10 Car Dealer Tips for Retaining Lifelong Customers

Is your repeat business lackluster or nonexistent? Use these 10 car dealer tips to better strategize how quality service can work for you   

Is your repeat business lackluster or nonexistent? Use these 10 car dealer tips to better strategize how quality service can work for you 

10 Car Dealer Tips for Retaining Lifelong Customers


Garnering brand loyalty begins and ends with a dedication to customer service excellence. For those who are looking to increase repeat business and build a referral base, we’ve put together our best car dealer tips for creating lifelong customers.

The reasons why consumers decide to stick with a particular brand or business go beyond the simple offerings of good pricing and incentives (although these are still important). Create a business ethos that focuses on customer service and maintaining long-term relationships for years to come. While your working on it, try out these car dealer tips to see what works best for your company.

10 car dealer tips for retaining lifelong customers

1. Offer complete leadership transparency

As the owner or general manager of a dealership, an effort should be made to connect with customers on a personal level. Staying behind the curtain is expected of higher level executives, but stepping out to speak with a customer one-on-one can make a big difference in how they perceive the business as a whole. Also, it makes your customers feel important, valued, and confident in their relationship with your dealership.

2. Develop loyalty incentives and reward programs

Many dealerships will offer a rewards program for their customers. Whether it be discounted pricing for immediate family members, free oil changes for life, special offerings for referrals, or incentives to trade-in, car dealers need to focus on coming up with unique packages for their customers. Delivering exceptional value will keep your client base growing and thriving over time.

The popular promotion of offering free oil changes “for life” is a great way to develop a relationship with your customers so that after visiting you several times a year, they’ll naturally come back to you when they decide to buy their next car.

3. Keep in contact long after the sale

Once the customer has driven off the lot in his new car, it’s expected that the salesperson will contact the customer in a few weeks to ask about his experience. But, after those initial follow-ups, customers usually receive only promotional emails every once in a while and an occasional friendly hello when they arrive at the service department.

There is more to be done after the sale. Consistent social media interaction, quarterly check-ups, newsletters and more can help maintain a strong relationship.

4. Make the small stuff count

Customers take notice of the small details, especially when a dealership cares enough to take notice, too. For example, providing a waiting room space specifically for children to play is an excellent way to demonstrate dedication to service. There’s nothing a parent loves more than bringing their children along for errands and discovering a productive way to keep their kids occupied. Try to brainstorm the needs of clients, however small you might think they are, and figure out ways to meet those needs in unique fashion.

5. Show that it’s not all about the money

Consider developing a monthly newsletter filled with useful content and no promotional material. New customers can opt-in to receive the subscription, which can touch on hot topics like car maintenance tips, dealership events, and auto industry news.

6. Display timeliness of services and repairs

Your car service department should coordinate by delivering repairs or maintenance work on time. Also, these check-ins provide an excellent opportunity to show a little extra care by throwing in free tire rotations, fluid fill-ups, vacuuming, etc. You can also set up a reminder service, notifying your clients when an oil change is necessary.

7. Offer convenience and availability

Hours of operation should be optimized for customer convenience and ease of availability. List your staff members’ information online so people can easily find and contact them with questions or concerns. Seek to make your dealership accessible for your customers. Keep an eye out for customer reviews online, and see if there are any patterns in complaints (or compliments!). If possible, address them online so that future prospects know you value your reputation and are willing to do anything to please customers.

8. Remember dates

Every customer enjoys being recognized by their friends and family during birthdays, anniversaries and special holidays. What about receiving a happy birthday from your car dealer? That one will usually take the cake, especially with a personalized note from the sales rep or general manager. Just remember: these courtesies can easily turn sour if filled with advertising or promotional content. Leave that stuff for later and focus on developing a good impression.

9. Provide cleanliness and friendliness

Having a clean and respectable office environment can make a big difference to a customer. The dealership should be presentable and each staff member focused on helping visitors find answers to questions. Seeing a coffee stain on the floor shows a lack of professionalism and attention to detail. Also, having a designated secretary to field any walk-ins and direct them to the right person is a nice touch.

10. Be active in your community

Demonstrating a commitment to the local community also communicates a broader sense of relationship building and business ethics. Customers living in the community are more apt to do business with dealerships that support local charities, school districts, and fundraisers.

Raise standards for service and your retention will raise, too

Overall, dealerships need to focus their energies towards creating an atmosphere of service excellence. Remember that quality customer care has more to do with depth than width –– the small things can make a big difference for long-term retention and lifelong business relationships. These car dealer tips can help to get you started in the right direction and to think outside the box regarding retention strategy.

What’s your opinion about retaining customers? Are there any tips we left out? Let us know in the comments and share your thoughts!

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Ty W.
Ty W.

Ty was born and raised in the automotive world. He's an enthusiastic expert who writes exquisite content about cars, automotive sales, and dealership best practices. When not writing for AutoRaptor, you'll find Ty on the golf course.