|Bring Them Back (continued)
|SUPERIOR DEALER SOLUTIONSsm
As much as some people and businesses try to resist it, using new technology is quickly becoming a necessity for
any consumer-based business to satisfy their customers. Telephone calls are quickly being replaced by Web site
interfaces, e-mails, and text messages. If you’re not using these channels to connect with your customers, you’re
missing a big opportunity to gain new customers and may even be driving your current customers to your
competitors. One key to strong customer loyalty is to make it easy for your customers to do business with you,
whether through service reminders, appointment scheduling, or flexible communication methods.
customers coming back. Studies have shown that service reminders sent to consumers when maintenance is due
generate a 24% response rate. In addition, customers who respond will spend on average 23% more in customer
pay work. In other words, if you’re not currently using any kind of service reminder system, you are missing out on
a lot of business.
appointment directly on your Web site? If they call, do they have to wait on hold, or worse, talk to a machine
instead of a live person? If they can make an appointment on your Web site, how quickly do they get a response if
they get a response at all? Can they find your dealership address, phone number, and hours of operation quickly
and easily on your site? If it takes too long to find what they’re looking for or they can’t communicate with you in
their chosen method, they may quickly leave your site and visit your competitor’s instead, resulting in lost
customers that you never even had a chance to meet.
should be something like, “No way!” or “Are you kidding?” Unfortunately that is not the reality for most
dealerships. Instead, they are constantly fighting to keep their customers coming back to them for regular service
and for future vehicle purchases. Customer loyalty for dealerships is rarely as strong as you might see with
rivalries such as Coke vs. Pepsi, Bud vs. Miller, PC vs. Mac, etc*…but it can be.
mail or text message instead of a phone call? Even if the phone is the preferred method of
communication, your customers will be impressed when you give them the option, and you
will be showing all of your customers that you respect their time and have their best interests
Now consider your dealership’s image. It is very important that you don’t confuse your image of your dealership
with your customers’ image of your dealership. They may in fact be very different things. Be sure to look at your
dealership from your customers’ perspective. Although your image of your own dealership may be more accurate,
in reality it means nothing if your customers don’t perceive it the same way.
Your customers have already bought into your OEM’s image before they even come to your dealership.
Their expectation is that when they get to your dealership, they will get the true experience of that image. Any
deviation from it can easily be perceived as a negative to your customers…even if you perceive it as a positive.
For example, creating an ultra-comfortable customer lounge with cushy chairs and artistic paintings on the walls
may sound like a good idea, but it could actually turn customers off in a service department that works mostly with,
say, a rugged truck brand, where your average customer is not looking to be pampered. You need to give those
customers a more rugged experience, such as pictures on the walls of mud-covered trucks. Your reputation as a
dealership is largely built on how well you fit the brand image of your manufacturer, not just the level of service
you give your customers.
To see how your dealership is doing, do your homework on the overall brand messaging and target markets of
your OEM. Look at their commercials and their Web site. Then take a close look at how well your dealership and
Web site fit that image. Do you effectively reinforce the manufacturer’s messaging? Are you focusing your efforts
on reaching out to the right target market? If you answered ‘no’ to either of these questions, fixing your messaging
and branding should become a top priority.
intend to return to the dealership for future service. However, this figure increases to 73
percent among customers who say that their expectations were exceeded during a service
Loyalty goes both ways. The simple fact is if you’re not loyal to your customers, they’re unlikely to be loyal to you.
This means you must look out for their best interests with every visit. If you tell them when to pick up their vehicle,
make sure the vehicle is going to be ready at that time. If you get backed up and can’t meet that time, let the
customer know immediately so they can make other plans. Otherwise you will have a very upset customer arriving
to pick up a vehicle that’s not ready. You might as well just hand that customer directions to your competitor’s lot
because they probably won’t be coming back to you.
As part of the sales process, many dealerships now require the salesperson to walk the customer into the service
drive and personally introduce them to the service manager. This is a very important step in earning that customer’
s service business. If your customers don’t already have a connection with your service department before their
first oil change, your service department is just another service center to them, and you may have had your last
transaction with that customer.
To make it less forced, try walking the customer to the service drive to take delivery of their vehicle after the PDI.
This sets up a great opportunity for the introduction with the service manager and advisors. You could even arm
the service manager with free oil change coupons for each customer to ensure that you get them to come back
for their first service, giving you the opportunity to impress them and keep them coming back.
If your salespeople are resistant to adding this step to the sales process, incentives are easy to implement. If you
have the ability in your system, run a report that shows the percentage of customers who return for service,
sorted by salesperson. That report will enable you to offer incentives to your salespeople, based on their
individual retention levels.
Remember that customers who return for service are far more likely to buy future vehicles from you. This
means that every customer your salespeople can bring to the service department could turn into a lifetime of
service revenue and multiple future vehicle sales.
In recent years, we have seen a major shift in the relationships between retailers and consumers. Consumers are
more powerful, informed, and demanding than ever. Your dealership now has a critical window of opportunity to
strengthen your position in this changing marketplace. By aggressively adopting total CRM strategies, you can
position yourself as an indispensable resource serving the lifelong needs of car buyers. With a little work, the
right tools, and some creativity, you can earn the unbreakable and undying loyalty of your customers.
those golden opportunities to wow your customers from the second they arrive. Where do you start? Get out in
the service drive and talk to your customers at each step in the process. Get their opinions on how you’re doing
and what you could improve. Call customers that recently purchased a vehicle to get their thoughts. Once you
understand your customers’ point-of-view, you can shape your plan of action that will keep them coming back to
you every time.
If you’re looking for something quick, easy, and inexpensive to keep your customers coming back to your
dealership, the customer greeting should definitely be at the top of the list. It is possibly the single most
memorable part of the dealership experience. The greeting sets the tone for the entire visit, and even a great
overall dealership experience can be ruined in the customer’s mind from a bad greeting.
them? Do sales ups get attacked by your sales staff? Do your service customers have to look around or wait in
line to talk to a service advisor? Each and every customer that comes to your dealership must be made
comfortable the instant they walk on your lot or in your door. Just a few moments of waiting or feeling bothered
can send a customer packing.
will attack every customer as soon as they set foot on the lot. Many of your customers will automatically think of
the salesperson as the enemy, no matter what they do or how warm their smile is. You have to make the customer
feel welcome and acknowledged, not pressured, as well as let them know that the salesperson is there to help
them to buy a car…not to sell them a car. There are several innovative ways to get the most value out of every
dealership information (and ideally that salesperson’s name and contact information) on them. When a prospect
arrives on the lot, the salesperson can greet them with a smile and give them a pad and pen so they can take
notes about the vehicles as they look through the lot. This does four very powerful things for you:
• It makes it easier for your customers to record their questions, making them more likely to stay on the lot
until those questions are answered.
• It gives them a connection with the vehicles they take notes on, so those specific vehicles are still top of
mind, even if they leave your lot.
• If they do happen to leave your lot and visit your competitors, they may continue to take notes using
your pad and pen, so your dealership name will still be in front of them instead of being forgotten. With any
luck, those customers will come back to you when it’s time to make their final purchase.
their repeat business. Never let your advisors forget that your service customers are often on pretty tight
schedules, so greeting them as soon as they arrive is absolutely critical to keeping them satisfied and calm. Every
time an employee walks by and doesn’t acknowledge them, they may feel like they are not welcome in the
dealership, their time isn’t respected, and their business isn’t appreciated.
the customer if they greet them by name. As the customer is pulling up, the advisor can enter the license plate
number into your system to get the customer’s name. They can then welcome that customer back to the
dealership if they are in the system, or prepare to enter new customer information if they are not. This kind of
proper greeting is a great way to reinforce each customer’s relationship with your dealership.
During busy times when you have customers waiting in line in the service department, whether at the advisor’s
desk or cashier’s desk, be sure to designate someone to answer incoming phone calls. If the phone call is for an
advisor or cashier that is currently helping customers, tell the person on the phone that they are with a customer
and take a message. If an employee answers the phone instead of taking care of the people that are in front of
them, the customers in line will immediately feel disrespected and will think their business is less important than
the person on the phone. You can bet that those customers won’t be in a hurry to come back to your dealership.
problems. If a customer is slightly upset, you will probably hear about it, but the customers that are really angry
won’t say a word. They’ll just stop coming back.
for each customer he kept happy and coming back over the course of his or her driving life.
Independent quick oil change businesses are growing and expanding everywhere these days, and, as much as it
hurts to say it, they’re profitable. But you don’t have to take it lying down. Those are your profits they’re making,
and it’s time for you to take them back!
vehicles. Your customers know and believe that, but many of them go to the quick oil change shops anyway. Why
would they do that? Two reasons: convenience and price. Or to be more accurate, convenience and the
perception of price.
Most of the independent quick oil change businesses offer walk-in oil changes 7 days a week with little to no wait.
Picture a person that works from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday. When they need to get a quick oil
change on their vehicle, how convenient is your dealership for them? If you close at or near 5:00 PM on
weekdays and only have limited Saturday hours, you could offer free oil changes and you still wouldn’t get that
customer to come to you for an oil change. Try expanding your hours to match or exceed the flexibility of the
independent shops around you.
It is because they’re perceived to be cheaper. You know that $19.99 oil change advertised at the independent
quick service shop up the street? How many of their customers do you think actually pay only $19.99? There are
virtually always upcharges that raise the final price for them (i.e. synthetic oil, shop supplies, miscellaneous
charges, etc.), and their oil change may not include all of the services you offer (i.e. shuttle service, inspections,
car wash, etc.). That special low advertised price is just a way to get customers in the door.
sure your customers know it. If potential customers think they can get the same exact service at another shop for
a lower price, with more convenient hours, where’s their motivation to come to you instead?
In addition to providing great service, it is always a good idea to get creative. Find a way to stand out from your
competitors. For your service customers, try giving them extra services that they don’t get anywhere else. This
can be something as simple as vacuuming the interior of the vehicle, washing the exterior, shining the tires,
leaving them a printed vehicle report card, etc. You can even give each customer a customized air freshener
created with your logo on it. There is no limit to what you can do to stand out from your competition with a little
estimated to add anywhere from $40 to more than $300 per customer annually, averaged over a one to three-