More than ever dealers are realizing that retaining clients and giving them reasons to come back is important, if not their lifeline.  Building your business around 'the next up' is fine, as long as you are guaranteed to have a constant stream of people.  Challenges currently being faced at retail have shown most car dealers the holes in their business plan and more.

So you have a DMS, CRM, newsletters, coffee and an area for customers to sit down comfortably, and a staff.  None of those assets can bring in a guest except for the staff.  Salespeople can use all of those assets to more effectively bring in someone but don't fool yourself into thinking that because you have a CRM that has somehow magically data that doesn't get entered can turn into gold.  Or that you're using a eNewsletter (that almost all of your competition uses, in-brand and other brands) that differentiates you by chance.

When your customer that bought their car 1,000 miles ago comes in for that first (free) check-up, are you meeting them? Every time? Do you even know they're scheduled in tomorrow at 3:15? Are you sitting down with them and talking about their experience? Have you kept every follow-up commitment that you made? Overwhelmingly the simple 'bring them back' activities seem to be slipping…even in light of less traffic and fewer leads.

What type of events does your store promote and invite owners to? New owner or performance check events? Meet the management and service team? Learn about the technology in your car? What would bring you back to a retailer? Start thinking like the consumer or, if you can't, ask every customer. Invite your factory rep, or a designer, or a vendor for a product that your customers order plenty of and have a special reason for your guests to return, hopefully with a guest of their own and grow your business.

With one of the OEM's IM@CS has worked with this year, an endorsement of one of the prominent newsletter companies was made (by someone at the brand, not IM@CS or the vendor).  Through mystery shops and other activities, it has been easy to see that over 70% of the stores took that recommendation.  Now, if a shopper happens to submit leads to 2 or 3 stores in almost any area, they're bound to get the same exact (maybe one article is different) online newsletter from the stores including the ones they didn't buy from (which now-days could be all of them).

What are you saying?  What are you promoting?  It's not that you can trick a consumer into thinking that they're buying a car from a high-end department store rather than a dealership (although some of you do have a Nordstrom or Saks Fifth Avenue approach which is fantastic!), but you have to think about what sets you apart from the usual "what will it take….?".

What in your process sets you apart? What will people remember you by? That is why people come back time and again (and bring or refer friends), even if they have a change in their purchase plans. How professional is every aspect of what you do? Everyone that markets thinks their ideas are great until (1) someone says they're not, (2) their competition takes their customers or (3) they change it after they realize that it's stale.

Evaluate your website, your newsletters, your greeting process, your closing process, your email process (which should actually have a call in there before they get 4 or 5 emails) and everything else that a customer touches regularly. And hold your vendors and suppliers accountable, always! And remember why you're in business and how much fun it is to sell.  And bring 'em back!

Best practices: Professional Insight, Powerful Results