it’s time for a new vehicle, they’ll purchase from you.
It’s key that all employees be trained in working towards customer retention, from the salespeople on the front end of a dealership to the people in the finance and parts departments. This will ensure that no matter who a customer interacts with, their experience will be consistent—and one that’s likely to keep them coming back to do business with your team for many years in the future.