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Strong relationships are similar to spider webs, especially in the auto industry. Multiple threads are must to build an effective web for business – or spiders. If you want to build long-term success in car sales, you have to recognize that these relationships start with one tiny thread, and by creating additional threads through rapport and nurturing with quality customer care, additional threads and then loyalty can follow.
Loyalty is a fickle mistress in the modern era. No longer do buyers automatically return again and again to purchase their cars like the Buick and Lincoln buyers of old because that is part of their identity. Today’s buyers tie their identity more to a class of car, rather than a particular brand, and their connection to their dealer is even weaker. But as long as I have been around motor vehicles, the dealers that work the hardest to strengthen that bond stand the greatest chance to retain their customers.
The key is to make the most of the first thread. A relationship typically begins one of five ways:
Each contact with a customer is a chance to make or break a thread. Whether each contact is through sales, service, parts or the BDC, it is an opportunity for a new thread to be created. Successful dealers ensure their staff is trained to treat each interaction as an opportunity to help or hurt future business. Even the best dealers end up breaking a thread once in a while, so building webs with new customers is a must, and in this day of online reviews, how you treat someone who DOES NOT end up buying can affect your business as much as someone who did. Just like a spider’s web, sometimes forces beyond our control can break those bonds, from a vehicle breakdown to someone moving out of the area, so you have to continue the web-building process.
Even though the internet can create more stress by transforming the buying process and allowing online reviews, it can benefit the dealership’s web-building through both social media and email campaigns. Carefully executed, both these communication methods can be a key part of a dealer’s ability to strengthen and create new threads to connect the customer to the store. Additionally, during and after the buying process, website live chat link on a dealership website is a valuable tool (especially after hours) to see to a customer’s needs with a real-time response to a sales, service or parts inquiry.
Faux spiders and goblins adorn our neighborhoods for Halloween, but dealers who view every client interaction as a chance to strengthen the web of their relationship, can increase sales throughout the year.
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Tom has an MBA in Marketing and is an automotive writer and author with more than 15 years experience in virtually every aspect of the retail auto industry. He began working with the internet building websites at Johns Hopkins University in the 90's, and has been an performance leader in nearly every dealer role, from sales and service, to web development and viral marketing.