Creating loyal customers starts with a loyal team. It is important that your employees feel valued and motivated on a daily basis. When your team is at its best, then you can be sure that your customers will be getting the best service.
Here are 5 communication tips to make sure that you and your managers are being effective communicators and motivators.
1) Plan for Success: Hold weekly and monthly meetings for plan for success and go over what goals have been achieved and what you are still reaching for. Stay focused and ask your team to write down their ideas and suggestions for a “Creative Meeting” to go over the growth of the company. Before your meetings be sure to have an outline sent to everyone that will be in attendance at least two hours beforehand and encourage your team to be prepared for brainstorming.
2) Know Your Employees’ Strengths: When hiring an employee, do a personality and strengths profile. This is important because you can learn what position they are best suited for and how they communicate. When implementing a new strategy or idea for your company or department, hold a strategy meeting and go over what you are planning to do with your company or department. Then ask your team to write down who they think would be best suited for the new task or position and ask them to explain why. Your team works with one another on a weekly, daily and hourly basis; they know each other’s strengths in much more detail than you will.
3) Have Clear Processes in Place: If you do not have a clear process for every task that needs to be done, there will be inconsistency and failure. So set your team up for success, and make sure to always anticipate anything that may come up. Have someone create a manual for each position and have processes in place so each employee will be able to be self-sufficient and confident about their position.
4) Be Proud of Your Employees: Set goals for your individual employees and your team. Have prizes and bonuses in place that let them know that you are proud of what they have accomplished. Encourage them to be self-starters, and thank them when they have stepped out of the box to help grow the division or company.
5) Turn Mistakes into Learning Experiences: When a mistake happens, take the time to determine what caused it, how it can be fixed and how it can be prevented in the future. Create a process write-up and hold a training meeting to use the mistake as an example to improve your department or division. Don’t focus on the employee; turn every mistake into a learning opportunity for your team.
It’s important that you take the time to motivate and communicate with as many employees as possible on a daily basis. By sticking to this consistently, you will encourage them to do the same. Over time you will have a team that is motivated and working together to grow your business and build loyal customers.
What have you done to help motivate your team?
What is your favorite management tip? Have you seen a difference with your employees?
What prizes or bonuses can you offer employees as incentive?
Dealer Magazine | By: Mike Gorun | March 2013, Vol. 20, No. 3
The herd is homogenous and impersonal. An exclusive member is an individual who feels they are receiving some form of special treatment. Recently, I received three different $50.00 gift certificates from Nordstrom, Frontgate and Pottery Barn.
While the certificates were designed to drive incremental sales for these retailers, they were accompanied by personal letters that made me feel my past purchases were being recognized; that I was receiving ‘VIP” treatment. I am confident not all customers received these certificates.
For most dealerships, the herd simply drives and services vehicles. Dealerships that employ membership programs that recognize their most profitable customers on a more personal level know details such as “this customer drives a red 2011 Ford Fusion with 13,342 miles and is due for an oil service next month”. They know the last time this customer was in for service; and they know what services the customer is pre-disposed to purchasing.
E-mail marketing results depend on whether you’re blasting to the herd or targeting exclusive members who’ve already invited you to do so and enjoy that occasional recognition. Is your service marketing chasing the herd or are your exclusive members looking forward to it because its value is focused clearly on them and their vehicle service and maintenance needs?
This kind of special treatment is increasingly in need in a market where customers are becoming “fatigued” by the constant barrage of bland, non-personal service marketing that has become the norm.
Most retail customers participate in their “favorite” loyalty programs. It’s a proven marketing and retention tool for retailers – a tool that adds continuous profits to the bottom line.
Why are customers responding positively to these personal types of loyalty based communications? Loyalty member communication is often perceived to be of higher value because it’s personally tailored to the customer that has opted-in to receive it.
Most customers no longer perceive much value in general service and sales marketing communications. Numerous, non-segmented e-mail campaigns compound this perception. Make it a priority to create a loyalty initiative that stands out from the rest. Ensure your customers will perceive it as valuable.
One effective way to convey this value is through opt-in e-mail marketing as customers “invite” the dealership to send it to them. Don’t spam your members. These are your best customers who have entrusted you with their e-mail addresses. Be sure to only send selective, segmented, relevant e-mails. It may be more work to segment your members or customers into groups with specific preferences, but it will pay off.
Superior response rates
Because opt-in loyalty program customers have provided their accurate e-address, and will continue to do so should it change, their contact information and the dealership database is up-to-date and more productive.
Bounce rates for this type of e-mail are extremely low – as little as 7/10th of 1%. Opt-in e-mails are not being blocked by e-mail filters, dumped into spam or intercepted by overzealous service providers.
This type of opt-in marketing, used by both domestic and import dealerships, generates open rates of 24.58%, on average. Customers open and read them! The industry average for automotive related e-mails can be as low as 4% and seldom exceeds 12%.
At Berge Ford, Mesa, AZ, a repeating, precisely targeted oil-service mailer is bringing approximately 40 customers per month, many who also get additional customer-pay parts and labor work performed.
Because these e-mail messages are generated automatically based on pre-set parameters in the loyalty program, neither the dealer nor staff spend much time preparing and managing these important loyalty campaigns.
A loyal customer’s value
Statistical service and sales transaction data verifies that dealership customers who are enrolled in specially designed rewards-based loyalty programs improve dealership service and sales performance.
In a multi-year industry study, customers who have become active members in an automotive loyalty program visit their dealership every 4.26 months compared to every 6.82 months for those customers who are not participating in the program.
- This represents an increase in visit frequency of 60% annually.
- Members’ annual spend mirrors the increase in visitation, with a 97% increase in overall retail spend.
- Dealerships using loyalty programs have an average retention rate of 56.98% for active members.
Customer engagement review
Customers receiving opt-in e-mail tend to engage with the dealership long-term, spending their dollars with your dealership versus another dealership or the aftermarket. This loyal customer engagement marketing works so well because:
- It targets customers already loyal to the dealership but encourages their more frequent engagement, increasing opportunity for the dealership to provide value and retain customers’ business.
- It is permission-based: recipients have accepted your invitation to engage them on a recurring basis, so open rates are high.
- It’s specific and targeted to individuals and their specific vehicle needs so there is a greater value for both the customer and dealership
- Higher-than-average e-mail open rates leads to more customers taking advantage of the offer. This return rate means more vehicles on your service lifts being inspected and more opportunities to up-sell in the service department.
Remember those $50 gift certificates? I used all of them while spending an additional $600! A little bit of recognition and incentive can go a long way to driving sales you may not even know are out there waiting just for your store.
What type of e-mails are you sending customers to build loyalty?
Are you currently using a loyalty program? Why or why not?
WordofMouth.org | By The Editor | July 3, 2012
Happy, loyal employees can be fantastic talkers. The bigger the brand, the more potential advocates you have. And while not every employee will want to do it, that’s OK — because just as many will.
Here’s how to help the eager ones share:
1. Show them how to do it
You probably have a lot of employees who’d like to talk about you right now, but they might not know how to do it or if it’s allowed. Create simple training, guidelines, and tips on how to share. Keep it positive and encouraging, but be clear on the legal and ethical disclosure requirements. Some companies like Dell do regular training sessions (both for employees and for partners), and Farmers Insurance recently did it by helping all of their agents use Facebook to connect with their customers.
2. Keep them informed
Companies invest so much in trying to get their news out, but a lot of that information never makes it to the staff. Start a simple newsletter highlighting interesting things employees might want to share. When you launch a new product, give them a sneak peek. When you host events, give them a couple passes to give away. Whenever you do something worth talking about, make sure they’re among the first with a chance to share it.
3. Give them the tools to make it easy
Much of what inspires your fans and happy customers to talk will inspire your employees in the same way. It’s product samples, beta tests, emails they can forward, and swag. The classic is the “secret” friends and family discount that somehow seems to always leak out to the masses. And remember: You’re already doing most of this stuff for your external fans, why not do it for your employees too?
4. Thank them when they do it
Just like you thank your external talkers and advocates, you can do the same for your employees. Feature them in your marketing, link to their Twitter accounts and blogs, and highlight the cool stuff they’re contributing. This makes the talker feel like a rock star, and it also helps motivate everyone else to join in.
How are your helping your employees talk about you?
In what ways can you thank your employees?
When we hear the term “Fixed Ops” we think of something that cannot be changed. The concept of Fixed Ops is that they depend on the result of the variable operations within a dealership. The goal is that as car sales rise, so will service revenue. However, your service revenue can move up the charts without having to depend on your sales. Here’s how:
By marketing your service department to existing customers AND new prospects you can increase customer retention and gain new customers through what might have been a lost sale through your CRM.
Here are 6 Tips to make your fixed ops not so fixed:
1. Offer a Loyalty Rewards Program. Reward Members Spend 11% More Annually On Service When Participating In A Rewards Program. By rewarding your customers for returning, you let them know that they are valuable and they feel better about the fact that they are getting a discount for returning. 98% Of Customers Who Join A Rewards Program Provide An Email Address. What better way to build your email database for marketing specials in the future?
2. Offer a Pre-Paid Maintenance Program. By offering your customers the option of a pre-paid maintenance plan you take away the anxiety of the service bill and gain on average, a 35% Service visit increase.
3. Offer Monthly Specials. When a customer comes in for service and finds out that they need a timing belt and all fluids replaced, they may have a semi-meltdown at your desk. But if you have a special coming up the next month that will offer them some relief, they will be more likely to return for a major service.
4. Send Service Reminders to Your Customer Base. Set up automated messages that go out to your service customers who have not been in for 3, 6 and 9 months. Be sure that you are not emailing the same customer multiple times. Also, track what emails are working and which ones need revision. It is important that anytime that you market your company, you track the results.
5. Send monthly special emails. Send out monthly specials to your service customers AND sales prospects within your CRM. Most sales leads purchase AFTER 60 days, which means you have time to build a strong relationship with them. By converting a slow buyer to a service customer you will build a relationship of trust and secure a sale in the future.
6. Coupons. Women make up 73% of service customers. We all know that women love coupons. Some women will buy something JUST because they have a coupon. So, give your customers a 10% off coupon when they spend a certain amount to use on their next visit and be sure to include coupons on your service page and in all of your email communications.
By taking the time to strategize a marketing plan for each month of the year, you can optimize your service revenue and continue to grow your customer base.
What programs have you implemented to help grow your fixed ops revenue?
What service coupons drive the most sales at your business?
Statistics show that a customer who has a good experience will tell 4 to 5 people. However, a customer who has a bad experience will tell more than 20. In addition, they will usually leave a negative review to go with that word of mouth to leave a permanent finger pointed at your dealership in a bad way.
Maintaining your online reputation is crucial to new customers and previous customers deciding whether to make you their choice. If you don’t manage complaints and deal with them effectively, you are losing what could be a loyal customer and preventing prospects from ever becoming loyal customers.
But maintaining that reputation doesn’t start online, it starts at your dealership with each and every customer.
Here are 6 Tips to Maintaining a Great Online Reputation:
1. Have someone assigned to monitoring your review sites.
It is important to know what is being said about you in the digital world. By knowing when a negative review is posted, you can have someone handle the complaint immediately, and hopefully have the customer revise their complaint into a compliment, (preferably BEFORE anyone sees the complaint).
2. Know How to Handle Complaints.
Everyone in your dealership should be able to “manage” their own complaints. If you are the only one equipped to handle complaints, this may monopolize your time, thus eliminating the time needed for planning, strategizing and development your department and your dealership.
3. Prevent Negative Reviews with Great Follow-Up.
A follow-up phone call should be made to each and every customer 24 hours after their purchase or service visit to make sure that they are completely satisfied. It is important that the person making these calls have the authority and knowledge to handle complaints and who to assign a customer to should they need to return. Having a minimum wage college student handle this for you may actually cause more miscommunication and dissatisfaction in the long run. Put someone in place that understands how a dealership runs and has a strict guideline for how to handle a complaint.
4. Give Great Customer Service.
I know this one should be a given, but I want to emphasize that great customer service includes knowledge, honesty, quality and sincerity. You can’t just put a smile on your face and expect people to worship you. You have to know your product so that you can answer their questions and gain their trust. Be sincere and let them know that you are there to help them, not rip them off. When you are not sincere, it shows and makes the customer leery.
5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for a Positive Review.
A lot of customers don’t even know that you have a review site or even think to post a review unless they are upset. Asking a satisfied customer to post a quick comment about why they love your dealership will give your online reputation a huge boost. Whoever you have making your follow-up calls could request this, or if you have a follow-up email created to go out to customers you could include a link in the email to make it easier for the customer. But it is important that if you include this in an email that you give the customer the option to voice a complaint. This can be a link that will allow them to submit a complaint to the General Manager. Otherwise, only having a link to POST a review could lead to more damage.
6. Know How to Handle a Negative Review.
When a negative review is posted, you need to do damage control and FAST. Before you contact the customer, do your research.
- Who was the advisor and technician or salesperson?
- What did they purchase or what service did they have done?
- Will they need to return to the dealership?
- How long have they been a customer?
When you contact the customer you should know and anticipate what they will say, want and need. Your ONLY goal should be to please that customer, not defend your dealership.
In conclusion, by preparing for complaints and negative reviews and knowing what to do to prevent negative reviews and unsatisfied customers, you will be able to proactively manage and build your online reputation to secure a life long supply of loyal customers.
What strategies do you have in place to build your online reputation?
What you would recommend to our readers?