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In visiting a new dealership client the other day conducting a Business Process Analysis and Alignment and looking for improvements I asked the dealer what he considered his greatest asset to be outside of his employees.
His response: “We have been here for twenty years and I take very special pride in our owner base customers”. “They are my greatest assets”.
Of course I responded with; I can appreciate that, how many owner base customers do you have?
Response: “That’s a good question, I don’t know”.
Well then, if they are your greatest asset how do you let them know you care about them?
Response: “Well we send out various mailings and host new car events and I always come out and greet them when they are in the store”.
How many mailings do you send out and how do you determine who gets them?
Response: “Around 250 a month and our most current customers get them”.
We then estimated based upon monthly sales, over the last twenty years that it was quite possible for him to have acquired at least 20,000 to 26,000 owner base customers. It was decided that if he only took a somewhat “active list” of 10,000 and he has 10 salespeople it would take one year to make contact with them if the sales team made 83 contacts a month. Sounds like a big task yet when reduced to the simple it equates to 3.77 calls per day per person. The theory to be applied here is; a little plus a little = a lot. Set up these calls as part of a daily required task. You will also have orphan owners who most likely are getting no attention that need to be treated with a little different approach.
I estimate that there are only three ways for salespeople to increase their business;
1. Sell more units,
2. Sell at a higher gross profit and finally,
3. RESELL your owner base either directly or indirectly through referrals.
Studies have indicated that 30% of your owner base customers know of someone who is going to purchase a vehicle in the next 90 to 120 days. Given the above owner base scenario, that would equate to 3,000 of this dealer’s owners know someone who will be in the market. Ok, so you can’t get them all so lets cut it in half 1,500 don’t like that number then cut it again, 750 units. Could you use a few extra unit sales? Here is one way to find them.
I asked the dealer’s sales managers a question: Let’s say I sign a lease for three years with you on a new vehicle, when do your people contact me again to get me into a new one?
Answer: “In about two and a half years”. Pretty conventional. Let’s see six months in front of a three year lease expiration. Wow, pretty cleaver.
My comment was that was that’s too bad. Example; I own five vehicles in my family and you were only focused on the one you sold me. You see, things change; wife needs a new vehicle for work, husband now needs a truck instead of a car due to a job change, son turns 16 in October, accidents do occur and on and on it goes. But, if your people are concentrating only on the one they sold them (or in most cases, fresh ups) they will invariably miss out the next time the opportunity presents itself. Ninety percent of owner base customers do not remember their salesperson’s name after one year. I would suspect that salespeople forget the customer’s name after 30 days. Shame on us. That is no way to treat your second greatest assets.
One of the greatest fears new customers have is they think you will “take the money and run” and they will never hear from you again. Our industry has created this paradigm in their minds and it is upon us to destroy this myth. In other words affect a paradigm shift to an enhanced customer focused approach.
Plan and simple, overall this industry traditionally simply does not exemplify good follow-up skills and/or we do not realize the importance this customer represents to the individual and the dealership outside of service.
Some of the important factors Owner Base Customers represent are:
- Parts customer
- Additional vehicle sales
- Service customer
- Good will Ambassador for the dealership around town
- CSI improvement
- Pre-Owned inventory enhancement through Trade ins
You always have to be looking for improvementsin the way you do business vs. the way your competitor dealers do business. You must fall in Love with being customer focused, professional and do the little extraordinary things that the ordinary dealerships are not willing to do. Remember, you want to develop Loyal Customers not just Satisfied Customers. A loyal customer deserves all the elements that go into a wife/husband relationship i.e. remembering special occasions, good communications, notes, cards, phone calls, listening, caring, gifts of perceived value, etc. A satisfied customer remains satisfied for around 90 days then the payments keep coming in with no love attached. So, regularly love on them.
This will gain you an allegiance from your Owner Base Customers and they will keep coming back to you!
You have to love on your owner base customers on a regular basis. And, make sure your people are well trained in owner base techniques in order to make these critical follow-up calls and design creative content in their letters/notes/special occasion cards. Make sure the telephone conversations have deep meaning and go beyond the standard “how is your new car doing”. Then and only then can you take advantage of data mining and begin to receive the benefits therein.
Ok, so we may need to pay better attention to our second most valuable asset – Owner Base Customers.
Remember, you want to develop Loyal Customers not just Satisfied Customers. Send me an email for a couple of good ideas to accomplish the aforementioned.
Do something positively different and you will get positively different results.
Email me at email@example.com if you would like some guidance on achieving greater sales impact.