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Make Your Dealership Great Again - How To Bring Back Customers?

April 25, 2022
Make your dealership great again | How To Bring Back Customers?

Did you know that the average dealership retains less than 25% of their clients over the average buying cycle? The problem is, if you lose 20% of your clients in a year, you have to add 30% more new clients just to grow 10% in sales. This approach needs to be followed aggressively and consistently, to have effective retention and win back strategy for growth. Remember, it doesn’t matter how many awards your dealership has won for customer satisfaction. Every dealership has clients who decide to buy or service their vehicle elsewhere. It is imperative to stay on top of this problem, or your competitors will soon snag those customers permanently.

Why customers stop doing business with your dealership?

Every dealership has an attrition challenge – attrition is the number of customers who stop doing business with the dealership. Until you identify how many of your clients are no longer actively dealing with your service department or have stopped buying altogether, you can’t begin to improve on that figure.  Identifying the percentage and which clients no longer actively do business with you, is the first step to reducing your attrition rate.

average dealership retains less than 25% of their clients over the average buying cycle

Most people stop doing business with your dealership for the following reasons:

  • They are dissatisfied.  Consumers don’t want to wait anymore at dealerships. Be it waiting for salespeople to attend to them, or paperwork to come through, they just don’t wish to waste time at dealerships. The problem is most unhappy customers will never say why they stopped buying or servicing from you – they just leave.
  • The client’s situation has changed to the point they no longer can benefit from your dealership. They could have moved or their lifestyle has changed.
  • They stop servicing temporarily because there could have been a time when it was more feasible to go to an independent shop or competing dealer. And they never got around to dealing with you again! Once a customer stops dealing with you, no matter how valuable the product or service, they tend to fall into a different buying pattern.

The good news is a chunk of all lost customers didn’t leave for an irreparable reason. You can instantly take action and get a good percentage of those people back. However, you can’t do it using the same old school marketing that hasn’t brought them back up to this point or did not retain them to begin with.

But remember this, when they do come back, they tend to come one of your best, most frequent and loyal customers. They can turn into one of the best sources of referrals. Here are some facts about “unhappy customers”:

  • The average dealership will hear nothing from 96% of unhappy clients who had a bad experience.
  • Unhappy clients tend to take about bad experiences to least 9 other people. 13% of those unhappy former clients will relate their stories to more than 20 people.
  • For every complaint received, the average company has 26 clients with problems, six of which are “serious.”
  • Of the clients who register a complaint, up to 70% will do business with your dealership again if their complaint is resolved. That figure goes up to 95% if the client feels the problem was resolved quickly.
  • 68% of clients who stop doing business with you do so because of company indifference. They felt their needs weren’t being taken care of.
The average dealership will hear nothing from 96% of unhappy clients who had a bad experience

How to get back lost customers?

1. Ensure that customers “don’t waste time” in your dealership

Customers don’t want to visit keep visiting your dealership multiple times. Earlier, they did so, to check out vehicle makes and models, then scheduled appointments for test drives, completed paperwork, and finally collected the vehicle. But buying behavior and patterns have undergone a drastic change in the last couple of years.

It is time to make the car buying process hassle-free and smooth. Moving a major part of the car buying process online ensures that customers only have to come in during a certain part of the sales process. Modera Salesfront is the ideal CRM software you need to improve conversion rate, while automating processes.

You can monitor and respond to leads anytime, anywhere, while generating follow-up alerts at the same time. Offer customers a comprehensive inventory that is updated on a regular basis – operate price lists, standard and optional equipment, accessories, and technical data. You can even manage the test drive process expertly by updating cars in the fleet, allotting test drives for customers, securing test drive permits, collecting digital signatures, etc. This software lets you fine-tune the process of selling pre-owned cars as well.

When customers try to get in touch with you, they need to hear back quickly, so make use of the pre-configured chat solution. Ensure that customers don’t have to come in for clearing up some confusion that could have been easily resolved online.

2. Adopt a more customer-centric approach

Once you know that your dealership is losing customers, it is time to examine the reason. While there is a multitude of legitimate reasons, why a customer might leave such as relocation, changed automotive needs, etc. your self-evaluation should focus on your dealership’s overall relationship with the customer base.

For instance, do you connect with prospective car buyers online before they visit the dealership? Is the buying process simple and stress-free?  Does your dealership offer a vehicle maintenance plan with customized solutions that are attractive to customers? Enhance your customer experience and discerning car buyers will take notice. Here too, a robust CRM solution can be your savior.

If you want customers to come back, make sure the special

3. Focus on “top lost customers”

When some segments of your dealership’s customer base are missing in action, it is time to sharpen your focus. Track long-term repurchase trends to determine your highest-grossing customers in the last few years. Modera Salesfront can be of great use, as it efficiently stores data, so you can access it, as and when required. It helps monitor buying behavior, so you can target prior car buyers for a customer retention campaign featuring exciting new product offerings, F&I upgrade options, timely service reminders, and other marketing materials. You can easily create personalized and eye-catching offers for customers – these offers can be emailed directly to customers from the CRM software.

4. Give customers an incentive to come back

If customers have strayed, don’t waste time blaming your staff. Instead, focus on a way to make them come back. Consider giving inactive customers a special discount – a lucrative deal goes a long way to entice people to buy.

You can send this campaign directly to inactive customers. Since you are segmenting your audience via a CRM software, you can personalize the message for this specific group. For example, send a promotion via text message or email that says – we haven’t seen you in a while. Do drop by for a special early bird offer or an extended warranty being offered for a limited period.

If you want customers to come back, make sure the promotion is worth their time. Personalize the campaign according to your target audience. Remember, you might not make as much money on the first return sale, but through marketing efforts you can hopefully turn inactive customers into repeat customers once again.

By getting in touch and communicating with the right targeted group, you can rest assured that a certain percentage will immediately start coming to your dealership once again. Regular communication is a must, so you can build a personal relationship. Don’t reach out to them only when you have to boost sales – keep in touch frequently, but refrain from bombarding them with texts and emails.

5. Change the way you do business

Another reason why customers want to spend less time in a dealership is because of the Covid-19 pandemic. They are apprehensive of spending too much time in closed spaces. In fact, the pandemic cause ecommerce industry to boom, as it became the only option to search, conduct research, and buy.

Your target market spends more time on websites and social networks. This is why it is essential that dealerships establish and enhance their presence there. A minimum investment of time and money in social networks can help you gain a larger market share. But you should also make the most of the information you already have about your customers (previous services, vehicle mileage, hours used in the case of equipment, etc.) to offer services they may not even know they need.

A dealer management system (DMS) is a must in this case. It comes with various service marketing features to offer scheduled or preventive services based on the mileage of your customers’ vehicles. You can even offer seasonal maintenance services before holidays. It is imperative that you take a look at your customer portfolio and use this information strategically. Offer these services before they migrate to your competition.

In fact, you can structure a complimentary maintenance plan as well. Remember, it has nothing to do with selling the first vehicle, but it matters when it comes to building relationships. It improves the chances of those first-timers becoming repeat customers. You may not be able to control your customers’ repurchase intentions, but you can certainly influence them. With a dealer-owned promotional maintenance plan, you can bring back customers to your dealership for service requirements.

Ensure that customers don’t waste time in your dealership

6. Offer special advantages

For customers these days, it is all about benefits that save both time and money. To ask customers to call or visit the dealership to schedule a workshop appointment is to send them to the competition. It is time to take customer requirements into account, and act accordingly:

  • Let customers’ book appointments from their home, office, or anywhere else. The scheduling feature of the CRM software comes in handy.
  • If the customer who brought in their vehicle has to go elsewhere, offer alternate transportation in advance.
  • The customer can’t come to the dealership for servicing their vehicle. So create a system to pick up, repair, and return the vehicle.
  • Use the chat feature in your CRM to answer questions of customers. Provide customers with self-service access to their account information through a customer portal.
  • When customers arrive at your dealership for service or repair work, offer a comprehensive vehicle inspection report, totally free of cost. You can use an electronic Vehicle Health Check system to help technicians identify more repair work and generate a report quickly. Provide customers with an informative, easy-to-understand and professionally presented vehicle inspection report. It allows them to better understand the recommended repair work

These strategies not only strengthen the relationship with your existing customers, but they are equally effective for attracting new ones.

7. Track and report sales metrics

If you can’t measure sales metrics, you can’t improve on sales tactics. An automotive CRM software helps the dealership to monitor service sales metrics. It keeps tabs on the number of vehicle inspections, dollars identified and sold per vehicle, sales and conversion rates. Make sure the reason for any loss in sales, is clearly identified. Having access to comprehensive real-time analytics gives you the key insights to increase staff performance, sales closure and profits.

You can use this data to train sales personnel on how to shorten car selling transaction time. They should be aware of this simple fact – don’t make customers wait when the sale has commenced. Customers should only be asked to come in, when a specific part of the buying process can’t be completed online. For instance, if a customer comes in for a test drive, they shouldn’t be made to wait. Or if they have come to pick up their vehicle, ensure the paperwork is in order, and the car is ready!

8. Create a “we fixed it” campaign online

Customers stop buying for a reason. To win customers back, you need to figure out why they left in the first place. As mentioned, a customer leaves most often because they were treated poorly or dissatisfied with the product or service. If you are unsure about what caused them to stop doing business, monitor review sites and social media closely. Consider asking customers to complete a survey for feedback. Try to spot common factors that caused customers to jump ship. Include questions like – did wait times make customers unhappy? Was the customer service lacking?

Once you identify the problem, work to correct it. Once corrected, spin it into a marketing campaign. When customers see that you have admitted to mistakes honestly, they are bound to appreciate it.

To win customers back, you need to figure out why they left in the first place.

For example, maybe a customer didn’t feel important, appreciated, valued or acknowledged by your dealership. However, it is vital to emphasize that your team didn’t intentionally offend or dissatisfy that client. Let your marketing campaign talk about how wait times were too long, guide them how they can complete a major part of the car buying process online, etc.

9. Don’t forget about customers who have moved

If customers have stopped coming to your dealership because they have relocated, or their situation has changed so they no longer can benefit from what your dealership offers, don’t fret! You can still ask them for referrals. They obviously have a great deal of respect and goodwill for your dealership.

By merely contacting them and honestly expressing your concern about their well-being, you position yourself perfectly. If they tell you they no longer can use your product or service, say that is fine. Next, request them to recommend the dealership to friends, family members and associates who can benefit from what you do. Most of them will oblige your request.

10. Leverage expertise

Product quality has improved considerably across the board within the retail automotive industry. Now, it is more difficult than ever to utilize product offerings as a brand differentiator. Dealerships have to think outside the box and seek alternative sources to gain competitive advantage. 

Whether it is by offering a creative form of entertainment while customers wait or honor competitors’ coupons, make your dealership stand out from the crowd, enticing lost customers to reconsider. When you begin campaigns to retain customers and attract new ones, it is necessary to offer a proposal that competes with the offering of independent workshops – price and convenience. Focus on the benefits of being an official dealership; here are a few pointers:

  • The OEM’s quality certification.
  • Expertise of your technicians.
  • Investment in training, speed, customer satisfaction campaigns, etc.

If you concentrate on these issues, it can tip the scales in your favor when the customer has to choose where to take their vehicle.

Don’t wait for customers to arrive at your dealership.

Don’t wait for customers to arrive at your dealership. Take the initiative, go find opportunities, and stay ahead of your competition. The more connected customers feel to your dealership, the more chances there are of them coming back. Many will start quickly buying and referring again because they never really wanted or intended to stop. So reward them for your lack of initiative in the past – do something special and preferential for them as a “welcome back” reward or gesture of appreciation. Use Modera Salesfront, as it is an incredible way to retain customers, because it reduces “wait time” and speed ups car selling transaction time. Moreover, it helps to customize offers and maintain regular communication with customers.