The Perfect Plan: Customizing and Branding Your Dealer Maintenance Program
A key part of any dealership customer retention strategy is to keep customers returning to the dealership for routine service visits. We know you don’t make money on oil changes, but these consistent service visitsare instrumental in the customer lifecycle journey because they provide several opportunities for customers to build trusting relationships with your service department staff. And service loyal relationships eventually lead customers to more expensive repairs, warranty work and the full-line of maintenance.And what happens when customers trust your dealership for the full-line of maintenance? They are more than twice as likely to return to your dealership for their next vehicle purchase AND refer your dealership to their friends and family.
Isn’t that your goal?That’s also the goal of a complimentary maintenance program.
All Maintenance Plans Are Not Created Equal
It’s important to note thatmanufacturer maintenance plans and dealer maintenance plans aren’t the same thing. In a nutshell, dealer maintenance plans are personalized and owned by your dealership and manufacturer maintenance plans are completely dictated by the manufacturer.
When it comes to a customer retention strategy, dealer maintenance plans are the way to go becausetheyprovide you the opportunity to give your customers more.
For instance, GM’s manufacturer maintenance plan offers customers two complimentaryvisits in the first 24 months of ownership. Any car dealership (as well as any car owner) knows that two visits aren’t enough to cover alloil changes in the first two years.
But if your dealership were to create your own complimentary dealer maintenance plan, you coulddouble the manufacturer’s maintenance offeringand give customersfour visits during the first 24 months of ownership. You can also throw in valuable extras such as complimentarycar washes and convenient, dealer-provided shuttle service to and from any location within a certain radius.
That’s the great thing about dealer maintenance plans, you have complete control tobuild your plan however you want to. It’s an opportunityto not only build customer retention into your sales process, but toshow customershow much you value them.
Not sure which plan is the best fit for your dealership? Download this PDF to compare the various types of maintenance plans available. If you already have a manufacturer maintenance plan in place, manufacturer wrap plans are a great way to add in those extrabenefits to give customers more.
Building Your Custom Dealer Maintenance Plan
When it comes to building your plan, we’ll work with you to create a plan using dealership best practices based on your vehicle inventoryand customerretention goals. It comes down to defining the answers to the following questions:
- How many months do you want your complimentary maintenance plan to last?(This is the promotional giveaway, typically 12 or 24 months.)
- How many times a year do you want to see your customers for service? (Think along the lines ofcreating aconsistent flow of service traffic.)
- Do you want to provide additional customer pay plans to sell in the F&I office?(This is agreat way to extend service contracts andguaranteeservicein the future.)
- Which maintenance benefitsdo you want to provide? (Example: lube, oil andfilter, tire rotations, car washes, shuttle service or add your own.)
- What do you want retail and reimbursements rates to be for each service?(This is how you determinehow much to getpaid for each service.)
- How do you want to fund your plan? (We have three funding options that arediscussed during the quoting process.)
- Do you want to include a loyalty points program? (This is a great way to continue service incentives after the complimentary plan expires.)
Pro Tip: Keep your target customer base in mind when building your plan. If you’re successful in providinga valuable offering, you’ll also be successful in standing outagainstyour competitors.
Set Yourself Apart Through Marketing
Once you’ve built yourpersonalized retention plan, the next step is to create a marketing strategy with customer communication materials to get the word out.
The first line of marketing is pre-purchase marketing, likeupdating your website, social media, print, radio and television ads to let visitors knowof thecomplimentary service benefits they’ll receivewhen they buy from your dealership.
Be sure to promote your maintenance plan on all exisiting advertising channels toremain consistent and top-of-mind.
The next step is point-of-sale marketing. Once you bring customers through the doors,it’s key that your salespeople educate the customer on “why buy here” benefits. As they get the customer into a test drive and explain all the wonderful features of the vehicle, they’ll be selling the car. But they also haveto sell your dealership.
Why should customerspurchase acar from you, rather than a competitor?
Make it clear why your dealership is the obvious choice. That’s where your complimentary maintenance program comes in. It’s important that as part of the pitch, your sales staff istrained to let customers knowhow yourdealership takes care of customers after thepurchase is complete.
- Tell them about the complimentary four maintenance visits in the first 24 months.
- Tell them about how the dealership will pick their car up for service or shuttle them to and from work or home if need be.
- Tell them that when their car is finished, it will be shiny and sparkling clean due to the free car wash that’s included with each service.
Luckily, Certified Maintenance® Plans each come equipped with POS marketing materials (Why Buy Here sales flyers and F&I Upgrade flyers) that are dealer-branded to show customers the benefits of purchasingat your dealership.
The customer may leave your dealership and head to a competitor for a test drive. But,your staff and service plans will have made enough of an impression on them that—at the end of the day—they’ll return to your dealership to make the final purchase.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just sell a car. Customer retention strongly relies on fostering relationships with customers after they drive off your lot. And that means driving them back for service and knowing which customers are and are NOT returning. We make that easy for you too with personalized customer welcome kits, timely service reminders and a win-back campaign to target non-return customers.
Watch the Road to Retention Video to learn how a Certified Maintenance® Program uses an automotive customer retention strategy to drive repeat buyers. Anddownload the Perfect Plan PDF to discover the best maintenance plan for your dealership.