In order to have a successful car dealership, you need to keep your customers coming back for service and to purchase more vehicles.

It’s a matter of economics. It can cost up to five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain your current customer base.

The most successful dealerships have a mixture of both. They have a strong marketing plan to drive new customers and customer retention strategies to keep the customers they have. It’s the easiest way to build a thriving dealership.

Keep reading to learn the top customer retention strategies to keep sales strong at your dealership.

1. The Sales Process is Longer Than You Think

The mistake that many dealers and sales reps make is that they consider the sales process from the time a customer walks in the door until they drive off the lot in their new car.

The reality is that the sales process is much, much longer than that. You need to think long-term when it comes to your customers.

The best thing your sales reps can do is anticipate their needs as they adjust to their new car and act accordingly. For example, a sales rep can check in with the customer in a week to see how everything is going in the new car.

2. Work the Very Fine Details

Customer retention requires a shift in mindset. You have to think of the entire customer journey, from the first time they interact with your brand. This journey is a continuous journey and every interaction that your customers have with your dealership have to be world-class.

Just one poor experience with your company could result in that customer going to your competition.  

This starts from your marketing team to drive leads into the door, your sales team to help them find the best car, right through to operations, customer service, and service teams to help your customers keep the car in top shape.

Take a close look at the interactions your customers have with your company and refine the minute details to ensure your customers have a great experience every time.

3. Loyalty Building Marketing Campaigns

Your marketing efforts are heavily focused on getting new customers in the door. That’s not a bad thing, but are you doing anything now to inspire customer loyalty?

If the answer is no, then you should rethink your marketing strategy. Create an ongoing marketing campaign that builds that bridge.

For example, you can create referral campaigns, or develop a points system for customers to have service or purchase accessories at your dealership.

4. Show Your Customers How Much You Appreciate Them

The major difference between successful and struggling dealerships is that the successful dealerships know how to appreciate their customers.

It could be as simple as sending a thank you card or calling to check up on your customers months after they purchase a car. Treat every interaction as an opportunity to say thank you.

5. Manage Your Dealership’s Reputation

People talk. They sometimes will talk about a good experience, and they’re almost certain to talk about a bad customer experience.

What does that mean for your dealership? You need to know when your customers have had a poor experience and make sure you make that situation right.

For example, if you see that you have a bad review online, that can do a lot of damage to your reputation and keep people from coming the in the door.

The best thing that you can do is to acknowledge the customer’s remarks, take responsibility, and then offer a specific person they can contact to remedy the situation. The more responsive you are to the customer’s needs, the more likely they are to respect your business and remain a customer.

6. A Little Personalization Goes a Long Way

Personalization is incredibly important in customer outreach. Over 88% of marketers say that a personalized marketing campaign can improve results.

That’s because people have higher expectations of the companies they do business with. If you make them feel expendable, like any other customer, they’ll go to another dealership.

7. Use Automation As Much As Possible

It’s very difficult for your team to stay on top of managing new customers and customer retention strategies.

Automating simple outreach tasks can help your team save time. Something simple like automating emails and birthday messages to clients are a significant step in that direction.

8. Measure Everything

You simply cannot fix what you don’t measure. If you don’t measure your results, you will be lost. You’ll be putting your efforts in places that may or may not be working.

Instead, put systems in place that measure your results. That data will be invaluable when it comes time to make strategic decisions.

9. Make the Connection Between Sales and Service

At a lot of companies, departments often work in silos. This is common in auto dealerships, too. Sales doesn’t interact with the Service Department. Marketing doesn’t interact with Customer Service.

There’s so much going on at your dealership, it’s easy to go through the day and not have these crucial interactions.

The best place to start to break down silos is between sales and service. After all, your customer will interact with both of them.

A simple introduction by your sales rep to the service team can make a customer feel comfortable the next time they come in for service. That simple gesture will help you build customer loyalty and promote teamwork in your dealership.

Customer Retention Strategies for a Successful Auto Dealership

Your dealership can’t survive on customer acquisition alone. The cost per lead is too high to constantly try to get new customers in the door. You need to strike a balance between customer retention and new customer generation.

It requires a change in focus because you need to focus on the service and relationship-building aspects of your dealership to make sure your customer base feels valued.

You want to make sure that you have systems in place to reach them consistently and measure the success of your customer retention strategies.

Would you like to know how you can maximize the sales potential at your auto dealership? Take a look at this BDC training today.