1987 Called…It Wants its Service Marketing Strategies Back

The auto industry is experiencing dramatic changes that are completely reshaping the way you need to do business. Consumers have created a new reality as they drive fewer miles, keep their vehicles around longer, research more before they purchase (both vehicles and service), and communicate on their schedule, not yours. The alarming truth is that these changes have added up to a trend of increased service intervals that have grown over the past 12 months from an average of 140 days between service visits to 145 days.

This mere five-day increase actually costs you thousands and thousands of dollars each year in lost service revenue—nearly $91,000per year to be exact—that means $18,000 per service day lost.

Most service marketing programs are based on the best thinking of 1987: marketing to the vehicle service interval. But it’s time to ditch the best marketing of 1987 and invest in new era marketing strategies that are completely built around the latest industry research, changing consumer behaviors, and today’s modern realities. Bring the power of total customer retention to your dealership and destroy the threat of today’s increasing service interval.

Total customer retention is built on five key pillars: direct behavioral targeting of your customers, a fully formed marketing strategy including digital and complete mobile marketing capabilities, mid-interval communications, and loyalty and prepaid maintenance programs. Each pillar is strategically designed to pinpoint and contact customers at critical transition points, convert sales customers to service customers and then transition those customers into a full-scale service retention program—keeping them coming back to your sales and service drive, recapturing all of your lost service interval days and then some.

Direct Behavior Targeting

Direct behavior targeting of customers allows you to communicate using the right language, the right selling points and the right offers to get loyal customers, swing loyal customers, and disloyal customers to come into your store, maximizing their spend and minimizing your cost. When your customers are all so different, why would you speak to them the same way, with the same offers? Direct behavioral targeting helps you speak to each customer in the way they want, yielding efficient customer response.

A fully digital and mobile marketing strategy is an absolute must in today’s technology-based world. Mobile apps, web, and email abilities and the prudent use of texting will carry the continuous customer conversation. Using new technologies like Responsive Email Design, you can provide customers with straightforward call to actions that speaks directly to their needs and desires.

Mid Interval Communications

And with today’s increasing service intervals, it’s important to incorporate mid interval communicationsinto your total customer retention strategy, pulling customers back into your service drive more frequently and purchasing high margin items like brakes, tires, and batteries. Perfect timing is the key; know when consumers need brakes, tires, and batteries, then market to those customers to get them back into your store before their next service interval.

Loyalty Programs

Did you know that 70 percent of all service dollars are obtained from the top 20 percent of your customer base? You can’t afford to lose these loyal customers. Implementing loyalty programs that focus on retaining and building your group of loyal customers must be a primary focus in your total customer retention strategy.

Prepaid Maintenance Programs

Prepaid maintenance programs are also essential retention tools to build loyalty and total customer retention. Your marketing lifecycle needs to market differently to prepaid maintenance customers than to your other customers; it’s crucial to keep them coming back to your dealership for all of their prepaid services (and every other service) because 56 percent of those PPM customers are likely to continue servicing at your store even after their plan expires!

Take back your service intervals with a total customer retention plan that’s based on the new era of automotive marketing.

Mike Martinez is chief marketing officer of DMEautomotive, the industry leader in science-based, results-driven automotive marketing that provides a range of marketing services to the biggest and most innovative automotive organizations in the industry. For more information, email dme@dealermark.com.

Mike Martinez


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