A great article in CBT News cites that almost half of customers who state they are loyal to the selling dealer go elsewhere to service their vehicle. Only one-third of all vehicle services are performed at automotive dealerships. And we know brand loyalty and dealership loyalty measurements are fleeting and hard to rely on.
Now---really think about this for a minute---it’s kind of overwhelming: According to DMEautomotive, customers that service their vehicles at your dealership are 86 times more likely to buy their cars (plural) from you! Keep in mind that new customers cost up to 25 times as much as retaining existing customers!!
Driving retention is not a new idea for anyone. You have likely spent boatloads of money training your team in the service introduction, offering significant discounts and coupons, post-sale communication techniques, fleets of loaner cars……all key ingredients to retention success.
You can always do more. There are two basic steps we must achieve…first, get the customer in for their first service visit, and second make that visit a great experience for the customer so you set the next appointment and start the long-term relationship.
Some considerations you may want to take in this process you already have could look like this:
- Lose the discussion about the first oil change—that is often 10,000 miles away! Consider language like "Remember your first service appointment is super important! This is your vehicle's break-in period where you get to know it, and it gets to know you. We will want to make sure everything is working as it should be.”
- Set the appointment 3 months out with the customer at delivery (in your CRM or service system) and assure the customer that your team will call the week ahead to confirm or reschedule.
- Offer to pick up the vehicle and leave a loaner when possible, and at the very least, offer a loaner. This is a 1-hour service so many will be happy to wait, but it never hurts to show how far you will go to make their lives easier and earn their business.
- Be sure the selling sales representative as well as the service team are expecting the customer’s arrival. Greet them by name. Acknowledge how great it is to see them again. Ask how they are enjoying the vehicle.
- Set the next service with them in the same manner when they are there. Avoid yes or no questions like “Can we set up your next appointment?” Instead try, “Based on your average mileage we have set an appointment for you on Jan 4th at the same time you set for today. Of course, we will call the week ahead to confirm or reset and we will arrange transportation for you then.”
Be creative---there is no more important road to success in this market than super customer retention. Take these considerations into account and keep what’s yours; don’t donate customers to your competition!