Customer retention is critical to the success of your dealership. However, with so many competing dealerships and a constantly evolving automotive market, it can be challenging to keep customers coming back. Learning to effectively follow up with customers has never been more important.
When a dealership doesn’t follow up, customers feel like they are just another sale, and that the dealership is not interested in maintaining a relationship with them. This lack of engagement can lead to customers feeling unvalued and even dissatisfied with their purchase, discouraging them from coming back for service or subsequent purchases.
Needless to say, follow-up is a big part of the buying experience, and nearly three quarters of drivers say they would visit their dealerships more often if the buying process was improved.
So how do you follow up with your customers to make sure they keep coming back to you?
The 2020 Dealership Service Retention Report
Insights from Nearly 2,000 Dealership Customers
1. Check in on customers’ satisfaction with a phone call
A simple phone call to see how customers feel about their purchase helps your dealership show you care about more than just making a sale and are willing to go the extra mile to ensure their satisfaction.
This type of follow-up can also provide an opportunity for your dealership to address any issues or concerns the customer may have. Addressing these concerns can help to prevent negative reviews, while genuine care can also help encourage word-of-mouth referrals.
Not to mention, hearing about their experience is the first step in building a customer feedback loop to help improve your results and reputation over time.
A phone call can be a more personal and effective way to communicate with a customer than an email or social media message, but email has its place too.
2. Emails offering helpful tips and information about their new car
Sending valuable tips and info about a customer’s new car can be a useful way for a dealership to provide extra value to the customer. These emails can include information on how to properly maintain and care for the car, as well as any relevant safety tips or features that the customer may not be aware of.
Email lets you clearly remind them of your tire service and oil change offerings as well, in a place where they can easily find the information if they need to.
More importantly, make sure these emails help the customer understand the service schedule for their car, based on their driving habits and the car itself. This type of follow-up helps to establish the dealership as a trusted resource for the customer and encourages them to return to the dealership for future service needs.
For building real relationships with customers, it’s worth the salesperson’s time to write these initial follow-up emails personally.
3. Invitations to dealership events and special offers
In your follow-up emails, you can occasionally include information about upcoming events or special offers at the dealership to keep the customer engaged and encourage them to visit the dealership again in the future. This could include things like exclusive sales, VIP events, or customer appreciation days, for starters.
Keep your upselling messaging to a minimum — a common rule of thumb is once a month or once a quarter, depending on how often you’re sending them valuable information in your non-sales emails. You don’t want customers to think you’re only trying to squeeze more money out of them.
Be sure to avoid accidentally sending them promotions for a new car when they just bought one! This should be obvious, but this kind of thing happens all the time, especially when using automated mailing services.
4. Send direct mail as a supplementary messaging strategy
Whether you’re following up to thank them for their purchase, or you’re promoting your dealership’s events and offers, direct mail is a powerful supplement to email and phone calls. Direct mail is more memorable than digital messaging like email or social media, and vehicle owners tend to trust it more.
We’ve gone into more depth about direct mail in the past, so won’t spend much time on it here. If you’re not using direct mail yet, consider this: direct mail gets a response rate as high as 37%. How does that compare to your current outreach?
5. Send surveys to gather feedback on the customer’s experience
We touched on the customer feedback loop above, but it bears repeating: survey your customers to gather feedback on their experience.
This can provide valuable insight into what the dealership is doing well and what areas may need improvement. By actively soliciting and responding to customer feedback, the dealership can show that it cares about the customer’s experience and is committed to making improvements.
Furthermore, simply asking them for feedback (whether a written survey or a phone call), provides a non-promotional way to further engage a customer without alienating them.
Consider a phone call follow-up first, then sending a direct mail or email survey if you can’t get ahold of them.
6. Provide incentives for customers to come back for service
When it comes time to send service reminders, customers generally prefer to receive a text. Adjusting to their communication channels is a great start, but no matter which communication channel you use, nothing makes your dealership more memorable than providing unique incentives customers can’t get elsewhere.
These benefits cover not only the repair and maintenance work that falls outside of warranty coverage, they support dealer-loyal roadside assistance and towing and other incidentals, which have proven to keep customers returning to dealerships offering DriveSure benefits.
Since vehicle owners automatically renew these benefits each time they come in for service at your dealership, it gives them a clear incentive to keep coming back for all their service needs.
DriveSure benefits give drivers the confidence that your dealership gives them the coverage they need, and that you have their back in ways no other dealership does.
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