October 22, 2020

A dealership is only as strong as its client base—have you been watching yours dwindle?

If customer retention is your aim, customer relations is your game.

It’s a universal (and heartbreaking) truth that losing customers is inevitable.

Afterall, a business is like a leaky bucket; no matter how much you fill it up, there will always be some that dribbles out.

This can happen for a surplus of reasons; I mean, people move, people die, people follow friends and family to new companies.

While many of the causes that draw customers away are inevitable, Client Insight Inc. revealed that the #1 reason a customer quits buying from a business isn’t because he no longer cares about its products, but because he doesn’t think it cares about him.

So, what’s the solution? How do you combat the issue of losing customers?

Well, the same way you fix the leaky bucket—you stop focusing on putting more in and instead focus on plugging the holes.

See, there was a time when, whether people liked your dealership or not, they were pretty much obligated to shop there because they didn’t have many other options. Now, things have changed.

In fact, there’s a slew of dealerships out there selling the same products as you are, while probably promising the same “once in a lifetime” deals, just waiting for one of your customers to accidently hit the link to their site instead of yours.

In today’s market, it’s not always your product that sets you apart from the crowd—even though I’m sure your cars are way nicer than that guy’s—but actually your bond with the buyer.

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Studies have shown that companies that failed to prioritize customer relations lost 20% more clients annually than their counterparts. While this stat might be scary, it does confirm one thing: you can’t expect customers to stick around anymore without being willing to do the heavy lifting it takes to keep them.

This work comes in the form of customer relations—and it’s not without its rewards, considering the fact that strong customer relations often lead to loyal clients, positive word of mouth, and—yep, you guessed it—increased sales.

So, it’s time to up your customer relations game—that means not just saying that you care, but actually PROVING IT, and I’ll tell you how in 3 steps.

  • Make consistency in communication a priority
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Just as it’s unrealistic to call someone your best friend after one positive encounter, it’s impractical to assume a customer will make you his number #1 choice after one successful purchase.

This trust has to be earned, and upholding a consistent standard is the perfect place to start. Afterall, consistency across every channel—digital and personal—ups your chances of one triumphant buy leading to another.

However, this consistency can only be achieved by making sure that every aspect of your dealership is functioning in harmony. If your receptionist isn’t up to date with what’s being said on your website, or your sales department isn’t on the same page as your finance department, your clients could be getting mixed messages throughout the buying process.

This is risky because, if your communication isn’t consistent across the board, your customers might begin to question to consistency—and reliability—of your dealership.

  • Communicate WELL and OFTEN
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While the content of your communication is important, it’s not everything; there’s more to customer relations than first impressions.

In the words of George Farris, “conversation with customers will increase sales, even if the product or service is never mentioned.” See, it’s the continuity of your communication that truly keeps customers coming back.

Afterall, the road to good customer relations doesn’t start and stop when the transaction is made. The service and aftercare you provide following the sale is truly what cements your customers’ feelings about your company.

Staying at the forefront of a client’s radar will keep your name at the top of his shopping list if the time to buy comes back around; don’t just assume you’re his #1 choice, be sure of it.

Keeping communication channels open and active—by responding to emails, answering queries, and responding to questions on social media—is key to building this long-lasting relationship. After all, the bond isn’t formed in the showroom, it’s forged just about everywhere else.

  • Maintenance is key
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Alright, you’re in a pretty good spot with your customer relations, time to sit back, relax, and watch the sales numbers skyrocket, right?

Well, not exactly. See, establishing a good relationship with your buyers is only half of the equation; maintaining these relationships is key if you want your dealership to be a “go-to” instead of a “one-and-done.”

A good way to go about maintaining your relationship with your clients is to treat these relationships like you would a personal friendship (Disclaimer: this does NOT mean hitting them up for 5 dollars for lunch).

Just like personal friendships, customer relations have to be nurtured and cultivated—they don’t happen overnight, and they can be lost in a second if they’re not made a priority.

To keep your dealership at the forefront of your customers’ minds, try requesting their opinions on your products.

After all, buyers have crucial insights into your company that your team could easily overlook, and getting their points of view could be a game-changer for your business strategy—plus, it shows them that you see them as more than just a one-time sale, but as a valued contributor to your dealership.

Another way to keep your buyers interested and promoting your dealership is to offer membership rewards, special deals for previous shoppers, and surprise gifts for loyal supporters.

These small acts will show customers that it pays to stick with your dealership, making any switch-up to another company feel like a hassle instead of helpful.

Customer relations is an ongoing project—but it’s worth to effort! Putting in the work to build a bond with your clients is beneficial because it ensures that they stick around—and that your sales numbers continue rising. Remember, customer retention is just as important as customer acquisition, and ACI is here to guarantee that your dealership is doing BOTH in 2021!

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Have more questions about how to up your customer relations game in the coming year? ACI could be key to keeping your customers coming and your sales numbers soaring—send us an email with your questions and suggestions about what to write about next!

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