Hint — Stop Looking to Your Website!
Even with all the bright lights and pony rides focusing on digital marketing, more dealers and managers are realizing the value of building their customer base instead of just riding the up and down marketing, Internet and social media bandwagon.
Within days of focusing on prospecting and retention, they’re seeing the cost benefits and extra profits from working within their existing customer base instead of just through expensive and time-consuming online and offline ads and marketing.
When I talk about retention or follow up and prospecting, some people misunderstand. I’m never suggesting that you abandon advertising, your website or other lead generation or social media marketing. I am suggesting that you create clear goals and a clear plan to balance your efforts with lead generation advertising and marketing with retention, follow up and prospecting to grow your sales from within.
It seems like it takes a recession to remind dealers and managers that you have zero control over your market-driven floor traffic. It is always true that when the market is great, you have traffic on the lot, and when the market turns sour, you don’t.
The opposite is true once you learn to drive your own high quality traffic into the dealership. When I talk about driving traffic, I’m not talking about driving leads to the phone or to your website. I’m talking about bringing destination buyers into your dealership who show up for one reason, and only one reason – to buy a vehicle from you on the spot.
Once your system, process and training are in place, results are immediate. Sales and gross go up, satisfaction in every area goes up, service revenue goes up, expenses go down, profit goes up, and there is an immediate change you can feel in the selling atmosphere.
Compare it to going to a party with strangers and trying to fit in, versus going to a reunion of people you’ve known for years. Selling becomes fun every day because you’re dealing with people you know and like.
As always, there are a couple of speed bumps…
• Turnover Hurts Total Customer Retention
71% of the people buy because they liked their salesperson.
There are a couple of reasons walk-in traffic is tougher to close. First of all, they’re price shoppers; and on top of that, they don’t like your salesperson. They don’t know or trust you and vise versa, when they first walk on the lot. Those are feelings that can be taught to be handled by salespeople by the eight-step road to the sale.
Why do you lose sales with turnover? Think back to when you were selling and you’ll remember many customers who came on the lot asking for a particular salesperson who wasn’t there any more (Bob). You said, “Bob isn’t with us any longer, how can I help you?” They said, “Oh, that’s OK, we were just driving by – we’ll stop in some other time, blah, blah, bye-bye.”
Solution: Learn to hire correctly and train your new and experienced salespeople.
Make correct follow up and retention with every sold customer a requirement, not an option. Coach and manage salespeople to help them sell more and get rid of the de-motivating elements in the dealership. When they sell more, earn more and become motivated, you’ll retain them longer. (We cheat – we train daily, and 45 of our 49 employees average over 12 years with the company.)
• Salespeople Can’t Retain Customers by Themselves
Training and managing salespeople’s activities daily to make sure they do their follow up will definitely improve your customer retention and your growth. However, just doing a follow up won’t flip the 30% walk-ins to the 70% repeat, referral and dealership customer ratios you need to control growth.
• 78% of service customers would buy at that dealership.
• 80% of new vehicle sales never make it to service.
• 80% of service customers never make it to sales.
Almost every dealership reading this has two independent departments; sales and service. Both are doing their thing trying to turn a profit in their own departments. What most dealerships don’t have are those two critical departments working together to retain the dealership’s customers forever.
“Sales” meets them at the curb, closes the sale, turns them to finance, delivers the vehicle – then says “See ya!”
“Service” works on their vehicles, sends them specials, does the work, delivers it – then says “See ya!”
If you don’t make every customer a service customer, then it’s like selling them a car, and right away they move out of town. You can call, write, text and email all you want to, but good luck — you’ll need it; they never got on the right path.
When you turn them into a service customer as part of the delivery process, everything changes. Then except for those who do move out of town, your chances of retaining them are close to 100% — provided you follow procedures for effective sales: follow up and retention process, good service work, and effective follow up and retention processes by service.
To continually grow, both sales and service have to stop thinking about making a sale in just their department, and start thinking about total retention for the dealership. The process for every delivery, including used vehicles, should be: sell it, send them to finance, set their first “quick check” appointment in a couple weeks, deliver it, continue to service and retain them. That way, both sales and service maintain a consistent follow up and retention process to get them back to the sales department, so we can start all over again. Sell – service — sell – service — sell. Get everyone trained and pick up millions more in gross profit in your dealership, the easy way.