Automotive Digital Marketing

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There are many ways to build trust with a potential customer and gain loyalty, especially when working with that customer for the first time.

 

One such bold suggestion was recently posed by Jim Kristoff on dealerELITE. Kristoff suggests going through the process of appraising a customer’s trade-in through Kelley Blue Book together, so that there is agreement on vehicle condition, the customer doesn’t miss certain model specifics about their vehicle, and the price is set and agreed upon without hassle.

“What better way for your management team to build rapport and trust with your customer, than to let the customer be a part of the trade appraisal?”

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Another often overlooked way to build customer loyalty is availability of accessories. The 2011 Automotive Accessory Market Report found that accessory availability was important in selecting a dealer by 23% of all buyers. Consumers can be frustrated if the accessories they want aren’t there, and, as reported by Insignia Group, being able to select accessories can be a large part of instilling ownership in a customer even before financial paperwork is signed.

 

Insignia Group also suggested offering a complimentary maintenance schedule with the purchase of a vehicle, as customers who regular use the Parts and Service departments at their dealership are more likely to purchase their next vehicle from the same location.

 

Since service retention is so important for overall customer loyalty, adding any ease of use for a customer’s service needs can be helpful, like mobile SMS text messages to remind them of their upcoming oil change. Mobile messaging can also provide specials, news, and even just simple reminders of why the customer is appreciated by the dealership, and in the mode of communication many consumers prefer.

 

Finally, a great way to build and maintain customer loyalty is to provide a Customer Loyalty Program. You can offers customers something they want, such as a free oil change after the first three, or a way to earn points toward so much off their next vehicle purchase, which offers incentive to keep the customer going back to the dealership and build on the program.

 

Read more about Customer Loyalty Program success here.

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Tags: customer, loyalty, service, tips

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Comment by Philip Zelinger on September 29, 2011 at 6:40am

Ooops -- I guess I was timed out before I apologized if my reply seemed like a sales pitch.  My true intentions were/are to practice what I preach by sharing best practices with my friends on ADM as I discover them. 

 

I look forward to sharing more infomation on DrivingLoyalty as wel as some of the integrated solutions that are being discussed with IntellaCar, DealerApp and others TBD during the 11th Digital Dealer Conference in Vegas next week.  If you are attending be sure to visit me at the VIP Dealer Lounge, The IntellaCar booth and/or at SiSTeR Technologies party on Thursday evening after 8 PM at The Presidential Suite co-hosted by IntellaCar and Johnnie Walker Blue. 

 

After all, what are friends, ADM and the Digital Dealer Conference for!

Comment by Philip Zelinger on September 29, 2011 at 6:31am

Customer loyalty is an interesting phrase.  It assumes that the dealer has a relationship with the customer that suggests that they will choose that dealer over any other well after the excitement of the sale wears off. 

 

That kind of relationship must be earned before, during and after the sale.  Relationships are a very personal thing that require constant attention.  Consumers are being approached by similarly well meaning auto dealers at every turn who will covet their business and entice them with better prices, services and frankly even lie -- seriously, some will actually lie -- to steal their business.  Of course that kind of proposal is for a one night stand and for just one sale to keep the short sighted dealer's doors open a few extra months, but it will make it awkward for your now ex-customer to return to your dealership and the loyalty earned by your more honest efforts will be forever missed by all.

 

The solution lies not only in the various best practices needed to provide a consumer centric experience in sales and service on your virtual and real showroom but in your honest concern for your customer as reflected in the way you treat them when they don't have their checkbook in hand.  Ongoing communication with your customers providing them relevant information about their vehicle such as recall notices, vehicle upgrade opportunities, market trends that may impact their investment and similar notices to keep the relationship alive without any self serving sales message will evidence your honest concern for their best interests. 

 

Trying to time your communications to when you think they may need service or a new vehicle without any ongoing investment in serving their best interests will suggest that you only care when/if their is something in it for you vs. maintaining a valued relationship. LIke I said, customer loyalty must be earned before, durng and after the sale!

 

Of course I would be remisce if I didn't reference a solution to the now stated problem to earn and maintain customer loyalty since, after all, what are friends ... and ADM ... for!   I have a vested interest in a vendor partner of my company, Ad Agency Online, that has matured their platform from a very comprehensive data based marketing platform introduced as Bull Dog Marketing Technologies to an even more holistic consumer alert solution being introduced at The 11th Digital Dealer Conference under their new and improved and more descriptive title of Driving Loyalty.  Suffice it to say that they have nailed the concept of keeping in touch with your customers in a non-intrusive manner with the opportunity to continue to earn their business in sales and service when they are ready vs. when you are. 

 

Contacts via email, direct mail and SMS messaging are all automatically delivered by a consumer centric third party -- Consumer Connect -- supported by a personal customer website dedicated to their individual needs.  Of course you and your staff are kept in the loop, however their focus can remain on the new friends walking into your dealership or visiting your virtual showroom and/or service departments. 

 

Integrated mobile solutions provided by other vendor partners of mine are also planned to compliment the DrivingLoyalty platform with even more direct commuincations and added value products and services all designed to benefit the customer while empowering the sales consultant to keep the relationship relevant and alive.  These consumer centric mesages are also constantly being delivered by coordinated POP displays in sales and service and a number of other digital and conventional marketing methods and media.

 

I would continue but I don't want to convert my reply to this admittedly well time post on Customer Loyalty to a sales p

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