It costs most dealers about five times as much to acquire a new customer than to retain those they already have. Yet, increasing customer retention by as little as 5% can increase profits by up to 95%, according to the research group Bain & Company.
That’s because loyal customers and enthusiastic fans will keep coming back — and they’ll refer friends and family to your dealership. Loyal customers also tend to prioritize great customer service over price and scoring the best deal.
Bottom line? It pays to put time and resources into nurturing your existing customer relationships. Begin cultivating loyal customers immediately with these three retention strategies.
1. Build Loyalty in the Service Lane
Customers are wary of being sold unnecessary services. A multi-point inspection tool with photo and video capabilities allows service advisors to show customers what needs to be done, instead of just telling them. This goes a long way to build trust and loyalty.
Prioritizing customer convenience by implementing helpful technology also improves customer satisfaction. The J.D. Power 2019 Customer Service Index Study found that satisfaction is 75 points higher (on a 1,000-point scale) among customers who have an all-digital experience where they can schedule service online, communicate via text message and view service recommendations on a tablet.
Some of the best results happen when service advisors change their communication strategy to emphasize the safety aspects of necessary services. When customers learn that a faulty spark plug or alternator could leave them stranded on the side of the road, they will be more likely to approve the service. They’ll also feel gratitude toward your service department for recognizing and fixing the problem.
2. Capitalize on Your BDC
The human connection goes a long way to create loyal buyers. Customers will reward companies that take the time to build genuine, personal relationships. Give your sales associates and service advisors that time by delegating everyday tasks to your BDC.
Don’t have the resources to handle these tasks? You might look at outsourcing the work, or a portion of it, to a trusted virtual BDC.
Your BDC should handle the majority of inbound and outbound phone calls, especially in the service department. When inbound service calls are handled properly by your BDC, up to 72% convert to an appointment.
Your BDC should also help with personalized, targeted marketing campaigns that build loyalty. Use your CRM to schedule event-based marketing triggers that re-engage customers at the perfect time in the buying cycle. For example, create a special offer for service customers you haven’t seen in six months. Then, have your BDC follow up with phone calls. Well-targeted cross-channel campaigns build momentum and loyalty because you’re offering a relevant message that meets your customers’ unique needs.
3. Practice Strategic Data Mining
Data mining can help you build loyalty at both the sales desk and in the service drive. It’s also a great way to source well-maintained vehicles for your pre-owned inventory without paying auction and delivery fees.
The best way to execute this strategy is to have a dedicated data mining expert or team. These individuals keep an eye on service appointments for customers in an equity position with vehicles that are in-demand in your market.
Eligible customers receive a written trade-in offer and suggestions for a new vehicle with confirmed incentives, interest rates and lease options, if applicable. Keep in mind that few customers will accept a deal on the spot, so have a process in place for BDC follow up.
Customers who accept a deal will get a fair price for their trade-in vehicle, plus a new vehicle with the most modern safety and technology features, all fully protected by a manufacturer’s warranty.
This way, you meet vehicle needs your customers may not even know they have, which helps to engender loyalty and increase the likelihood they will return to your dealership for future service. Plus, now you have well-maintained vehicles to stock your pre-owned lot. It’s a win-win.