CDK's purchase of Auto/Mate may create a major disruption in the dealer management system (DMS) industry. Here is our take. DOWNLOAD
We are creatures of habit. Unfortunately, the habits of the general population has changed over the last decade to create a separation between where they buy cars and where they have them serviced.
What's more unfortunate is that dealers have really started pushing in the same direction. They have service customers and they have sales customers. They divide them up into two groups and treat them completely differently with their marketing. The assumption that someone will service the car at the place that they buy it has gone to the wayside.
In a post I wrote that asked what happened to calling them 'customers', I laid out our internal perspective:
We have a philosophy here at Visible Customer. We do not believe in "service customers" and "sales customers". We believe in "customers". If they're getting their car serviced at your dealership, they should be buying from you as well. If they're buying cars at your dealership, they should probably be having their cars serviced at your dealership (unless they're simply too far away, but even in that situation there are ways to get them to drive to you for certain services).
You don't need to settle. Your goal should be to make everyone a "true customer", one who does everything automotive-related at your dealership. It's about creating a new habit that your customers adopt to make you their only source of car information and the only place they go to meet their needs.
To do this, dealers must first establish that mentality within the dealership. The service drive walk, for example, isn't just another checkbox item in the sales process. It's not something that should be skipped, nor is it something that they should be performing halfheartedly. The sales process is the ideal time to build value within the dealership itself, to set it apart as being a completely different experience from start to finish.
From there, the marketing message to your database must take both sales and service into account. You shouldn't just be sending your oil change specials to your service customers. In fact, it makes more sense to populate more sales messages to your service customers than just about any dealership is doing right now. Why? Because people who are having their cars serviced at the dealership but who are not buying there are doing it out of convenience. They went to a dealership further away from than you are to buy, but they like the convenience of servicing it closer to home. By letting them reasons to consider you for sales, you're giving your dealership an opportunity to earn the business that should have been yours in the first place.
Building true customers out of service or sales customers is an old school way of thinking, but it still works in the digital age. You just have to keep putting out the right messages to the right people at the right time.