Top 5 Customer Retention Strategies for Your Dealership

In 2019, approximately 17 million vehicles were purchased in the United States.

Successful dealerships continuously work on mastering the balance of drawing new (conquest) consumers to their showroom and cultivating strong relationships with current customers.

Customer Retention Strategies You Should Implement

Retaining profitable relationships with current customers is easier than trying to find new ones — which costs five times more.

Boost sales for your dealership by implementing the following top five customer retention strategies:

1. Find a Balance with Sales and Service Departments

According to a recent study, “customers who develop a habit of maintaining their vehicle at a dealership are 86 times more likely to purchase their next vehicle from you.”

Your sales and service departments need to work together with a cohesive balance. Both departments must equally promote the other department to customers.

Make sure customers are aware of all the services offered by your service department. Purchasing a vehicle from your showroom doesn’t automatically mean that the customer will bring their car back to your service center for regular maintenance and repairs.

Tips to Promote Cohesiveness Between Departments and Customers

  • Content — Your website should include information detailing your service center that is prominently visible to visitors. Write blogs showcasing the service team sharing information on simple customer vehicle care tips.
  • Sales Process —  Encourage the sales team to inform the customer about the services that are offered by the service department. It will increase the chances of them bringing their vehicle in for maintenance or repairs.
  • Paid Search —  Utilize customer match strategies to combine offline and online data in re-engagement campaigns via shopping, search, display, Gmail, and YouTube ads.

Using Customer Match Strategies

Use these customer match strategies for both sales and service ad content to continue to reach new customers and retain current ones to boost profitability.

Customer match uses data that consumers have shared with you to deliver highly targeted ads to those individuals and others like them who are active in online searches.

It is important to use this advertising tool with paid search ads so that you can improve awareness of your dealership and increase conversion rates. Consider the following venues for targeting audiences with customer match:

  • Shopping/Search —  These ad campaigns can be augmented by bid modification based on data from your customers’ activities.  
  • Gmail —  Customized ads can be displayed at the top of your customers’ inboxes to ensure a more personalized experience from customer data.
  • YouTube —  You can expand your reach on YouTube by targeting potential customers with similar online data as your high purchasing customers.
  • Display —  Personalized ads can be used on the Google Display Network to expand your reach to current and similar customers.

Create high-quality ad content that promotes your vehicles and service department offers. Then use customer match strategies to deliver personalized, targeted ads that can expand your customer reach.

PRO TIP: Do not limit your customer match strategies to display and paid social. Customer match with paid search is your most effective retention marketing tool.

2. Utilize Customer Relationship Management

Effectively communicating with customers and potential leads is an important factor in boosting sales for your dealership.

Using the right customer relationship management software (CRM) will enable your team to communicate better with customers and improve your retention efforts.

You can enhance the professional relationship you have with your customers by using CRM software because you can use it to analyze a customer’s history with your dealership. With the right software, inventory information, customer data, sales notes, and all interactions are integrated and available for use by your various teams.

Consider the following benefits for implementing CRM software to improve customer retention at your dealership:

  • Communication —  You can improve the customer experience by easily sharing new sales, offers, and specials via text or email, depending on preference. Positive interactions with your customers will increase the chances of them bringing their vehicles for servicing and buying from you again.
  • Personalization —  You can customize the way your teams communicate with customers because the software has captured all of your interactions with them. Personalized care will enhance the way customers see your dealership.
  • Support —  Customer support becomes easier because all contact with sales and service teams will be logged into the system, which increases the chances of resolving any issues and making sure that the customer feels valued.
  • Sales —  You can share offers, sales, and special events with CRM software through text or email to keep customers up to date and improve brand awareness.

3. Continually Manage Your Reputation and Monitor Reviews

A vital factor in customer retention is effectively managing your reputation and monitoring reviews. Approximately 91% of consumers read online reviews before making a purchase, and 84% “trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.”

Manage your reputation by providing excellence in customer service and ensuring that your omnichannel digital marketing strategy always reflects the brand image for your dealership. That means every tweet, blog post, YouTube video, paid search ad, website content, and your online digital footprint needs to represent your brand.

You cannot control reviews that consumers post about your dealership. However, it is important to have a monitoring strategy in place to see what people are saying and identify the best way to respond to reviews.

Consider implementing the following review monitoring strategies:

  • Online Tools — Use online tools like Google Alerts to set up alerts for online content posted about your dealership. You can set parameters for types of alerts and how often you’d like them emailed to you. 
  • Tracking — Work with your digital marketing agency to identify a monitoring service like Review Trackers. This subscription service enables you to track online reviews in their user-friendly dashboard and respond to them.
  • Google My Business — Create your free Google My Business Page to engage with customers and expand your consumer base through Google Search and Maps. People can post reviews on your page, and you can respond to them.

4. Cultivating a Positive Relationship with Your Customers

According to Forbes, “84% of companies that work to improve their customer experience report an increase in their revenue.”

Customer experience is an important factor in improving the retention rate at your dealership. Cultivate a positive relationship with your customers from their first touchpoint with your dealership.

There are various stages of the customer lifecycle. You need to make every effort to ensure that all stages deliver a more superior experience than they will get from your competition.

  • Find — The first impression from an ad, blog post, website, social media, or video
  • Assess — Initial contact with the customer by phone, email, text, or in person
  • Buy — Process where a lead makes a purchase and becomes a customer
  • Use — Sale is completed, and the customer enjoys driving their new vehicle
  • Bond — Customer loyalty is being cultivated through excellent service
  • Advocate — Customer shares positive reviews online and with other people

To improve the longevity of the customer lifecycle, every touchpoint must be positive and make a great impression. Consider the following examples of how you can make each stage of the customer lifecycle better:

  • First Impression — Create paid search ads that are relevant to consumer searches. Follow Google’s E-A-T guidelines when creating blog posts and website content. Follow the 80/20 Rule and engage more than you promote on social media. Create engaging videos for your YouTube Channel.
  • Initial Contact — Make sure the initial contact via phone, email, or in person is one that the customer will not forget because it was done with excellence.
  • Sales Process — Provide guidance during the sales process and help the customer every step of the way. Advise them about your service center and help them see the advantages of bringing their vehicle in for servicing.
  • After the Sale — Use your CRM software to stay in touch with your customers and send promotional information via text or email per their preferences.
  • Customer Loyalty — Stay in contact and wish them a Happy Birthday. Invite them to anniversary events and make sure you cultivate a positive relationship with them.
  • Customer Reviews — Monitor customer reviews online and make sure to respond to negative ones and try to resolve issues. Always be prompt in following up with issues the customer may have after the sale.

You want the customer to feel valued and know that you weren’t trying to simply sell a vehicle and be done with them. You want them to know that you are cultivating a customer relationship for life.

5. Create Loyalty Programs to Cultivate Engagement

Add value to your customers by creating a loyalty program. Any time you can add more value to your customers’ relationship with your dealership, you both win.

A loyalty program will be more successful and will increase customer engagement if you focus on ways to enhance their lives while continuing to build brand awareness for your dealership.

Consider the following factors when planning your loyalty program:

  • Added Value — Research to identify what types of rewards will interest your customers most. For example, a points program for vehicle repairs at your service center that allows customers to use them to purchase a new vehicle, or towards activities and entertainment options like cashing points in for gift cards.
  • Point Accumulation — Decide how customers will accumulate points for actions like the following: buying a vehicle, referring new customers who purchase, visits for maintenance or repairs at your service department, doing a customer testimonial video, and sharing your social media posts.

It is recommended that you should not offer incentives for or tell customers what to write when they post online reviews. This is especially important regarding your Google My Business Page.

For example, check out the review regulations from Google for your My Business Page. Google does not want businesses to flag reviews simply because they may be unflattering, but they can flag if reviews violate posting policies.

Implement These Customer Retention Strategies

Work with your digital marketing strategist to create an action plan for implementing these top five customer retention strategies to boost sales for your dealership.

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