2019 Sales Too Slow? Retain Your Top Customers Now!
By Jonathan Greene – Vice President/AutoAwards
As we sit and ponder the direction of vehicle sales in 2019, it begs the question for all dealers to ask themselves…”What is the magic formula to keeping your customers loyal?” As we all know, as vehicle sales slow, retaining our most profitable customers becomes a top priority.
You know how important it is that your customers are loyal, but what can you do to ensure they remain loyal?
The answer for more and more cutting edge dealerships is to bypass traditional marketing methods and launch a highly creative customer loyalty program designed to retain and grow the profitable customers they already have.
A successful loyalty program will keep your customers talking about you, spending money with you and becoming fiercely loyal to your dealership. When researching a loyalty program for your dealership, ask yourself these simple questions:
#1 – Does it build value?
The best loyalty programs give your salespeople an exclusive tool that will help them build value in the dealership, as part of the vehicle sale. If your salespeople can’t leverage the benefits of your program to powerfully demonstrate why your customers should buy from you, it is not built correctly. Let’s face it, if it does not help you sell the car, you have no customer to retain anyway.
#2 – Does it reward your customers for staying loyal to you?
A successful rewards program always includes a points system that has the ability to identify, track and reward your best customers when they remain loyal (and spend money). These point structures should be easy for your customers to understand, allow you to measure the worth of each customer and reward them for hitting spending benchmarks set by you.
#3 – Does it offer value outside of the dealership?
A truly successful loyalty program offers customers value in between service visits! For instance, think about offering additional incentives at local restaurants, retail stores, golf courses and other local merchants. Don’t just “wow” them at your dealership, make sure they remember you in between visits as well. That is where the ever important top of mind awareness comes from.
#4 – Does it effectively communicate with your customers?
A successful loyalty program offers an automated digital system that gathers information and sends customized contacts with the right message, at the right time. Additionally, the system should offer time-sensitive promotions, free gifts, contests, as well as customized loyalty certificates.
#5 – Does it help you build long term loyalty?
Successful loyalty programs should ensure the customer is earning towards future rewards at all times. Build a program that surprises and rewards customers, with a customized gift they find valuable.
#6 – Does it allow you to stand out from your competitors?
Successful loyalty program should create a HUGE advantage over your competition. If your program is from the factory or the same as the competitor down the street, how does that make your dealership any different? The main goal with a successful loyalty program is to offer your customers another reason to buy from you, not your competitors. Also, if your program does not offer territory exclusivity — ask for it.
In closing, a truly successful loyalty program should contain a valuable mix of hard benefits (points, rewards, and discounts at the dealership) as well as soft, lifestyle benefits (outside of the dealership) that promote your long term goals, as well as offer short term rewards. Today’s customers are expecting more than ever and if we can have the courage to be different and offer our customers a program over flowing with value (even outside of the dealership), they will talk about us, spend money with us and remain fiercely loyal to us.