Surefire Tactics For Improving Dealership Customer Retention
Key Take Aways
- Dealerships are missing out on as much as $99 billion in annual service revenue due to lack of customer retention.
- 30% of consumers take their vehicles to dealerships for repairs, while about 50% of consumers get repairs done at independent repair outlets, tire stores and quick-lube shops.
- Consumers who were given an introduction to the service department at the time they purchased their vehicle were 1.5 times more likely to return in the next 12 months.
- Another great way to get customers in for service is to send them a vehicle health alert text message when the service light in their car comes on.
- Safety recall alerts sent to customers via text message greatly improve the likelihood customers will see them and schedule an appointment.
Surefire Tactics For Improving Dealership Customer Retention
Dealerships are missing out on as much as $99 billion in annual service revenue due to lack of customer retention. Only about 30% of consumers take their vehicles to dealerships for repairs, while about 50% of consumers get repairs done at independent repair outlets, tire stores and quick-lube shops. The remaining 20% use the services of retail stores, body shops and specialist businesses.
Create Opportunities For Customers To Make Service Appointments
While these numbers may seem imposing, dealers do possess the power to turn the tide in their favor. Consumers who were given an introduction to the service department at the time they purchased their vehicle were 1.5 times more likely to return in the next 12 months. However, only about 41% of buyers were shown the service department and given the rundown on how to schedule an appointment online.
Why not send an automated text message to every customer who purchases a vehicle to make an appointment with the service department to go over their new car’s features? This is an excellent way to demonstrate how valuable your service staff is to them.
Follow it up with text messages reminding them their vehicle is due for its first service and recommended manufacturer visits. This strategy applies to declined services, as well. Some customers do not even realize the services were declined, because someone else picked up their vehicle or the advisor did not alert them. A text message with a gentle reminder of the services that were declined can remedy this situation.
Yet another way to get customers in for service is to send them a vehicle health alert text message when the service light in their car comes on (currently only available for FCA dealerships). The automated message can let them know exactly which issue needs to be addressed. Not only does this tactic create more service appointments, it also gives customers a sense of gratitude toward the dealership for looking out for them.
Safety recalls are a significant source of revenue for dealerships, but they often get overlooked – either by service staff that miss them or customers who receive notice via snail mail and toss it in the trash. Safety recall alerts sent to customers via text message greatly improve the likelihood customers will see them and schedule an appointment. A good recall alert protocol will follow a certain process:
- Search the dealership database for all customers
- Cross-reference all customers in the database for open recalls
- Generate a detailed report containing the number and type of open recalls available
- Give staff the ability to filter according to which types of recall codes to send text notifications out to, the quantity of sends and frequency
Let Customers Know They Will Get A Fair Price
Dealerships have gotten a bad reputation for allegedly overcharging customers for maintenance and repairs. This misconception has driven many consumers to seek out operations that claim to charge less.
You can change customers’ perception of your service staff’s honesty by showing them what needs to be fixed on their vehicle. When they see the issues firsthand, it will convince them the recommended repairs are legitimate. Plus, it will build their trust in your dealership and let them know your operation is fair in everything including the prices you charge. But you cannot take every customer into the service bay, so how can you accomplish this?
By recording and sending videos, in which a service technician points out the work that needs to be done, builds trust. They can be sent via text, a communication method people prefer because it is non-intrusive and they can check it and respond whenever is most convenient for them.
Make it easy and convenient for customers to pay their bill by giving them the option to do so from anywhere, via their mobile device or desktop. They can also review their invoice online, allowing them to make inquiries of the service advisor overseeing their repair job even if they cannot pick it up until after the advisor leaves for the day.
Keep Customers Informed About The Status Of Their Vehicle
People’s lives are busier than ever. They want to check off the items on their daily to-do list with efficiency. This includes being kept up-to-date about the status of their vehicle when it is at your dealership. However, it should be done in a way that does not interfere with their day.
Automated texts that give them the latest updates are an ideal solution. Staying in touch with them from the beginning to the end of their visit will further strengthen the sense of trust and appreciation they feel for your service department.
- Appointment reminders help reduce no-shows.
- Service advisor welcome message lets them know your advisor is happy to help.
- Vehicle status updates tell them you are still working on their vehicle, but everything is going as planned.
- Ready for pickup alerts assure customers their vehicle will be ready and waiting for them when they return.
Increase Engagement With Service Appointment Follow-Up
Your efforts to improve customer retention should not stop when they pick up their vehicle. Instead, keep the communication going. Service follow-up and thank you text messages show your appreciation of their business.
Let them know the experience they have with your service department is important to you. You can do this by asking them to complete a customer satisfaction index (CSI) survey via an automated text message. This serves three purposes: engendering their goodwill toward your dealership, increasing the chance they will complete a survey and improving your CSI scores.
Small gestures count, as well. Customers will appreciate and remember text messages you send to wish them happy birthday. Expressing congratulations on the anniversary of the date they purchased their vehicle via text serves to remind them of regularly scheduled maintenance their vehicle may need.
Start Recovering Lost Service Department Revenue By Retaining Customers
TEXT2DRIVE™, a full-fledged communications platform designed specifically for automotive dealerships, gives you all of the aforementioned capabilities. The platform capitalizes on consumers’ desire for non-intrusive communication.
While TEXT2DRIVE is a sophisticated solution, it is also user-friendly, making it easy for even your least tech-savvy employees to master. Videos of recommended repairs are a snap to record and send, and automated text messages can be personalized using pre-existing templates.
The platform streamlines internal and external communication, giving customers a superior experience every time they work with you. The result? Customers will feel a sense of loyalty and trust towards your service department, increasing the likelihood they will return for maintenance and repairs again and again.
Take a test drive today to see TEXT2DRIVE in action.