Over the last twenty years there has been a strong focus by both manufacturers and dealers to improve customer loyalty.

But, dealerships across the nation continue to lose customers.

The customer experience has improved greatly, but customer retention has stayed about the same.

Manufacturers and dealers have experimented with a variety of marketing methods, but not one has solved the problem.

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And I’m not surprised.

Here’s Why Retention Numbers Continue to Drop

Dealerships retain less than 25% of their customers over an average buying cycle because customers are no longer loyal to a specific make. In addition, vehicle owners aren’t buying vehicles as frequently as they used to and they’re driving older vehicles for longer periods of time.

The reality is since vehicle owners aren’t in the market as frequently as they used to be (and even when they are in the market, they conduct most of their research online), dealers see their customers less – which restricts their ability to establish meaningful relationships.

If vehicle owners are no longer loyal to the brand a dealer sells and they’re holding onto their vehicles for longer, then the best and really only way to drive those customers to your dealership is through your service department!

The fact is, the likelihood of a customer purchasing their next vehicle at your dealership is dependent on their relationship with your service department.

Digital marketing now influences over 60% of post-purchase service decisions.

The biggest opportunity for dealers is to utilize digital marketing for their fixed ops. This combination can strengthen customer retention, bring new customers into your dealership more frequently, increase automotive repair orders, and lead to more vehicle sales over time.

“Nearly 25% of all automotive searches are related to parts, service, and maintenance.”

The thing is, the digital influence is most powerful when it comes to post purchase service and nearly 25% of all automotive searches are related to parts, service, and maintenance.

Because digital is so important to reaching vehicle owners post-purchase and service is so critical to retaining customers, the best way to increase customer loyalty, revenue, and sales is to utilize the power of a service-facing digital campaign strategy.

Have an Attack & Defend Strategy

One of the reasons digital marketing is so critical to service departments is that it allows them to digitally attack and defend against competing dealerships and, most importantly, third-party mechanics.

The average vehicle owner takes their vehicle for service 2.7 times per year, with each visit averaging around 178 dollars. But only 30% of these service visits are conducted at a dealership – and only 17% of those visits occur at the dealership where the vehicle was purchased.

Vehicle owners turn to third-party mechanics because of two key reasons:

  1. They perceive third-party mechanics to be cheaper
  2. They perceive third-party mechanics to be more convenient

People continuously search online for vehicle service near them and they’re turning to third-party mechanics for their needs.

Vehicle owners value dealerships for their high-quality service and knowledgeable staff, but they don’t trust dealerships to provide them with the best prices or the most time-efficient service.

Top 5 Reasons Why Service Customers Do Visit Your Dealership…

  • They know my vehicle
  • Certified/highly qualified technicians
  • Knowledgeable staff
  • Use of genuine parts, tools, and diagnostic equipment
  • Explain services rendered/comfortable waiting room and services

Top 5 Reasons Why Service Customers Don’t Visit Your Dealership…

  • Total cost is not reasonable
  • They will over charge me
  • Unreasonable labor charges
  • Unreasonable parts charges
  • Distance/Location

Get More Traffic to Your Service Department

Service Combat Strategy is a solution to the problem of customer retention and independent repair shops.

This strategy works because of two main reasons:

  1. It addresses vehicle owners’ main concerns with dealerships and their service departments.
  2. It reaches consumers at their highest point of intent and delivers a super customer experience online.

Bottom line – it’s faster and easier for the customer to get exactly what they want, when they want it and how they want it.

It all starts with paid search & Facebook advertisements.

These ads are highly targetable! They can be the answer to search engine requests, targeted to customers in your database, and/or displayed to similar audiences through Customer Match.

They are specifically targeted to reach current and potential customers who are seeking service that your dealership can provide. If vehicle owners are searching for service near them, then you will be the answer to their search.

Dynamic landing pages create a user experience that compels people to take action now

Once your prospect clicks, these highly targeted ads send the viewer to a customized dynamic service landing page.

Here, they can see your service hours, location, get directions, ask a question, schedule a service, and more.

Most importantly, they find the information that directly addresses what they were searching for. This drastically reduces the bounce rate… increases your Google quality score… decreases your cost per click and dramatically increases conversions.

This strategy is better than any owner loyalty program my stores have used in the past. I’ve actually replaced all our owner loyalty programs with this Service Combat Strategy because it has increased service revenue and helps retain customers, but these benefits correlate directly to vehicle sales.

This is because, as stated previously, the likelihood of a customer purchasing their next vehicle from your dealership is dependent on their relationship with your service department.

And, because these interactions directly relate to future buying behavior, the more positive interactions a customer has, the more money you’ll make, and the more cars you’ll sell.

Your technicians are more highly qualified, have access to higher quality parts, and have an intimate knowledge of your customers’ vehicles. Service customers know and believe this. You must make it easy on them to choose your dealership. This starts online.