What does it take to revolutionize an entire automotive group? Team Toyota’s strategy lies in loyalty, and depends upon strong sales and service customer retention. The group was able to increase their overall profitability, sales volume, and quality of customer interaction by implementing a customer-first culture and retention-focused marketing strategy.
The loyalty marketing service that Team Toyota uses evaluates each customer who has interacted with their sales and service departments, and automatically sends personally-tailored campaigns based on their credit score, their equity position and the finance programs offered. Qualifying customers receive an e-mail and a direct mail piece leading them to a personalized website. The website allows customers to learn more about their personal offers and allows them to browse the inventory as they wish. Each website is built out with the customer’s current information involved. The customer has the capability to compare their current vehicle with the dealer’s inventory, and gives real-time payment and loan estimates based upon the customer’s pre-loaded information.
“Giving customers real payment options on real vehicles increases engagement because it creates questions that only the dealership can answer. The customer feels like they are making an educated decision and the dealership gets the opportunity to earn the customer’s business while earning a reasonable profit. It’s a great win-win,” says Scott Davis, the founder of Team Toyota’s retention program, DrivingLoyalty.com.
In addition to managing all of the dealership’s retention-related marketing campaigns, Driving Loyalty also offers real-time dashboards and tools to ensure staff is on the same page as the customer when he or she visits the dealership. The dashboards showcase all of the dealership’s marketing activity and customer appointments. The closing tools generate follow-up lists for the sales staff and allow them to view each of their customers.
Team Toyota’s system also keeps the staff on track to look after all of their business. Reminders are sent to staff 90 minutes before Driving Loyalty has an optional service that will follow up on leads if the sales staff is not able or does not have the time.
The most efficient factor of this marketing program is “The Undeniable Offer”. Driving Loyalty sends offers to qualified customers every month to educate the customer on their options and encourage engagement. These statements compare the customer’s current vehicle against a newer vehicle with lower miles, more features and a better warranty. They identify all of the advantages of upgrading into a newer vehicle for a lower payment and allow the customer to see the maintenance and fuel savings associated with the dealer’s offer. To further increase conversion, the customer is also shown multiple alternatives and directed to either contact the dealership or visit a personalized website where they can perform additional research without the pressure of an in-person visit.
The customer will continue to receive their personal vehicle statement, offering consistent information about the vehicles they can upgrade into for a lower payment along with current sales and service offers for as long as they own the vehicle.
The key role in this program’s implementation has been the acceptance and interaction by the sales team. “It is amazing how well our sales team has embraced this technology, even the guys you wouldn’t expect,” says Fred Edwing, the Sales Manager at Team Toyota of Princeton. “One of the biggest keys to our success was identifying and automating the things our dealership wasn’t doing or wasn’t doing well. Older equity mining products depend too much upon what the customer does each month, rather than their point in the sales and service cycle. If we go out at the wrong time and market the wrong offers to the wrong customer, we lose money. We focus on doing what we do well and automate the things our dealership wasn’t doing or wasn’t doing well. By clearly defining our strengths and weaknesses, we really thrive.”
Kevin Stroble, GM of Team Toyota Langhorne, confirms this. “Our stores use the same partner to automate loyalty-related marketing activities because they give us the flexibility to experiment with our basic processes without sacrificing the quality or consistency of our marketing. Our results don’t dry up when we have turnover or someone has an off month. We set our parameters and profit requirements. They take care of all the behind-the-scenes activities.”
Team Toyota also incorporates their rewards program with their loyalty marketing. This creates multiple marketing opportunities that are beneficial to the dealership but also logical to the consumer. For every dollar a customer spends in the service department, they receive credits for future maintenance, body shop work, parts or accessories. These credits can also be used to lower the price of their next vehicle.
“Incorporating our rewards statements into the upgrade offers that our customers receive each month creates a number of synergies for our dealership,” says Stroble. “This allows us to make offers during our outbound calls and reference the monthly statements, creating a number of natural conversations. If they need a detail or oil change, we can offer them a discount. If they have questions about their upgrade offer, we can answer them.”
Although the software has been an enormous factor in their success, the leadership teams from all 3 stores are quick to point out that there is no substitute for quality human interaction. “All of the technology solutions Team Toyota uses are designed to empower employees, not replace them,” says Stroble. This may be the true genius behind Team Toyota’s extremely successful strategy – automation to elevate the performance of those who take action while also protecting their opportunities.
When Team Toyota of Princeton implemented this retention program that focused on long-tern rather than short-term gains, the success quickly excited the other group dealerships. Team Toyota of Langhornee, the flagship store, was next; soon enough, all of Paul Muller’s Team Toyota stores were on the program and seeing reduced risk and cost alongside huge growth in their profit centers and customer bases.
TEAM TOYOTA SNAPSHOT
Collectively, these 3 stores have racked up over 70 Toyota Excellence Awards for outstanding performance in sales, service, parts, and customer relations. This is a group that understands how to foster excellence in their employees and build profitable long-term relationships with their customers.
TEAM TOYOTA PRINCETON
Team Toyota Princeton, located in Lawrenceville, New Jersey, was the first to use the program that is now implemented at all three stores.
They have one of the top CSI scores in their region, and have experienced growth from this retention strategy for three years in a row. Currently, the store averages 85 sales each month from the loyalty marketing software.
TEAM TOYOTA LANGHORNE
Team Toyota Langhorne is located in Langhorne, Pennsylvania and boasts the largest service center on the East Coast (180,000 sq. ft.). The store consistently sells 90 units a month from their loyalty program. Last year, they delivered nearly 800 vehicles and generated over $3 million in gross profits from new and used car sales and service revenue as a result of their strategy.
TEAM TOYOTA GLEN MILLS
Team Toyota Glen Mills, located in Glen Mills, Pennsylvania, has doubled their overall sales in a single year. Each month, the store consistently sells 40 to 50 units as a direct result of their loyalty marketing program.