Dealerships spend a lot of time, money and effort in order to attract new customers. Some dealers may even become so fixated on drawing in new customers, that they overlook the relationships they already have. The dealers who are looking to shift to a more client-based culture may find it challenging. It’s a different mindset and most likely will require changing the culture of their store. Here are a few tips and strategies to create a culture geared towards customer retention.
Build Bridges – Most departments of the dealership run independently and have limited contact with each other. All too often, the employees and managers of the departments become increasingly focused on their own objectives rather than those of the entire dealership. For example, the finance manager that is unwilling to present a maintenance contract or a service advisor that is uninterested in meeting a new car customer. Running a successful dealership today is a team effort and each department should be made aware of how they can impact each other. Opening the lines of communication is one of the most important things you can do, and continually work on.
Look in the Mirror – Often the customer’s first impression of you and the dealership will start the moment they land on your website or read a customer review. When was the last time you navigated through your own website? Was information accurate and the content fresh? Were the promotions or special offers current? The power of a positive first impression helps build a high level of trust between you and the potential customer. The importance of your digital presence is critical to your success and the image of the dealership.
Create Influencers – One of the most effective ways to retain a customer is by leveraging the relationship between them and their salesperson. It’s all about creating awareness. A well-trained sales person should be endorsing the dealerships products and services during the buying process, not after. Even if a guest chooses to do business elsewhere they should leave with a clear understanding of what the dealership has to offer. I overheard a customer explain that the only reason for not purchasing the nearly $4,000.00 worth of parts and accessories from them was because they didn’t know the dealership offered them. Train everyone in the dealership (even the part time lot guy), to be ambassadors for the dealership.
Remove Obstacles – Dealerships that have the fewest number of hurdles dramatically increase their chances for profitability and loyalty success. The less effort it takes for the guest to accomplish their goal, the better chance you will have of retaining them. You’re going to have a hard time wooing a service customer if it takes over an hour for an oil change and a week to get in. Even the nicest customer lounge starts to lose its appeal after the two hour wait to get into finance. Look at the process though your customers’ eyes, ask yourself would I do business here.
To sum it up, if you want to create a culture that will attract and retain customers, start by opening the lines of communication between the different departments of the dealership. Communicate clear expectations to everyone, insure that each department understands the role they play and its responsibility to the team. Leave a positive first impression to online visitors and manage the reviews of the dealership. Train your sales staff to be advocates for the dealership with processes they can be held accountable to. And most importantly, remove the road blocks that are preventing your guest from doing business with you.
Learn how to improve low CSI, costly employee turn-over and reduced customer loyalty by attending Dan Hahn’s session “Does Your Dealership Suffer from Toxic Service Drive Syndrome?” at the Digital Dealer 23 Conference & Expo this Sept. 18-20th in Las Vegas. You will leave this session with proactive treatment methods and proven approaches to reduce turn-over, improve the customer experience and increase your service sales!
Author: Dan Hahn
Dan Hahn is a Fixed Ops Trainer with Automotive Development Group, LLC. Dan began his automotive career as a porter at a luxury dealership, while attending college for automotive technology degree. He spent 15 years as a technician and then transitioned to the role of a service manager at several large size metro dealerships. At one of them he managed over forty technicians and fifteen advisors that wrote over 6,000 R/O’s per month. On top of being a Certified Master Technician and a Service Manager, Dan is an accomplished trainer. Today, he works for a performance improvement company and uses his experience to help dealerships across the country improve processes and drive better results.