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Brandon McNett

Brandon McNett General Sales Manager

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Is retention REALLY that hard?

I will admit, I haven’t been in this industry all that long, but it seems like we often are victims of over analyzation and miscalculation.  We’re pretty good at selling vehicles, just bring me the customer and SHAZAM, let me work my magic – SOLD!  Often we struggle at retention, retaining customers and retaining employees seems to be an aspect of the business we are always working on.

The big obstacle that we put in front of ourselves is how do we retain our current business (Service, Sales, Parts) while earning new business?  I don’t want to sound over-simplistic, but it really is about listening to and doing what is best for your customer.  The concept of retention extends to our employees too; do what is best for them and be an advocate for their happiness and I promise you you’ll see the return on your investment from employees and customers! 

If our business truly attempts to take care of the people we encounter in all facets of our business, usually the people will take care of us.  They’ll buy more, they’ll service more, they’ll refer more friends/family and they’ll say great things about us on Social Media.  These are all things that are important to us.  Organic growth, though providing a truly great customer experience is the best money you can spend.  Spend it with your customers, spend it on your facility, spend it on your employees and it will be better than the money you spend on any advertisement, program, plan, training or technology. 

Our greatest resource is truly our customers and our employees, once we invest enough in them – with quality leadership every aspect of our business should improve. 

Simple concepts that win in retention:

  • Retention is ALWAYS cheaper than starting over, with customers or employees.  Protect what you have, keep them happy and new business will come.  If you can’t keep what you already have, why go out and get new business/employees that you’re just going to lose anyway?
  • Ask for and listen to feedback.  Employees and customers often provide us feedback, some of it we don’t want to hear or don’t care to hear.  Everyone has the customer/employee that just could never be made happy.  However, if you notice a theme amongst the feedback you’re getting, maybe there is something to the feedback being given…LISTEN TO IT!
  • Have a plan, develop it, implement and execute it!  We’re really great in this industry about identifying obstacles/objections and sometimes we even overcome them.  But how often do we make plans, develop them, implement and execute.  If these 4 steps aren’t being fully followed, it’s likely you’re having some fall out somewhere.  Have a vision for the business you want to be, the employer you want to be and make sure that you take the necessary steps to get there. 
  • It isn’t that hard, but retention is never easy!  Kind of a contradiction right?  Well by this I mean that it isn’t the difficult to implement ideas or thoughts, it is really doing the small things, doing them well and living by them.  It isn’t easy, because it’s not something you can fix once and just let it go.  It’s constantly curated, worked on and improved upon…this is where it becomes hard for us.  We move from fire to fire to fire, and often forget about the previous fire we just worked on!

I’m sure that everyone reading this already knew the things discussed and it’s nothing more than a reminder….but sometimes reading things that we already know is better than learning something new…you know, like RETENTION!  


Roger Conant

Anne Shaneen

Love this and could not agree more. Sometimes the answers are right in front of us and sometimes we just don't want to see it or put in the effort to change our ways. It's human nature, I suppose. 


Keep with the K.I.S.S. strategy - Keep It Simple, Stupi...

Brandon McNett

Roger, great link and thanks for sharing again - big fan of your work!

Anne,  thanks for the feedback and interaction - sometimes it's the obvious that will have the most impact...not the most difficult!

Kristen Tepper

Couldn't agree more. Your customers will tell you everything you want to know and will also tell their friends, family and co-workers everything they want to know and maybe even some stuff you wish they wouldn't but how do you ensure that you get this feedback?

A tool set to inact these processes is probably the most crucial asset of them all,  we all know an idea is great but without implementation, it's gonna fall flat on it's face.I'm biased.. of course :) but a review and referral program is one awesome way to incorporate a big chunk of what a lot of dealership's are missing... insight, and not just insight but inisght that is detailed and right from the "horse's mouth" while avoiding the frequent over disection of information/data. If someone's referring, you obviously did them right - if someone has a complaint - something went wrong. The ability to motivate these actions to happen frequently is NOT easy, i've heard an incentive always helps though ;) and then the ability track, navigate and create actual improvements through this feedback is priceless. Also the ability to thank your customers for this is HUGE, I think people nowadays forgot how valuable and appreciated a thank you truly is. 

Adam Shiflett

Great article! 

There is another hidden benefit to retention, both employee, and customer. Retention is often thought of as a one to one ratio of keeping one person. In fact, we often quote Life Time Value (LTV) of a customer as the potential revenue that can be generated by one customer and their direct purchases. The unfortunate oversight here is that we ignore the multiplication effect a happy/loyal customer has in referring others to our business.

Numerous studies have proven that before anyone buys they ask their friends who they should go to buy. By retaining happy customers (and employees) we can create a positive amplification of our brand and experience that is essentially free and more effective than any marketing campaign. This fact is exactly why as you mention: "Spend it with your customers, spend it on your facility, spend it on your employees and it will be better than the money you spend on any advertisement..." 

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