Loyalty programs are only as good as your employees make them. The best loyalty program in the world still requires staff buy-in to make it work. If a current program isn’t working, dealers should take a closer look at their culture and create strategies to develop a positive work environment and motivated employees. Here’s how to get started:
1) Find out what’s important to your employees.
The best way to do this is to conduct an anonymous survey. Not everyone is interested in great pay and benefits. Once basic needs are met, many people value things like recognition, advancement opportunities and training. Ask for suggestions.
2) Pay well.
Find out what your competition is paying and try to pay a little bit better. Give your employees opportunities for spiffs and perks, and put them in writing. Since benefits are important, offer the best you can afford. Here’s the thing: the best employees know they are good, and they will always be looking for a place to work that offers good pay and benefits. Also, make sure your employees take their vacation days. Most people need time off to recharge so they don’t burn out.
3) Show your appreciation.
Thank and reward employees for a job well done. Gifts don’t have to be extravagant; it could be a pair of movie tickets or a free lunch once a week to the employee who has put in the most effort that week. Commend them with certificates or letters of thanks. Have an employee of the month and of the year. Remember their birthdays and give them a card.
4) Help them with goals.
Promote employees from within whenever possible, and help them identify a career path within your company. Most people don’t want to feel “stuck” in one position forever. Empower your employees to make decisions, set their own goals and then hold them accountable.
5) Make them feel like they’re part of a team.
A team can be the entire company or departments within the company. Some friendly competition amongst teams can help motivate and boost energy levels. Make it clear how each person’s role contributes to the company’s goals, and therefore their goals.
What do you think makes a positive workplace?
What makes you feel motivated and to go to work every day?
Do you notice a direct correlation between happy employees and happy customers?
Targeted email campaigns are still one of the most effective forms of marketing, and marketers say that email is still a strong performer as a generator of both website traffic and revenue. Experian recently released a white paper titled, “E-Mail Market Study: Acquisition and Engagement Tactics”. Email engagement proves your subscribers are interested in your brand and the content you are delivering. Email marketers are using new methods for email engagement and also improving older methods to gain a greater understanding of their customers’ needs and wants.
Here are some interesting facts and best practices from the white paper:
1) Point of Sale is the Best Place to Collect Email Addresses
• Seventy-eight percent of retail brands use sales associates to collect email addresses.
• Thirty-six percent of brands collect email addresses on paper (not recommended due to spelling errors)
• The majority of marketers (73 percent) source and track email addresses acquired at point of sale differently than other addresses
• Thirty-three percent of marketers report that more than 25 percent of their customers are willing to provide their email address at point of sale
2) Use Incentive Signs at Your Cash Register
A successful example Urban Outfitters used was “Ask to be signed up for our e-mails and receive 10% off your next purchase.” This tactic would be most effective in the service department. Post a sign in your waiting room or at the cash register offering an incentive to sign up for your emails.
3) Use Pop-Up Windows
Pop-up windows on websites are one of the most aggressive and successful method for e-mail address acquisition. When Sport Chalet installed a pop-up window on their website saying “Sign up for Our E-mails,” they experienced an 84% increase in the total number of valid e-mail addresses and a 39% increase in total opens. If this isn’t an option on your site, offer e-mail opt-ins in several places across your website. Experian finds that above-the-fold opt-in locations perform better than those below the fold.
4) Use Opt-Out Surveys
Opt-out surveys are used after a customer opts-out of your emails, and can help identify why your customers are dropping off your list. Ask questions like:
• Do they not like the time of day they’re receiving emails?
• Have they had a life change that would make them unsubscribe?
• Do they not like the frequency with which they receive your messages?
• Do they find your content interesting or useful?
The answers to these questions can help steer your program in the right direction.
5) Use Subject Line Testing
Companies surveyed agreed that subject line testing wins when it comes to results. Over time, if subject line testing is done correctly and consistently, open rates can improve significantly. With today’s sophisticated CRMs, subject line testing on different groups can be accomplished very easily. Every marketer should make this type of testing a common practice.
What are your best practices and recommendations for e-mail acquisition?
What has worked and what hasn’t? Why?
A recent article in Direct Marketing News offers an in-depth analysis of the typical obstacles that companies must overcome to build customer loyalty. If your business is not getting the most out of its customer loyalty program, it’s probably due to one of the following four reasons:
1. Difficulty in measuring and using data
Loyalty programs cannot be measured in traditional ways. In fact, three of the top five reported challenges are measurement related. Measurement needs to focus on these three metrics:
1. Specific changes in the customer value equation
2. Shifts in consumer value
3. Customer engagement and advocacy
Each metric needs a clear definition of success for now and the future. Measurement then becomes part of continuous loyalty loop, in which customer intelligence creates customer insights, which feed into the loyalty program and creates more customer data to start the loop again
2. Picking the right mix of rewards and benefits
Most loyalty rewards involve discounts, but this becomes difficult to execute as everyone has the same offerings and retailers have trained consumers to look for nothing but discounts. This is a delicate tightrope act: give rewards that are too expensive or popular and the budget gets blown. Starbucks, Virgin Airlines and National Car Rental offer just a few of the programs that earn rave reviews with customers, without breaking the bank to do it. The key to success is activating “soft benefits” that have high perceived value.
3. Programs lack true innovation
The average customer is a member of more than 10 loyalty programs. As more and more retailers launch programs, making a splash with a new program isn’t easy. Before loyalty programs, customers would stay with their favorite retailers based primarily on price or location. Loyalty broke this inertia, giving customers a reason to shop at another retailer. If faced with a choice between companies, loyalty broke the tie.
But, as more companies start programs, a new inertia has formed. Nearly 60% of consumers state they only participate in a few loyalty programs. Meanwhile, customers feel they are getting less out of programs. About 30% of consumers feel that there is little or no value in joining a program.
Offering differentiated benefits gives customers a reason to engage. Assess the competition and do customer research to find these benefits. Carefully test to pick the winners.
4. Marketing and operations are not on the same page
Customers can receive years of good interaction with a brand and program only to have it all ruined by one negative experience. Executing a program happens on two levels: systems to identify the customer and present them with the right reward/recognition, and store operations to carry out the needed tactics. System issues are frustrating but easy to explain, while in-store issues cause more frustration.
Soft benefits are ideal because customer benefit outweighs cost. Failed execution means customers will not trust the company in the future; operations need to deliver on marketing promises.
How is your business measuring customer loyalty?
What rewards and benefits can you offer your customers to stay innovative?
How can you train your employees to execute your loyalty program to your customers?
Dealer Marketing Magazine | September 1, 2010 – Everyone loves to get more value out of an investment than they originally put in. It’s not very often, however, that both the dealer and the customer feel the same way when the customer leaves the dealership; one party or the other usually feels that they could have – or should have – gotten “more”.
Imagine a scenario where, when the customer drives off in their new car, they know they received the best value for their money and anticipate a great relationship with their dealership over the coming years as their car is well cared for; and the dealer leaves the sale knowing their customer will come back again and again for future maintenance, service and vehicle purchases. A “Win-Win” scenario, where the dealer and the customer each come away feeling like they got the better end of the deal.
Indeed, these scenarios describe the functionality and outcomes produced by today’s technology-driven prepaid maintenance programs (PPM). These software-driven, dealer-controlled programs are the best “Win-Win” business tools available today – with no industry gimmicks and real, tangible results.
PPMs keep customers returning to your service department. That’s good news. Even better news is that each PPM visit also creates upsell opportunities. The statistics speak for themselves: customers who use a dealer’s repair facilities are 17 times more likely to purchase their next car from that dealer, and keeping a greater percentage of customers returning to your service department can bring huge increases to your service bottom line too!
Given the price and administration structures of most traditional plans, regardless of the return promised on their sale to customers, many PPMs challenged all but the most advanced dealerships to afford and manage profitably. Technology removes these barriers by putting the administration, management and reserve functions at the controlling hands of the dealer.
In other words, key functions and processes, including redemption management as well as plan registration, service claim and premium submission, are carried out in-house through the dealership management system (DMS) and web-based software, making the PPMs not only more affordable, but more effective as well.
Thus, software-driven PPM programs are a great leveler. Their fees to the dealership are three to four times less than traditional third-party-based PPMs. They eliminate traditional “seeding fees” charged for setting up and maintaining the PPM reserve account. These fees average $10,000 to $14,000 collected by the third-party plans for every $1 million in reserve.
The hands-off freedom afforded by today’s PPMs give the dealer complete control, on a daily basis, over how money is reported, tracked and used. Earned reserve or plan forfeiture amounts are realized immediately – no sharing with an outside administration company.
Every plan will experience forfeiture. It results when a customer terminates the plan early or for whatever reason does not use the plan. For most traditional PPMs, the third-party administrator holds this dealer-funded reserve. It is from this reserve that the administrator would often take up to 60 percent of the value of the cancelled services as part of its fee structure. Today’s technology-driven plans enable the dealer to processes forfeiture through the general accounting ledger in the DMS.
The Other Side of Win is…Win
Today’s self-administered, self-managed plans also are more appealing to customers, particularly those buying mainline domestic and import brands who seek value in all they buy, whether automobile services or groceries.
Today’s technology-driven plans make it very easy for dealers to customize what is offered in the dealership’s PPM offering. Often this will result in a plan made up of products other than, or including, discounted prepaid LOF, tire rotation and fluid services. Plans that provide the product (value) important to the local market will appeal more to buyers, making their presentation and sale in the F&I office or service lane more profitable and successful for the dealership.
It is these plans’ ability to retain a customer’s service business and then create upsell opportunities for additional customer-pay repair order (RO) business at each plan service visit that make them like a money tree. These programs can triple the likelihood of the customer continually returning for service – a big growth over the 18 to 20 percent of customers who do traditionally return with a PPM’s incentive.
By converting PPM owners’ prepaid maintenance work to additional legitimate service needs (Your shop does insist on giving every vehicle that enters the store a free, no-obligation vehicle inspection, right?) the additional retail parts and labor can produce healthy additional business.
Some dealers report the ability to glean another $150 to $350 of additional up-sold retail customer-pay business per RO as a result.
When both sides win, what’s to lose?
Technology-driven PPMs that you manage and control simply make it too attractive not to give prepaid maintenance programs a second look.
Dealerships operating highly successful customer loyalty programs tend to structure those efforts around three loyalty traits – loyal customers, loyal employees and loyal dealers.
An example is Acton Toyota of Littleton, in Littleton, MA, which launched a loyalty program in 2007. Since then, the dealership has registered more than 24,000 retail members to its program and is adding 365 new members a month.
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