Move cars off the lot faster than you can drive them
Stop sending boring email blasts to your entire database—effective automotive customer retention strategies create a more personal experience
You’re pretty proud of your dealership’s marketing and advertising efforts. You’ve got that clever commercial running right now, targeted Facebook ads, a responsive design website, and you have a big holiday sale coming up soon. As far as attracting new customers goes, you’re nailing it.
There’s just one question, though: when’s the last time you gave some real thought to your automotive customer retention strategies? Are you so fixated on new business that you’re ignoring the customers you’ve already reeled in?
It’s time to readjust your priorities. The general rule is that it costs 6 to 10 times more to acquire a new customer than it does to retain an existing one. Your existing customer base is 60-70% more likely to make a purchase, while only 5 to 20% of people will become new customers.
Loyal customers are the lifeblood of your dealership, so it would be wise if you took some quality time to think strategically about how to keep those customers.
Improve automotive customer retention strategies by figuring out who your customers are
What are you doing right now to retain customers? Do you mail out a quarterly dealership newsletter? Send occasional email blasts to your entire database about upcoming sales? The good news is that you’re trying; the bad news is that you’re not spending enough time on automotive customer retention strategies.
Challenge yourself to think deeper about who your customers actually are. Create unique profiles for groups of people that exhibit similar qualities and send out targeted messages that address their individual needs. For example, here are four different profiles you could use in your strategy:
Loyal Larry is that guy who knows everyone in your dealership. He asks you how your mom is doing, will wave you down in the grocery store to say hello, and brings in all his friends and family members when they’re in the market for a new vehicle. He’s been coming to your dealership for years and values that relationship.
Trendy Tara bought her most recent vehicle from you, but that doesn’t mean she’ll be back again. She’s really tuned into trends and the brands that other people are talking about. She has never bought the same vehicle make twice, and there’s a good chance you’ll be the next brand she leaves in the dust for the newest, coolest model.
Committed Clyde is the opposite of Trendy Tara. Clyde is a brand loyalist. He grew up with his dad driving a certain brand, and when he got his license, he went out and bought that brand as well. When his kids are old enough to drive, there’s a good chance they’re going to commit to the brand, too.
Local Linda buys from your dealership because it’s convenient. You’re located near her home or office, and it’s just easier for her if she needs to pop in for a quick oil change. She’s happy with your service, but if she moved or got a new job, you might never see her again because she hasn’t really established any personal connection with your team.
Customize messages that will resonate with specific personas
Once you’ve identified your existing customer base and what’s driving them (no pun intended), you need to figure out how to talk to them. Strong automotive customer retention strategies consider the customer’s state of mind, what stage of life they’re in, and how they prefer to be communicated with.
According to Omnichannel research, companies with multi-channel engagement have an 89% retention rate versus 33% for businesses without it. That means picking up the phone, sending e-mails, incorporating live chat onto your website, posting on social media, and texting customers are practices that everyone in your dealership needs to be comfortable with.
That doesn’t mean all of those channels are going to work for every targeted group. Because Trendy Tara may be a bit younger and tech savvy, the best way to reach her could be via text and social media. However, Committed Clyde might be a bit older and respond well to personalized emails and phone calls. Think about that before reaching out to any existing customers or creating a drip campaign—you want to get the most bang for your buck and shouldn’t waste time on communications that will get ignored or deleted.
In the end, customer retention in the automotive industry is all about creating a memorable, enjoyable experience. Pay attention to detail, show your customers that you care about them, prioritize exceptional service, and hopefully, you’ll find those customers returning time and time again.