The Dawn of a New Loyalist: A Recap of One of NADA’s Most Alarming Seminars

computer screen asking are you ready

This year’s NADA Convention & Expo offered an abundance of enlightening and informative seminars for guests to attend. However, we know you couldn’t get to them all, and not everyone was able to attend the convention. So if you missed “5 Ways to Engage the Next Generation of Owners,” we’ve got your back.

Here’s the groundbreaking and industry shifting news you need to know; today’s dealers face three challenges that have never occurred before:

As of July 2012, the average age of a vehicle on the road in the United States is 11 years old. People are training themselves to get more out of their vehicles and DMEautomotive’s consumer study confirms that an aging vehicle fleet favors the aftermarket, not you.

That brings us to the next challenge. The loyalty landscape is changing; consumers are flocking to the aftermarket for bread and butter services and roughly one in seven dealership loyalists is 65 years old or older. Think this is a small number? Think again: these customers are now poised to leave the market, and the loss of just the over-65 loyal customers represents an industry hit of 3.4 billion dollars.

The aftermarket, loyal-customer age demographic, however, is the polar opposite of the dealership loyalist demographic, with 18 to 54 year olds being aftermarket loyalists. That means it’s time for dealerships to refocus their efforts to capture not only the customers that are bleeding to the aftermarket, but also the next generation of owners who are already loyal to the competitor (prior to entering their prime spending years).

It’s the dawn of the new dealer loyalist. The next generation of owners shop differently, behave differently and value very different things.

So how do dealers combat these never before seen challenges and most of all—engage this next generation of vehicle owners?

Use prepaid maintenance plans. Offer several packages on new and used vehicles, and back in service to attract and retain millennial consumers.

The next generation wants to interact with you via online service scheduling, so offer it! And not only via website, but also through mobile websites and mobile apps. Don’t forget the next generation runs on mobile!

Get a loyalty program! Promote the loyalty program as part of the car buying and service experience. Use signage in all departments and make sure your loyalty program is highlighted on all your communications to your customers. And most importantly teach your team how to discuss your loyalty program with every customer.

Make sure to have a targeted service marketing strategy and a customizable automated service reminder program with relevant content based on personal driving habits and vehicle type. Don’t use email blasts as a way to save money on marketing. Think small list, with increased relevant content and you will get a higher return and increased email interaction. Set a budget for service conquest and create a universe to target. Rotate through the target with unique offers.

Finally, get to know your competitor—the aftermarket! Enhance your understanding of their marketing strategy, what do their pieces look like, what services do they promote, how often do they send communications? After you’ve experienced it, have your advisors do it. Let them experience how well trained your competitors are.

Remember the aftermarket is where the next generation already hangs out. Always fine tune what you’re good at, but also mirror what the aftermarket does best to attract next generation consumers to your store.

Steve Dozier is the national training director at 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

Michael Bowen


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