6 Dealership Retention Strategies To Turn Off-Brand Buyers Into Loyal Customers
The ongoing new and used vehicle shortage will not be here forever, but it has forced dealers to acquire, stock and sell whatever vehicles they can get their hands on. While sales to these off-brand vehicles have helped dealerships remain profitable in the short term, the real opportunity lies in cultivating a long-term relationship with those buyers.
With the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reporting that the average price of used cars is up 40% to last year, off-brand sales have been great. But convincing those buyers to return to your store to repairs, maintenance and their next vehicle purchase requires a dedicated effort from your Sales to your Service personnel.
The key to turning off-brand buyers into loyal customers is debunking false myths about service to your dealership. First, it’s critical to show them that your Technicians are experts at taking care to specific vehicle they just bought; and second, that your prices are comparable to those at independent shops.
Buyers may have trusted you to sell them a vehicle based on available inventory. It’s your job to prove to them you can be trusted to take care of their needs for the long haul.
Here Are Six of Our Favorite Dealership Customer Retention Strategies
1. Introduce Your Service Shop
Show don’t tell — walk the customer through your Service department and introduce your Service manager. Explain that your certified Technicians are knowledgeable to customer’s specific vehicle year, model and brand. Discuss the importance of regular service to keep their vehicle safe and running its best.
2. Bust Price Gouging Myths
Transparency engenders trust — be upfront with prices on common maintenance services like oil changes, tire repair/replacements to general tune-ups. You can even price shop independents in your area and create side-by-side comparison to show customers you can meet or beat the competition.
3. Set the First Service
Book it now — schedule the vehicle’s first service appointment with the customer at delivery. Three months out is optimal. Configure your CRM to send two automatic reminders according to the customer’s preference (text, email or phone call), with the second activated a week prior to the scheduled appointment.
4. Make It Easy
Customers want everything to be easy and convenient. Use an online scheduling tool to speed up appointment setting and a digital voice assistant to handle inbound service calls efficiently. Have your Technicians text MPIs and service updates. Offer loaner vehicles or other transportation options. It’s best to adopt all the tools you can afford that an independent shop cannot.
5. Make It Personal
Know your customers by name — call them a few days after delivery to check in and see how they’re doing with the vehicle. Make sure the Sales representative they worked with is available to greet them when they come in for their first service. It’s always nice to see a familiar face.
6. Make It Welcoming
First impressions are everything — a great customer experience begins outside your shop and should continue through every touchpoint. If you’re unsure of what impression you’re making, ask a friend or relative to mystery shop for you. Give them things to look for and listen to their feedback. You’re sure to find even little things you can do better.
A Buyer Is a Buyer
Whether they’re buying an off-brand vehicle or one of your primary brands, every buyer is an opportunity. Every transaction can inspire customer loyalty. And every service appointment can enhance the relationships you’re building with your customers. The sale is just the beginning.