The Road to ROI with F&I

Customer Retention: A Game Changing Metric

Posted by Vanguard Dealer Services on Sep 9, 2020 1:22:11 PM

customer-service-metricRepeat business is the proverbial 'bird-in-hand.' Your current customers are fertile ground for cross-selling. It's your golden opportunity to wow them beyond belief. Take the initiative, know your customers and understand their needs. Do this and your long-standing customers will remain loyal and your successes will continue to grow. 

This is no less the case in a car dealership and desk manager can certainly vouch for that. The same rings true in the finance office. If you sell a customer an extended warranty on today's deal, it's quite likely they'll pick one up next time they buy. 

So, it's easy to see how one sale can lead to many others. But before we start popping bottles of champagne, let's consider how this is accomplished. 

A Service-First Approach

The keyword in the phrase "Customer Service" is service. Let's start with the assumption that you  have an opportunity to sell products to a customer. Making the most of that opportunity entails exceptional start-to-finish service. But how do you ensure that everyone on your staff has the same commitment to stellar service that you have? 

Encourage excellent customer service using training. In our business, this can include role-playing exercises. Teaching opportunities might also include having senior salespersons engage as a 'closer' to have skilled hands to finalize the deal. It will allow the “green peas” to see and experience first-hand what excellent customer service skills look like. Word tracks are nice, but if they are canned, you won't get far. Not only will your novice salespeople not remember them verbatim, but canned phrases lack that authenticity required to ensure your customers feel that their needs are being met and exceeded.

Stop the clock. Start a real relationship.

Online marketing/sales staff know very well that stopping the clock is an essential component of answering a new lead. Sufficient and excellent are two distinct descriptors. A quick response shows genuine interest in earning a prospect's business and is considered sufficient. Going the extra mile may include personally typing a custom response to each client. Go even further by going out on the lot and examine the particular vehicle in which the prospect has shown interest. Take some pictures and text or email them over. This will show the client that not only are you serious about earning their business but that you are actually in possession of the vehicle they want and would be considered an excellent or exceptional response. 

Timing is everything. Take time to be on time. 

A timely response is the sharpest arrow in your quiver. Use it and you'll hit the target every time. Every dealership today, even the most rural mom and pop stores, have a customer relationship management ('CRM') tool of some kind that allows your salespeople to log information about their prospects. It includes the up-to-date status is of any particular deal. It also holds your sales staff accountable.

Be forewarned though, it can easily become a mountain of meaningless busy-work that can actually prevent your sales team from helping the customer that is in front of them now. As a manager or owner, the onus is on you to ensure that the CRM tool you use is one your staff are trained on and able to comfortably use. 

A properly logged follow-up call, with outreach made at the appropriate time, is a golden key. If a prospect tells you they're waiting for their tax return or until after they close on a mortgage to move forward, logging this date and following up with them will impress upon them the importance of your relationship and help you stand out.

Social proof: A trust-earning tool.

In our modern digital age, more of the sales process is happening before the customers actually visit your store. Buyers are spending up to 61% of their shopping time online. What's more, we're at a point where over 50% of buyers are making only one visit to a dealership prior to buying. 

How are they deciding where to go? It's part price, part selection, and most certainly reputation. Money talks and you-know-what walks. Consider giving your salespeople a dollar incentive per positive review they get from their clients. Effectively put a plan in place for salespeople to call sold customers from the past few months and ask them nicely for a Google review. Then, have them follow up on that call with an email linking directly to the page where they can post their review. 

You might even encourage them to print out their five-star reviews and have them neatly situated in a binder that they can show clients when they are in front of them or maintain them in a digital document so they can forward them to prospective online clients. 

The common theme across all of these strategies is being the best at customer service. Quick responses, ones that are on-time, reputation management and quality leadership are the  cornerstones that need be part of your strategy. Your closing ratio and monthly unit goal are important to you and we all know that these metrics are front-and-center. Achieve them using these approaches and reach new heights by being the best that you can be.

Contact us for more on how these strategies can be easily implemented at your dealership today.


Topics: Customer Service, Lifelong Customers, Dealership Customers, Customer Retention, customer experience

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