Now more than ever you need every customer you can get. You need more service traffic, sales and profits. You need to sell more cars; heck, you always need to sell more cars! The best way to reach all of these goals is to get every single one of your team members to learn how to impress customers so much that they would never consider going anywhere else. Some people call this “The WOW Factor”.

‘WOW’ means you have succeeded in making the customer’s experience so great that they’re excited enough to actually say the word “WOW” out loud. This takes some training and a little hard work but what it really takes is a change of mindset by every employee. Fostering better relationships with your customers needs to be at the forefront of your team’s priorities and it starts by taking a real look at customer retention.

Retention really is a BIG deal.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – the factory’s intense focus is now almost entirely on customer retention. The big buzz word used to be CSI but that is quickly being replaced with your store’s retention percentage. To be honest, and don’t kill me for saying it, I like it. If you think about it, customer retention is the only true measure of customer satisfaction and it can’t be manipulated or tampered with like surveys and scores can. If you do what’s right, treat customers the way they should be treated, and become competitive and convenient – they’ll come back, spend more, visit more, defect less, and you will grow your business – it really is that simple.

What amazes me is that so many managers and their dealers make no real investment of time, money, or effort to improve customer retention and build relationships with customers. Now, tell the truth – what is your store doing to ensure that new and used vehicle buyers return for their future service work? What are you doing to encourage your existing service customers to return for more service or to buy their next vehicle from you? What do you do to reward your customers for their loyalty? Think about this – you spend thousands of dollars every month to attract new and used vehicle shoppers and service customers to spend money at your store and hardly an ounce on retaining them. Doesn’t it make sense to try harder to keep the ones you already have?

Here’s the good news – despite what you hear, customer retention is not rocket science – there’s nothing scientific about it. It’s simple. As a matter of fact, your entire customer retention problem can be fixed with one simple word! The word, Ladies and Gentlemen, is ‘WOW’. That’s it. I told you it was simple. If you want to improve your retention percentage and build lasting relationships with your customers all you have to do is make your customers say ‘WOW’. Make them say it when they drive past your dealership, make them say it when they enter your showroom or service drive, make them say it when they come in contact with your employees, and make them say it when they are negotiating for their next vehicle. You have to do things that customers don’t expect, throw them for a curve. You have to exceed their expectations. Do the things that make them so impressed that they truly are blown away.

 ‘WOW’ them in sales.
Offer vehicle shoppers something that your competition doesn’t have – something that is wow-worthy. Remember, the vehicles on your lot are the same as the ones on every other dealership’s lot in the mind of most consumers. You need to give shoppers a real reason to only buy from you.

Make your store different and say thank you in a big way after the vehicle sale to make your vehicle buyers feel special. Hotels, restaurants, airlines, grocery stores, and even dealerships across the country are using simple and effective loyalty programs to lock customers into their businesses – why don’t you? Instead of just trying to set a first service appointment at time of vehicle delivery, WOW them with a complimentary membership to your store’s loyalty program – that’s something that will be sure to drive more traffic into your service drive and increase your customer retention.

‘WOW’ them in service.
You have to give customers a reason to continue to do business with you just as much in the service department as you do in sales. In their mind you charge too much, take too long, and are inconvenient. They also think that all they ever need is an oil change and they can get that done anywhere. Studies show that consumers today expect dealerships to be the premier place for servicing their vehicles and when those expectations aren’t met and there’s nothing to keep them from going anywhere else, your retention percentage plummets. Here are 3 things you can do to WOW more customers in service:

  1. Advertise smarter. Let customers know that it’s not “just an oil change”, that you aren’t more expensive, and that you won’t take too long. Let them know that you want to do whatever it takes to earn their business. Let’s face it, you need their business. Make having service work done at your store fast and easy. Check to be sure your prices are competitive and advertise – in other words, don’t be the best kept secret in town! They really would rather have the work done at your dealership but they just need some reassurance.
  2. Make waiting fun. While they are waiting, do something different to really WOW them. Wi-Fi, comfortable chairs in the lounge, and donuts are no longer enough. Those are expected, they are not wow-worthy. Try entertaining customers with a daily game and give away a car wash, detail, or discount voucher for parts and service to the winner. Make it a fun experience for your customers to be at your dealership. Nobody else does that and they’ll tell everybody about your store. Wow!
  3. Valet the cars. After service is completed, WOW your customers again by having the vehicle valet parked on your service drive. Teach advisors to spend a few moments reviewing their repair order – make sure they don’t just send them to a cashier. Get the transaction handled for the customer right there at your advisor’s write-up station. Take it a step further and walk the customer to their car, open the door, remove the seat cover and floor mat, and then wipe the dash, steering wheel, and left door panel with a clean white rag. Share their hand, thank them again for their business, and close the door for them. WOW!!!

You can fix most, if not all, of your customer retention problems by doing a few very simple and different things to WOW your customers. The trick is to make them really feel special; give them a reason to buy only from your store. Say thank you and reward them for their loyalty like every major business does today. As I said earlier, customer retention isn’t rocket science. You can do it. Now, get out there and take a walk on the WOW side!