When it comes to a disheveled desk or the amount of time we spend staring at our devices, less is more. But when it comes to incentives to our customers — those little perks that keep them happy, satisfied, and coming back — less is, well, less.
Yet in the auto industry, we see it happen time and time again. GM announced a reduced offering in Complimentary Maintenance incentives in 2015, and other manufacturers have followed suit and scaled back their coverages and warranties as well.
The most common reason given for these reductions is that Complimentary Maintenance Programs don't move the needle for consumers when they're deciding which new car to buy. Whether or not that's true is irrelevant. Complimentary Maintenance isn't about selling the first car, it's about building long-term relationships via service retention — and then selling the second and third cars.
Therefore, it's vital that we focus on the customer experience and follow through with every consumer. Complimentary Maintenance drives customers to return to your dealership. If you take away reasons for the customer to come back, you are sacrificing future value.
You're also sacrificing integrity, just to save money in the short-term.
But with Complimentary Maintenance Programs, you create a service pipeline that's consistently filled, delivering amazing customer experiences that keep people coming back, time and time again.
Here are three strategies to help improve long-term dealership profitability.
Service reminders play an important role in Complimentary Maintenance Programs because what customers really want is for you to eliminate worry from their lives altogether. When their car needs serviced, they want to be able to drop it off and not think twice about it.
Service reminders let the customer know your dealership is in control and they don't have to monitor routine maintenance visits.
It all revolves around the dealership experience; we're not just providing the maintenance, we're reminding the customer about it, and we're letting the customer select how they'd like to be reminded. We're reaching out to our customers in a non-invasive manner and providing them with important information and reasons why they should come back to our dealerships.
Another benefit of Complimentary Maintenance Programs is the ability to monitor the time on services being preformed. If your dealership is the home of the two-hour oil change, chances are customers aren't going to come back for service, whether it's free or not.
When it comes to oil changes, the amount of time between opening and closing a repair order should be 30 minutes or less. If your number is trending above 30 minutes, you need to take a long, hard look at your service department. Is it a capacity issue with shop bays? A talent issue with technicians? Are you always waiting on parts? Whatever the case may be, a Complimentary Maintenance Program will help you streamline your processes and make service quick and efficient.
Access to Better Data
Data is key. Being able to accurately measure customer retention can make all the difference in the world. To do this, you need to have the right software in place to track how many customers repurchased from your dealership.
Do you know which customers have defected or have not returned for service? And how much money is your Complimentary Maintenance Program bringing in each month? How about each year? You need to have process and measurements around all these aspects of customer retention.
Service plays a vital role in the customer retention process because it bridges the gap between purchase and repurchase. Watch this short overview video to learn how a great complimentary maintenance program gives EVERY customer a reason to return to the issuing dealership for service and vehicle repurchase.
Ready to discuss your customer retention strategy? Connect with a retention executive for dealership best practices.