Closing a deal is a great feeling for every salesperson, regardless of how long they’ve been in the automotive industry. One thing that more experienced salespeople know more than new salespeople is that selling a customer a car is only the beginning of that relationship. After you’ve sold them a car, you need to work on that relationship to ensure that not only do they come back to your dealership for service, but for their next vehicle purchase.
We get it, most dealers put their time and effort into the here and now. Everyone is so busy working on bringing their inventory back to pre-Covid numbers that it’s hard to think about investing time into the future. Inventory levels are as low as they’ve ever been and the value of used cars is at an all-time high, creating desperation in dealerships to come out of this economic crisis on top. We certainly understand how customer retention may have been placed on the back burner recently, but if you want to have success for years to come, you need to change that.
There are many simple things you can do to instill loyalty in your customers and keep your customer retention rate as high as can be. The following practices will help you bring back customers for their first, second and third service appointment, all the way until it’s time for them to buy their next vehicle.
1. Service appointment reminders during the delivery of a vehicle. Most people know that the key to getting the most out of their vehicle is to ensure they’re keeping up with regular maintenance. You need to remind the customer who just bought a car from you this and get them back in for service at your dealership. Schedule a reminder appointment with your BDC so the customer is informed every time their due for an appointment. It’s shocking how many dealerships lose business simply because they don’t remind their customers of due service appointments. Most of the time if you’re the one who sold the customer the vehicle and reminded them about the service appointment, you’ll get the business.
2. Keep it personal. So the customer who you sold a car to 6 months ago is coming into the shop for his first service appointment. A great way to show you care about the relationship is to have the sales representative who sold the customer the car greet them at the front. Welcome them into the dealership, offer them a drink and let them get comfortable. This personal bit of attention shows the customer that you truly care about them and appreciate that they’re continuing to do business with you.
3. Make it convenient for your customers. Life gets busy for everyone, trying to get your car in the shop while working your job, getting your kids to school and running errands can be extremely difficult. In this case, make it easy for your customers to get their vehicle serviced by offering options like offering a pickup/drop-off or giving them a loaner vehicle. Your customers will remember you going out of your way to make their lives easier and most will remain loyal customers.
4. Change language when scheduling service appointments. Don’t tell your customer they need to come in for a service appointment in a given amount of time. Instead, recommend that based on mileage, it would be best for them to bring the vehicle in for a service check to keep the vehicle running at peak performance. Find out if there’s a particular day of the week and time that works best for them and make that time happen. The customer will be more likely to book with you as you’re not telling them what to do, only giving them knowledge on how to ensure their vehicle is running at optimal levels. Change your language, change your results.
5. Answer your phone! When you have a question or need an appointment set up, it becomes very frustrating when the person you’re trying to reach doesn’t answer their phone. Don’t let this be your dealership, hire one person whose sole responsibility is to answer the dealership phone at all times. This will not only book you more service appointments but also keep your customers happy.
If you can get in the habit of using these 5 practices, you’ll see increased customer retention and more sales overall. It won’t be long until the industry is back to where it was before the pandemic and if you start these practices now you’ll be in great shape when our industry recovers.
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