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We have all heard about distracted drivers; texting, using your smart phone, talking with passengers and all the other items that could potentially create a dangerous situation while driving. As it relates to service retention in the dealership: the term “distracted drivers” brings on a whole new undertone.
Todays “distracted drivers” or millennial – Gen Y customers are the ones we are trying to grow our loyal database with. Our goal is to retain them as an active customer coming in for service multiple times and then hopefully they will purchase another vehicle from you and then restart the cycle.
By no means do I want to make light of something as serious as distracted driving but when it comes to customer retention we are dealing with another style of distracted drivers. Our drivers or guests have many distractions when it comes to choosing a service facility or how to maintain their car or when to come in for service. Today’s customers are being pulled in many directions and being hit with an arsenal of service specials. This is serious and will affect your bottom line and future growth. We better have a game plan set in place to help reduce our customer’s distractions in an effort to retain your guest. Lets start with education and a clear well funded marketing strategy.
#1 – Education – Lets face it our customers are being bombarded by service specials from the guy on the corner with free this and free that in addition they also offer a fast and convenient solution to service your customer’s needs. The increased push from the aftermarket is eroding our customer database. Actually they own over seventy percent of a $310B dollar industry.
So the next customer that purchases a vehicle or stops in the service drive we need to educate them as to why you are the expert and all the other reasons to service with you. You have a competitive advantage on knowledge, facility and amenities and a greater staff to exceed their expectations. Start yelling it from the top of the dealership why you are better than the guy on the corner
#2 – Marketing - Most customers today are simply looking for a light to come on and when that light comes on, are they coming in to see you or are they simply going to stop at the nearest corner and have a “fast lube”. In 2014 73% of your customers ended up stopping at the corner! End result, you loose and now you are in danger of the customer not needing another service until the light comes back on and this could be another 7 to 8 months. Think about it, one missed service interval might cost you a customer because it could potentially be 15 to 18 months from their previous service until they will need another one due to the extended intervals. We need to act quickly. Establish a clear marketing strategy to eliminate the defection. Make sure you are exploring all digital avenues. Seven out of ten of your customers are searching online before making a buying decision. Communicate to customers on a timely basis, not on your schedule but when they are ready to buy. Direct them to custom landing pages within your dealers website showing service specials, parts, accessories, oil changes, brakes and tires and all the other things you sell. Lets get aggressive and eat into the Fixed Operations opportunity proverbial pie. Harvard performed a study and indicated that a mere five percent increase in customer retention can increase profits by twenty-five and ninety percent. With that type of upside it seems to me customer retention should be the number one focus of todays modern dealer.