Automotive Digital Marketing

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Imagine a customer that is in for a routine oil change at your dealership.

As part of the complimentary inspection your store provides, it is discovered that the vehicle’s brake pads are severely worn and it would be unsafe to continue driving the vehicle much longer without replacement.  The service advisor brings this to the customer’s attention. Rather than making the immediate decision to do the brake service that day, the customer takes the work under advisement, pays for the oil change and goes on their way. 


It could be that the decision was purely financial (not expecting to spend more money that day).  Regardless, the consumer is now armed with the information that they need a brake service and it plants a seed in their mind.  Perhaps they believe they were trying to be sold a service that wasn’t completely necessary, (or not needed yet) or perhaps they need to do their own due diligence before spending the money.  That same customer may go online to research brake service. Or they may talk to a friend or use social media to invite opinions.  Perhaps they will call another dealer or even another car repair company down the street to get an estimate.   In the process, before the decision to actually perform the work is done, they may have touched more than a handful of resources besides your dealership’s service department. Will your dealership earn the business? Will the customer be loyal to you?  At this point, you can only hope so.


Consumers by nature have a tendency to not trust everything they hear until they have heard it from multiple sources, or have received the information multiple times.  Therefore, before the decision to spend is made, the consumer may need to educate themselves. And one such way is to use third party information online, or to talk to others - whatever it takes to help them reinforce their decision to purchase.


How about helping the consumer in this decision process while building credibility for your dealership? As an example, provide evidence of the needed service (show the customer how thin the brake pads are). Then support that with a third party video or YouTube video that demonstrates what is done in a brake service and how it will benefit the customer.  Assuming you are competitive with your prices, it may also be worthwhile to show the consumer a list of advertised prices from nearby service centers.  It’s upfront, it builds customer trust and in the end it can mean retaining the customer for this service as well as further services down the road.


Impulse purchases aren’t usually made when it comes to servicing a vehicle. What is the “fun” in getting a transmission fluid change or brakes replaced? There is little consumer satisfaction in spending their hard earned money in this manner, even if it is a necessity. In a perfect world, we would all like every customer to come in, make their purchase and return again soon.  However, since car dealerships aren’t the convenience store down on the corner where a customer runs in for a Slurpee and ends up with three candy bars as well, make good use of each opportunity you have to provide informative, helpful information. Ensure that when the consumer is ready to make their purchase, your dealership is the one they choose. 

Views: 258

Tags: advisor, automotive, customer, dealership, decision, efficiency, evidence, information, retention, service, More…time


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Comment by Ralph Paglia on January 18, 2015 at 8:07pm

From The Automotive Customer Loyalty and Retention Conference:

March 24-26, 2015 | Rosen Shingle Creek Resort | Orlando, FL


  1. It costs much less to retain a current customer than to develop a relationship with a new one.
  2. Dealerships have limited resources to spend when dealing with unhappy customers. Dealers need to hear from customers what they require to keep them loyal.
  3. When dealerships lose customers, not only does future income disappear, but there’s a good chance the money spent to acquire the customer in the first place has yet to be recaptured. How many of YOUR customers can you afford to send to your competitors?
  4. Customers who have trust and confidence in their providers will spend more and purchase higher-margin products. They are also more likely to refer friends and family to a trusted vendor.
  5. Margins are higher with loyal customers because they cost less to maintain.

Comment by Michael on January 17, 2015 at 10:02am

Great Great Great simple show and tell above on just one example of most services that hit the drive and work found needed and NOT sold. What huge servicing opportunity here for follow up with suggestions you sited. A dozen years ago as a GM this occurance of opportunities when inspections do occur at a Dealership. WOW it's a Goldmine per say. Mining data capture was being assembled by ADP and R&R generically classified and reported as:WRNS, Work Recommended Not Sold. When you consider all the Shotgun marketing that Dealers mine via Direct Mail that returns a 3% service customer redemption, this prior Gold Mine sitting within the Data Management System(DMS) is 'pure' Gold to be mined. Video is an absolute vital ingredient to recapture and then retention. GP in service deparments is collectively about 60% vs. New vehicle GP being at 8%. If the bays have any 'down time' start digging.

Comment by Gregory Lawrence Noonan on January 17, 2015 at 4:59am

Good morning Rich,

Two and 1/2 years ago you and Jody joined me and 30 others for dinner in Orlando. During that meal we all shared ideas on Customer Loyalty. You may remember the binoculars we gave out that said Insight Media and why we gave them. They have a 16 to 1 optical advantage. So does Customer Service compared to Variable.

I told you we were concentrating on this area and to look for a conference on Customer Loyalty thorough Service. Well it's happening and we'd love you to be part of it. Please spread the word on the first Automotive Loyalty and Retention conference for franchise car dealers. You can go to

Come be with us and invite your dealers to be immersed in an environment where service loyalty is the main focus not a byproduct. Consumer go for service about every 4,500 miles and cars are 11 plus years old. Every vehicle represents at least 20-25 ROs in its lifetime. Advertising for new customers is great by why do we throw so many of our current customers to the aftermarket? A small cultural shift in a dealership has dramatic affect on the bottom line. AutoPoint gets it so come share it at Insight15.

Those at the dinner know we were talking about this for years prior to the event and we sure look forward to having companies who have products and services that improve Loyalty to be part of Insight15. There is no better place than Orlando on March 24-26 to share ideas on Customer Loyalty and Retention through Service. This will be on a smaller scale but the same idea as the conference we put on with Chrysler in October.

Thank you and anyone who wants can look me up on LinkedIn or email me

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