Many dealers face the ongoing challenge of how to effectively reach the right customers with the right message, bring those customers into their showrooms and service bays, and keep them coming back again and again. Consumer shopping habits have shifted in recent years, away from traditional mass media platforms like TV, print and radio, toward more targeted and digital mediums that include targeted direct email and mail, internet, and mobile. Dealerships that do not understand targeted and digital marketing continue to see diminishing returns with traditional mass marketing that continues to be costly and nearly impossible to measure.
Today, the most successful dealers are using targeted and digital mediums that are less expensive, more measurable and give a better return on investment than traditional mass marketing. The key to their success is integrating all their targeted and digital advertising to maximize their results, however, this can also present a challenge as the average dealer works with multiple vendors to execute their entire marketing strategy which results in different strategies, messages and designs that too often are not integrated with one another.
Fernandez Honda in San Antonio, Texas, a member of the Mike Shaw Automotive Group, the 2012 Time Dealer of the Year, has found a solution by implementing an integrated targeted and digital marketing strategy across multiple mediums using one marketing partner to attract, sell, service and retain more customers for less cost than traditional mass marketing.
“Our total new and used sales are up 37 percent year to date through June because we took steps to more clearly define our audience within our primary market,” said Adam Claiborne, General Manager of Fernandez Honda. “Our first two months on the new strategy saw an immediate increase with over 27 percent in new car sales and we’ve remained consistently above last year’s numbers.”
Fernandez Honda began with a comprehensive five-year historical analysis of their sales and service transactions to determine customer trends. Those findings were then compared to leading third-party and industry data to establish consumer patterns within the local market. The results enabled Fernandez Honda to identify vehicle owners with the greatest probability of buying or servicing with their dealership, as well as identify same-brand owners who had never visited Fernandez Honda, and off-brand owners with a historical pattern of crossing over to Honda.
Once Fernandez Honda had more clearly defined their market, they implemented a comprehensive targeted and digital marketing strategy using variable direct email and mail campaigns that consistently speak to customers throughout the 60-month life cycle of their vehicle with custom messaging that includes: a thank you and welcome message for recent purchasers, maintenance reminders for newer vehicles not yet in-equity but that may be due for recommended maintenance, and ongoing targeted email and mail sales communications to customers in an equity position. Using high-end creative campaigns, Fernandez Honda promotes its best sales offers with custom service offers that reflect the service status of the customer’s vehicle. For example, active service customers who routinely come in for service receive a $29.95 Oil Change coupon, but customers who are categorized as lost, or who do not regularly service with Fernandez Honda, receive the same offer but for $21.95 to encourage them to come back.
“THIS SITE LOOKS SHARP AND PROFESSIONAL, IT TIES IN WITH ALL OUR SALES AND SERVICE PROMOTIONS AND WE’VE NOTICED A DEFINITE INCREASE IN CUSTOMERS PRINTING COUPONS FROM THE SITE.” – Adam Claiborne, General Manager
Fernandez Honda also aggressively targets conquest service customers within their primary marketing area who own Hondas but did not buy from them. This is unique because most dealers use the manufacturer’s service marketing program which often limits a dealer to only communicate with customers that have purchased directly from their store, but also limits the dealer from contacting numerous conquest opportunities within their market. If a dealer only has 30 percent market share, they are essentially missing out on an additional 70 percent of the area’s service market. Fernandez Honda recognized the opportunity to broaden its service marketing program with conquest and has greatly expanded their reach of potential service customers.
Another component to Fernandez Honda’s strategy is that every outbound targeted email and mail campaign directs customers to an online Campaign Conversion Site that not only displays the featured promotions of the email or mail campaign they have just received, but also shows them every sales and service offer that Fernandez Honda is currently running. If a customer is not in the market for the specific offers they just received they can check Fernandez Honda’s campaign conversion site for other available offers.
“This site looks sharp and professional, it ties in with all our sales and service promotions and we’ve noticed a definite increase in customers printing coupons from the site,” said Claiborne. “Plus it’s updated monthly by our marketing company, so I don’t have to give it a second thought – it just gets done.”
When customers visit the dealership they see POS merchandising throughout the store that validates the advertising message they recently saw online or received in the mail, further building credibility and helping increase the closing ratio.
In addition to their targeted and digital campaigns, Fernandez Honda is beginning to implement a unique strategy that specifically targets vehicle sales within their service lanes. This program, the “Vehicle Exchange Program” will be integrated across Fernandez Honda’s website, campaign conversion site, the showroom and service lanes, as well as their direct mail. The key to this program is the confirmation call that the call center places to confirm the customer’s service appointment. If a customer is in an equity position, Fernandez Honda’s call center informs them that they are eligible to upgrade into a new vehicle for the same payment as their old vehicle. So rather than wait and hope that the customer will buy from them when they’re ready, Fernandez Honda will proactively sell to the customers in service before they enter the market and shop their competition.
“The best customer that any dealer can find is one they already have because customers who have an active service relationship with a dealership are seven times more likely to purchase with that dealership,” says Budd Blackburn, owner of Team Velocity Marketing, the company that Fernandez Honda uses for their sales and service marketing.
An added benefit to this integrated sales and service marketing strategy is a healthier trade pattern. Since switching strategies they’ve brought in more late model trades, 2008-2010 which helps cut costs by the dealer not having to overpay at auction.
Fernandez Honda also provides customers with a free mobile app that is custom branded for their store. This app gives the customer free tools to improve their ownership experience and customer satisfaction. The Fernandez Honda Auto App features a one-click to roadside assistance, a car finder to help them find their vehicle in a crowded parking lot, a parking meter alert, a flashlight, a gas savings navigator, links to navigation and notifications that remind the customer when their vehicle is due for service and when they are able to upgrade their car for the same payment or sell their car when they have equity. This free app helps improve the ownership experience and encourages an ongoing relationship between the customer and the dealership.
Once a customer takes delivery, Fernandez Honda stays in contact with them by thanking them for buying and asking for referrals and online reviews, which helps to build their reputation when consumers search for them online.
Fernandez Honda provides customers with minor and major service reminders and contacts them when their warranty is about to expire to offer extended service agreements, as well as when the customer is in an equity position and can sell their vehicle or upgrade into a new car for the same payment with compelling offers delivered through email, text, and direct mail.
To measure the effectiveness of all their marketing strategies and ensure quality customer care, Fernandez Honda uses a call-monitoring system to track their advertising, employees, and how their customers are treated by listening to every call that comes into their dealership.
By listening to all their calls, Fernandez Honda has been able to identify, troubleshoot, and correct many problem areas including new car sales calls never reaching an agent or hanging up while on hold, calls being sent to voicemail of which half elected to leave no message, sales agents failing to identify themselves, sales agents failing to get contact information from caller, connected calls being ‘off-lined’ for a call back, a low percentage of sales calls resulting in appointments, appointments being set with no time or date specified or being set for future dates, and failure to create a pleasant and positive impression with the primary call handler.
They receive daily, weekly and monthly reports that enables them to see which ad campaigns generate the best response and pre-empt any potential customer concerns before they escalate – which improves their overall CSI and helps create lifelong satisfied customers.
The Bottom Line
Fernandez Honda Jumps 24% in New Car Sales in First Month with Integrated Marketing Strategy
WHAT THEY DO
1. Conduct comprehensive market research to clearly define their local market.
2. Identify the perfect customers and prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying and/or servicing with their dealership.
3. Speak consistently to their customers throughout the 60-month lifecycle of their vehicle.
4. Drive consumer traffic to their custom campaign site that promotes all their sales and service offers.
5. Provide free mobile apps to improve the customer ownership.
6. Monitor inbound calls to help pre-empt
CSI issues before they escalate and improve ad-tracking.
RESOURCES THEY USE
1. DMS: DealerTrack
2. Targeted Marketing Company: Team Velocity Marketing www.TeamVelocityMarketing.com
3. Call Monitoring: CallRevu
4. Mobile App: DealerApp Vantage
1. Define your ideal local market by finding the perfect customers and prospects with the highest statistical probability of buying and/ or servicing with your dealership now and in the future.
2. Create dynamic, cohesive campaigns that consistently speak to your customers throughout the 60-month lifecycle of their vehicle.
3. Consistently target in-market same-brand prospects, and consumers who drive off-brands with a historical trend of crossing over to the brands you sell.
4. Drive consumer traffic to a custom campaign conversion site that promotes all your sales and service offers to help increase your internet sales and service leads.
5. Provide free mobile apps to improve the customer ownership experience and encourage ongoing owner participation with the dealership – creating customers with the highest lifetime value for your dealership.
6. Monitor inbound calls so you know what ads are generating better response rates and pre-empt CSI issues before they escalate.
“The best customer that any dealer can find is one they already have because customers who have an active service relationship with a dealership are seven times more likely to purchase with that dealership.” –Budd Blackburn, owner of Team Velocity Marketing, the company that Fernandez Honda uses for their sales and service marketing