Driving Dealership Profits: Smart Ways to Build Customer Loyalty
While it’s unlikely that vehicle service will ever be “fun and exciting,” dealerships continue to make great strides in bettering the experience for their customers. For most drivers, bringing a vehicle in for service, whether for routine maintenance or to resolve a larger issue, is a bit of an inconvenience. Drivers know it’s necessary, but it requires taking time out of their busy schedules to do it—and then there’s the impending bill.
Consider the following practical solutions to help improve your dealership’s service experience, thereby increasing your loyal customer base and ultimately your profits.
First-Class Customer Engagement
For dealerships, forming a relationship with the customer is critical—it begins the moment they walk in the door and should continue long after the sale is made. To stay engaged with your customers, consider creating a customer mailing list, which you can use to periodically send coupons and discounts on certain services. Stay top of mind by sending or emailing “date of purchase” anniversary cards to customers to make them feel more appreciated. Even better, the email list will allow you to kindly remind customers when they have routine service due, or to inform them of any deals or special offers with regard to new or used vehicles, and extended service contracts.
Flexible Payment Plans
Twenty-dollar oil changes are one thing, but let’s face it: Many drivers don’t have extra cash lying around for more extensive unexpected repairs. One way you can help ensure that customers come back to your dealership to service their repairs, and reduce their debt is by offering extended service contracts—and the opportunity to finance them—via installment payment plans. This gives dealerships an opportunity for post-vehicle sales, and it gives customers an additional flexibility with payment in the fact that they don’t have to pay in one lump sum. Plus, the more often your customers return to your dealership for those service repairs, the more likely they’ll come back to make future purchases of new cars or leases—a further boost to your overall profits.
More Comfortable Waiting Areas
Providing a relaxing space where customers can sit and wait for their vehicles can go a long way towards improving their experience. Aside from comfortable chairs and proper creature comforts, other ideas include complimentary snacks (i.e. fresh popcorn or doughnuts) and drinks (coffee, water, soda), free guest Wi-Fi and even big-screen TVs. A kid-friendly zone can also score points with families.
Solicit Customer Feedback
One aspect of customer service that many businesses overlook is the fine art of just listening. Listening to and caring about what the customers think. So, simply put, never stop asking your customers for feedback on what you can do to improve their experience at your dealership. Have a suggestion box set up in the waiting room and include anonymous feedback sections on your website and in your digital mailings.
If you want to keep customers driving into your service lane, you’ve got to differentiate your dealership from all others. Provide your customers with comfort and extra attention, offer flexible financial solutions and finally, listen to what they’re saying. Auto service repair is rarely a welcome experience, but with a little bit of effort you can make it a better one, for both your customers and ultimately your dealership’s bottom line.
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