In the past, auto dealerships were primarily focused on spending time and money to reach out to new customers. Special sales, TV commercials, radio advertising, and snazzy magazine ads dominated the auto sales scene. While these might be effective ways to snag new customers, they’re also a more expensive long-term business strategy. The constant hunt to bring new people through the front door costs as much as 5 to 8 times more than marketing to existing customers.
That cost matters — especially when nearly 65% of any company’s business comes from that existing customer base. With this realization, many auto dealerships have started to shift their efforts from customer conquest to customer retention, searching for ways to make their current customers happy and bring them back through the doors.
The First Step? A Certified Maintenance Program
The best way to inspire customer loyalty and keep them returning is to give them something for free. For auto dealerships, this means a certified maintenance program on all newly purchased vehicles. A maintenance program that’s staffed by certified technicians and branded for the dealership not only makes customers feel valued — it also gives them a reason to return to the dealership. This gives the staff an opportunity to make the customer part of the family by demonstrating top-notch service.
As the certified maintenance program and warranty period ends, the chances are greater that customers will return for paid repairs, tires, and more importantly — to purchase their next vehicle. While a certified maintenance program requires an initial investment, it pays off when customers return for their second, third, and fourth vehicles, as well as refer friends and family members to the dealership for repairs and vehicle purchases.
Managing Customer Data
In order to make the program a true success, however, dealerships have to effectively manage customer data. Performance Administration Corp. software helps with that. This includes mailing out welcome packages to new customers that outline the benefits of their complimentary maintenance program, as well as follow up messages (to both customers and dealership staff) as reminders of upcoming appointments or maintenance that needs to be scheduled.
What if customers don’t return for complimentary maintenance? Without the proper tools, it would be easy for them to fall through the cracks of the dealership database and disappear forever.
With the Lost Opportunity Transformer, however, all of that changes. The specialized software crafts messages that are specifically targeted to each customer based on how long it’s been since their last appointment and tailored to spur them into action. The messages are designed to be gentle and non-harassing. Should customers not respond to reminder messages, their data is compiled into a list so that dealership staff can personally reach out and invite them back once more.
Utilizing Software to See Results
Because a complimentary maintenance program does involve a significant investment, owners of auto dealerships need to know that they're getting a good return on that investment. The best way to track the ROI of initiating a certified maintenance program is by using data compiled through the Vehicle Repurchase Report software. This software generates intuitive and easy-to-read reports that show the number of contracts secured on a yearly basis versus the number of customer visits that occurred.
Although the results take time to become noticeable after a customer retention strategy has been initiated, dealerships begin to note that over a period of years, the number of contracts steadily grows while generating an even larger number of dealership visits.
Instituting a certified maintenance program and focusing on recurring customers is a winning strategy, but it isn’t enough. By using software to track the data that’s generated, you’ll not only be able to follow up with lost customers — you’ll also be able to access concrete numbers showing that your program is a success.