TODAY dealerships are one-stop-shops for buying, trading and servicing cars. However, emphasising all three of these entities to customers can be difficult. Developing customer loyalty has the ability to battle a recession by promoting a wide range of services and incentives.
A good client loyalty programme will be able to effectively and efficiently gather information to target particular spending habits. Building customer faithfulness is an essential component in developing consistent revenue, as well as the overall growth of a dealership.
Peter Isted, managing director of Lifestyle Europe, told Car Dealer in Issue 28 that the biggest threat facing car dealers today was ‘getting customers back through the door after a purchase – dealers are all being reminded of this reality and how we must focus ever harder on existing customers, now that scrappage has run its course’.
Dealers can now activate and track rewards cards, gift cards, and service packages. With service packages, dealerships can now electronically track something as simple as the first oil change, to full-blown packages or other common services, directly on a consumer’s card.
Not only does this provide dealerships with the ability of knowing how many customers return for their first oil change, but they can also generate additional revenue by pre-selling maintenance packages to their customers.
A good customer incentive programme can be tailored to meet specific needs and parameters. By tracking, auto dealers can learn buying habits of particular customers and gain the ability to adapt a rebate, or points program.
For example, if a customer has come to the dealer only once to get an MOT, it can be assumed that the customer went elsewhere to get the service done. A point programme will establish incentives for the customer, allowing them to earn points or return to the dealer for all of their maintenance needs and possibly lead to more.
Essex Auto Group introduced its loyalty scheme in March 2008. The card entitles every new and used car customer to £1,000 of accrued benefits pre-loaded on to it following their purchase. Since then 14,000 cards have been issued, with 40 per cent of customers activating them.
They can be redeemed for special offers on new cars, an extra £500 off a used car, five per cent discount off servicing or parts and accessories or four car valets per year.
Fiat dealers have also launched a new initiative called myFiat. The two main elements are myAccount, where customers build a profile so offers can be tailored to them, and myRewards, which allows them to earn points towards future discounts.
As another means of maximising ongoing customer interaction and fostering greater loyalty, dealers can integrate an online parts shop with a live parts enquiry facility to help increase lead generation and turnover.
EAG group marketing director Matt Brown believes retaining customers using the loyalty scheme is as important as seeking new business.
‘It’s 35 times as costly to find new customers as it is to keep your existing ones happy,’ he said. ‘Our programme is about keeping customers happy and, as a result, loyalty is having a beneficial impact on our business.’
Your loyal customers pay, stay and refer to others. This in turn brings more profit into your dealership therefore it’s vital to keep your friends close but your customers closer.