We’re a talkative bunch at our dealership and the thing we really enjoy are conversations we have with our customers. Sports, weather and, yes, even automobiles. Over the years, we’ve paid attention and learned a thing or two from these conversations. Vehicle owners tell us that keeping up with regular scheduled maintenance is the one thing that most find costly and inconvenient. They do understand how important this is to ensure safe and dependable transportation, but still find it to be a burden. These conversations are what lead to the inspiration for our “Lifetime” program. We decided we could help our customers feel a little better about taking good care of their cars.
With dealership margins shrinking as quickly as sales are slowing, you’ll have to get creative if you want to stay profitable this year. Fortunately, the best way to grow revenue during a sales slump doesn’t require nearly as much effort or expense as new customer acquisition. Plus, it uses tools that you’ve already got at your disposal.
The best way to grow revenue in 2017 is to focus on the customers you already have. It’s not only 50 percent easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one — it’s also six to seven times less expensive. The key is to connect with customers in meaningful ways — ways that offer them value while keeping you top of mind.
How do you befriend a skittish puppy?
You crouch down to the pup’s level, hold your hand out — but not too far — palm face up, and wait patiently until he approaches, haltingly at first, sniffs your fingers and then finally licks your palm. Then you can reach behind his ears with your fingertips and pet him.
That’s the principle you have to use when handling new contacts through your BDC. Today’s potential car buyers are beyond skittish, though. They’re mega-skittish. They’ve met one too many pushy salesperson jacked up on triple lattes trying to bump them up from an Explorer to an Expedition when all they wanted was a little information on the traction control system of Ford’s new SUVs.
It’s a New Year. Everyone is hoping to lose all that extra holiday weight, save money or become more organized. Or, if your customers are looking to incorporate their car needs with other goals they made, be sure to let them know your dealership is here to help. But now that it is already February, how many of your customers are still working on their resolutions? Regardless of their progress, why not take the opportunity to remind them?
For example, if a customer mentions that one of their resolutions is to save more money or travel more, this is a great opportunity for your dealership. Your service drive department and sales team can commit to helping them make wise decisions when it comes to car maintenance and upkeep in order to improve their finances and ability to travel more in their car.
The best way to gain and retain customers is by providing services that other dealerships won’t, and making sure that the customers know you value their business. Happy customers not only continue to do business with you, but will often pay more if they value the relationship. In my years in the car business, I’ve seen a trend in customer satisfaction proven out time and again: The people who pay more are generally happier and the people who negotiate the best deals are usually not as happy. Happiness and satisfaction are based on the customer’s perceived value of your dealership and services, and perception is reality.
Last month, we went over ways your dealership can change customer perception by making the most of online reviews and enhancing your dealership’s value proposition. This time, I’ll conclude by examining other ways to build your dealership up in the eyes of your customers.
Dealerships that identify their most valuable customers immediately set themselves up for success. They know there’s power behind the relationships they build with shoppers, and the more they interact, engage and improve the customer experience, the more loyalty and trust they’ll gain.
Relationships take work. In fact, building relationships can sometimes seem like a lot more work than simply tossing marketing materials out and hoping something sticks. But we’ve learned over time that guesswork marketing is no way to build a brand. Instead, smart dealerships rely on solid data insights to help them reach consumers and stand out as leaders in today’s marketplace. Technology continues to change to meet business needs, and nearly limitless shopper insights are right at dealerships’ fingertips. From that point, it’s up to dealers to leverage the most important insights and utilize them to build relationships that keep shoppers coming back.