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We've talked for years in automotive retail about “The Road to the Sale”, and I’m clearly one of the many supporters of that path to sales success.   However, too many of us are still on "The Road Less Profited".  Why?  Because we are not getting more sales (and profits!) from "The Road to Retention”!

Retention sales link the positives of variable and fixed operations together, and their teaming allows each part of the dealership to amplify the other.  Unfortunately, even in 2012, we don’t see that profitable interaction very often, and in fact it seems programs and efforts at retention—which will gain a lot more money for the dealership in both operation and by advertising—don’t get much attention.  Or action for sales.

And that is a huge, profit-abandoning, mistake

And the “how” is not complicated.  For sales and service, here’s The Road to Retention:

  1. Capture the newly-sold units into service with service walks and with discounted first-service and detail offers, etc. in a programmed, post-sale fixed ops monthly marketing effort.
  2. Mine your existing owner base for the locals that still don’t visit for service, and send them service and detail offers in a programmed, post-sale fixed ops monthly outbound marketing effort.
  3. Mine your sold-to-service owner base for flips from service to sales, both during appropriately-timed and/or large-service visits and also by making service-loyalty-prompted outbound equity calls and email/direct mail efforts.
  4. Mine your service-only customers for flips from service to sales, both during appropriately-timed and/or large-service visits and also by making service-loyalty-prompted outbound equity calls and email/direct mail efforts.
  5. Offer notable and marketable customer-facing “ease of use” features for your service drive, to include “loyal customer” loaners/rides, a great service drive and waiting room experience (and market to them there, too), easy mobile and online appointment scheduling, valuable email service reminders with offers (and body shop reminders/offers), timely opt-in text repair status, etc.
  6. Perform equity calls to all owner-base customers every month, and email/direct mail the local owners in good equity position, as well.  If they are not ready for a purchase, invite them into service with a good incentive.
  7. Concentrate on the fixed-ops up-sell AND CSI!  They go hand-in-hand, generating good repeat customers.
  8. Provide great sales and service, and focus on capturing customer reviews to support your position.  And ADVERTISE your great reviews to all your potential and existing customers.  Online and offline.
  9. Organize and measure all this with the best DMS, CRM, and 3rd-Party tools you can get.  And use them all!  If you can’t keep track of it, you can’t measure it.  If you can’t measure it, you are guessing—and dealerships are businesses not the Vegas tables!  KNOW.  Don’t guess.
  10. Operate all of this as the “Great Turning Wheel of Retention”, because your best new customers are always your previous customers.  There is a lifecycle to all sales, and the strongest lifecycle is when the cycle is worked for retention—because abandonment actually chases customers away.  Draw them back into your dealership for sales and service!  They already visited you once to purchase, and they will again if you manage them in a lifecycle focused on retention.

Dealers:  Don't follow "The Road Less Profited” any more.

Instead, follow “The Road to Retention” and make more money than ever!


by Keith Shetterly, Copyright 2012
All Rights Reserved,

P.S. Many thanks to the late Robert Frost and his poem "The Road Not Taken" (with the famous "The Road Less Traveled" line) for inspiration for the title.  Check it out of you've not read it!  And be sure to attend this fall--I'll be there, and think about this:  If you can't measure all this, how do you do all this?  Measurement:  Not just common sense, but a good idea!  :)  Find out how at AutoCon2012!

Also please check out the rest of my "The Road . . ." sales series at The Six ONLINE Steps On the Road to the Sale and Road to the Sale is More than Ten Steps--You Knew this, Right?

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Comment by Tom Gorham on June 29, 2012 at 6:43am

Great steps to retention and reconversion.  Thanks Keith!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 27, 2012 at 4:32am

Thanks Tom!

Comment by Thomas A. Kelly on June 27, 2012 at 2:04am

Good post Keith, thank you!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 26, 2012 at 7:10pm

You're welcome, Leonard.  I'd love some feedback from them, if you get any.  Thanks!

Comment by Leonard Buchholz on June 26, 2012 at 6:46pm

Sharing this post with the DealerPro Team. Thanks Keith!

Comment by Keith Shetterly on June 26, 2012 at 5:58pm

Thanks Jim!  I'm on a book based on "The Road".  We'll see!  :)

Comment by Jim Radogna on June 26, 2012 at 5:04pm

Great post Keith - thanks for sharing!

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