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With brand loyalty at its highest point ever, it’s time to take a new look at customer loyalty within your own dealership. According to IHS Automotive, as of the first quarter 2015, the automotive industry is sitting on a ten-year high of 52.8 percent in brand loyalty - mostly attributed to an increased diversity in model offerings and an increased popularity in leasing. While this is great news, it is important not to confuse brand loyalty with customer loyalty.
If a consumer is interested in buying or leasing another vehicle of the same brand, that doesn’t necessarily mean they will do so from YOUR dealership. So, the question then becomes what is your dealership doing to stand out from the crowd? Customers expect great customer experiences - especially if they are already loyal customers.
Customer retention and loyalty are key to the profitability and growth of a dealership. Yet far too often I see dealers that dismiss rewards programs as “too expensive.” Offering perks, incentives and rewards does not have to be this hugely expensive proposition. Yes, there are some incredibly successful dealers that have gone to amazing measures – even installing such items as movie theaters, or other luxury amenities, to entice customers and make their time at the dealership more enjoyable -- less a “waiting in the service lounge” type of experience. Some of these high ticket amenities are making huge returns for these dealers. But, what can you do if you don’t have the budget or space to replicate them?
Consider offering low cost perks of high perceived value to your customers. Perhaps offer to fix that first ding in their new vehicle free of charge. For many new vehicle owners there’s nothing worse than that first minor blemish -- and it can be very inexpensive to bring the customer into the service department and restore their vehicle to “as good as new.” It’s an excellent way to introduce your customers to your service offerings and can be the start of building a loyal customer.
On the opposite end of the buying spectrum, how about offering a free detail to those customers that haven’t visited your service department for some time. This is a service that has high perceived value to many customers – I have seen it successfully attract lost customers back into the service department. And it gives the opportunity to rekindle that relationship and win the customer back.
Customer loyalty and retention continue to rise in importance as vehicle loan terms increase -- consumers are choosing to hang on to their vehicles longer than ever before. If you rely on repeat purchases, you will have a longer wait period between visits. Take the time to analyze what your dealership is doing to offer value to your customers and give them a reason to keep coming back. Consider adding some sort of low cost perks, discounts and rewards. You’ll find that the customers feel appreciated and become more loyal to you without breaking the bank.