Anyone who gambles – whether they are a casual gambler or a professional gambler – realizes that casinos aren’t in business to lose money. In fact, casinos must generate a ton of revenue just to keep the Las Vegas strip lit up 24 hours a day. It really doesn’t matter which game you choose to play. Every game is designed to be in the house’s favor; although some offer a better chance of winning than others. According to this article, blackjack has the best odds and slot machines the worst.
Why would I bring up gambling odds and the fact that casinos are in business to make money not lose it? A recent study was commissioned by Caesar’s Entertainment – owners of casinos in four continents for over 75 years – and was conducted by the Harvard Business School. Based on the results of that study, Caesars Entertainment said “the best way to engage our customers in our sustainability journey is by engaging our most valuable asset: our employees.” They go on to say that the “customer loyalty and satisfaction…is directly linked to employees’ level of participation in sustainable activities at work.”
To create employee engagement, Caesars Entertainment created the CodeGreen strategy in which they enlisted employees to donate both money and time into conservation projects. They then share the results of these efforts not only with employees, but also with customers. In doing so, they found that it created a “positive impact on customers’ perception…” In fact, revenue and customer satisfaction levels both increased in direct correlation to the percentage of employee participation.
In reality, casinos are no different than any business. They need to generate revenue and continuously find strategies that assist them in that goal. Successful businesses recognize that customer satisfaction is key to revenue growth. While creating an outstanding customer experience is definitely important, many businesses focus solely on that. They neglect the other components necessary to a successful growth strategy as I outlined in last week’s blog article.
Employee engagement programs don’t have to be as detailed and global as asking employees for donations or volunteer hours. There are some very simple activities that you can hold for your employees that are just as effective but take much less management.
Some examples of employee engagement activities include:
- Employee picnics or luncheons
- Movie nights
- Internal dealership newsletters
- Monthly and annual staff awards and recognition
- Team building activities
- Holiday parties
- Celebration of employee birthdays on a monthly basis
All of these will help you accomplish the goal of having more engaged employees. Engaged employees are typically more satisfied with their positions. That translates into higher retention and customer satisfaction.
“Happy employees mean happy customers. And happy customers mean a happy business.” Caesars Entertainment couldn’t have said it any better!
What activities does your business run to engage employees?
How are employees creating a positive impact on customers?
I’ve written many articles about the different types of loyalty and how each can affect your business’ growth and revenue. However, I’ve never written an overview of how all these components fit together in a holistic manner. Hopefully, this blog article will help put the pieces together so that you better understand these concepts more globally.
Internal Service Quality:
It all begins with your internal service quality. Components of this include:
- Workplace design – A well-designed dealership will maximize space to create a more efficient environment for employees and customers.
- Job design – This doesn’t just include job descriptions but practicality. Ensure that the right employees are responsible for things that they have the knowledge and experience to handle effectively. And that all positions complement each other and generate the most efficient work-flow possible.
- Employee selection and training – By having a hiring process that enables the best selection of employees with the highest chances of success in a given position, you can create a team of people that are effective. Experience and knowledge must be considered along with a candidate’s ability to work well with others. Ongoing training also assists in maximizing employee efficiency and productivity.
- Recognition – By recognizing employees, you reinforce positive behavior and provide other employees with examples to follow. This also assists employees in better understanding your expectations of them, and it lets them know that they will be recognized for good work.
Paying attention and implementing programs and processes for these areas, can help increase employee satisfaction. Employees that are satisfied with their jobs tend to be more productive. This can then create a need for fewer employees, thus lowering your fixed expenses for staffing, reducing employee turnover and increasing employee retention.
External Service Value:
External service value should include a results-oriented service concept focused on providing an excellent customer experience through efficiency and communication. Customer recognition programs, such as loyalty programs, reinforce to the customer that you value their business.
If employees do their jobs in the most efficient manner possible, while the company rewards that hard work by providing a great work place, a positive environment is created. In this type of environment, employees care about customer service and experience which translates to higher customer satisfaction.
Higher customer satisfaction then leads to an increase in customer loyalty and customers become brand evangelists. Loyal customers are essential to any growth strategy. They generate revenue from repeat business in service and sales. They also lead to increased retention and generate customer acquisition through referrals. All of this, of course, leads to revenue growth and profitability for the dealer.
My goal has always been to help dealerships see value in each of these areas and assist them in improving through education. Every one of these components is equally important.
I’m sure you’ve heard the saying that you are only as strong as your weakest link. Usually this saying is in reference to a team. What I’ve outlined is no exception other than it is also applicable to your processes. A weak link in process can be just as damaging as a weak link in your team. Take a moment and do an honest assessment of these areas of your dealership. The pieces for the puzzle are all right in front of you. It’s up to you to complete it.
Have you accessed your dealership? What changes did you make?
How does your dealership recognize employees to promote employee retention?
I came across an excellent blog article recently that discussed the different forms of loyalty that exist in the car business. In this article, the author described three levels of customer loyalty: brand loyalty, dealership loyalty and salesperson loyalty. He described these three different types of loyalty as follows:
Brand loyalty: The focus here is on customer loyalty to a specific vehicle brand. Manufacturers’ entire marketing efforts are designed to retain current owners and convince owners of competing brands to switch. They use many different ways to build this loyalty including quality comparisons, performance, safety, comfort and practicality. This is important for brand market share but also just as important in assisting franchises by driving customer interest and traffic.
Dealership loyalty: Loyalty to a dealership is built through providing an excellent customer experience, treating customer right and being consistent in efforts to recognize and reward frequent and repeat customers.
Salesperson loyalty: Salespeople that stay at a specific dealership for any length of time have the ability to develop relationships with customers that can last a lifetime. They can even get to the point where they no longer have to assist new customers as their referral and repeat business keeps them busy with a constant, steady flow of business.
These are all valid and excellent points. The author of the aforementioned blog placed these different types of loyalty in order as sort of a funnel from the top down. I believe that it’s important for dealerships to recognize the importance of all of these areas but to also realize that, from a business point of view, there is a definite hierarchy that management must recognize in order to create a loyalty strategy that maximizes success.
This is the order I believe accomplishes this best.
Dealership loyalty: By far the most important type of loyalty to a dealership must be loyalty to that dealership. This is the only type of loyalty that a dealership can directly influence. Dealerships must build a base of loyal customers, and then service those loyal customers in order to survive. The less customer retention a dealership has, the more focused on customer acquisition they must be. A solid and growing base of loyal customers will assist dealerships in growth and make customer acquisition less important. If your dealership has a 30 percent defection rate, it will always need to replace that 30 percent with new customers, just to maintain the status quo. Decreasing defection through customer retention allows a dealership to grow. Dealerships will only accomplish this through providing an excellent customer experience in all departments. They can also reinforce and reward repeat customers through rewards programs and recognition.
Salesperson loyalty: Dealerships can assist in this effort by building employee loyalty. Providing a great work environment, with basics such as training to help increase the salesperson’s abilities, along with a company philosophy that reinforces positive attitudes and behavior, can decrease your employee turnover and increase longevity of employment. This allows relationships to be built and serves to reinforce to the dealership’s customer that your dealership is a great place to do business with. Ultimately, however, dealerships cannot control an employee. Turnover does happen, and the last thing any dealership wants is to lose customers because they are more loyal to a salesperson than to the dealership. Too often salespeople take their customers with them which is why dealerships need to focus on retaining their staff.
Brand loyalty: Manufacturers focus almost entirely on brand loyalty and conquest. A dealership’s sales revenue is dependent on both new and used car sales. Most dealerships carry multiple brands in their used car inventory and would be more than happy to sell a customer a pre-owned vehicle of a competing brand. Not only is brand loyalty affected in this manner but a recent study by ADP showed that 63 percent of online shoppers began their research with the intent of purchasing a specific brand. Only 20 percent of those shoppers actually ended up purchasing that brand. While a dealership can certainly reinforce brand loyalty through new car sales and leasing retention, this is where they have the least influence.
The bottom line is that every dealership must focus on loyalty at all levels, but just as in all facets of business, focus must be prioritized to maximize efficiency. Place the order of importance on items where you have the most influence at the top, to those that you have the least at the bottom. By doing so, a dealership can maximize its efforts in creating a loyal customer base that will sustain the dealer and assist in its growth.
What order do you believe accomplishes “a loyalty strategy that maximizes success” best?
What is your dealership doing to reward repeat customers?
Whether your dealership has, or is considering a loyalty program, it’s important to make sure your marketing messages align with the overall brand or image of your store. What is your dealership known for? Aggressive, “best” pricing? Friendly, no-pressure salespeople? A multi-generation, family owned pillar of the community?
A brand is your identity’s business, and conjures up powerful images for customers, both consciously and subconsciously. Whether you realize it or not, your brand creates a visual, emotional and cultural connection between you and your customers. Think about brands you know: Disney has a strong brand as the family entertainment leader. Apple commands higher prices than its competition because it has a loyal following that appreciates its innovative, counter-culture image. The Volvo brand is identified with vehicle safety. When a customer walks into your store, what kind of experience do they expect? Do they get that experience every time? Is that experience remembered when they receive their next communications?
All great brands share one thing in common: all of their marketing communications reflects their brand. This includes loyalty marketing. If your dealership is known for aggressive pricing and blow-out sales, and your latest loyalty program e-mail fails to mention pricing anywhere, or instead displays a cozy image of a family around the dinner table, that message will not resonate with your customers. They may not understand why, but it simply won’t ring true. Or, if your dealership is known for its no-pressure sales process but you are sending out e-mails with aggressive sales messages, chances are you are eroding your customers’ trust.
When customers buy a brand, they buy its values and promises, and feel that their expectations are aligned with the company. The goals of your marketing messages are to meet those expectations and continue to reinforce that alignment with your brand. Loyalty communications provides an opportunity to connect with your customers on a regular basis. Like customer loyalty, building brand awareness is an ongoing process—but an important one to ensure long-term success.
Do your marketing messages reflect your brand? In what way?
What are your customers’ expectations when they visit your dealership?
Does your marketing attempt to meet those expectations?
Has one of your favorite “brands” ever disappointed you and if so, did they ever win your business back? How so?
It’s that time of year when giving takes priority over receiving. Most dealerships I know are extremely generous when it comes to charitable causes, but there’s no need to be humble about it. The more you engage your customers in your holiday gift drives, the more you will be building loyalty with them.
In this recent survey by the American Red Cross, most consumers say they plan to give to their favorite charities despite the slow economy. 79% of people say that they would rather have a donation in their honor than to get a gift they wouldn’t use; and 70% plan to give as much as they did last year. Enabling customers to give contributions through your store’s program is one way to bring customers in, start conversations and create mutual goodwill that can last well into 2013.
Here are a few ideas to build loyalty and tie-in promotions to your current loyalty program around the holidays:
1) Send an e-mail campaign to your current customer base highlighting which causes you’re involved in and how they can donate. At the same time, promote your loyalty rewards program for 2013 by offering to donate something in their name if they become a member, or giving them “free” points to join.
2) Take advantage of end-of-the-year crowds by ramping up sales efforts for pre-paid maintenance plans. What better gift can a person give than a year’s worth of peace of mind? Again, maybe you can tie an incentive such as a donation to a charity of their choice when they sign up for a pre-paid maintenance program.
3) Create a fun, loyalty-building campaign like this “Christmas Cookie” cookbook that Howdy Honda produced last year. Every person who sent in or posted a Christmas cookie recipe on Howdy Honda’s Facebook page received 10,000 bonus rewards points towards any service of their choice.
The holiday season can add a lot to a dealership’s bottom line; but there’s nothing wrong with leveraging a little goodwill so you can build customer loyalty and set yourself up for a great 2013 as well.
How are you building loyalty with your customers this holiday season?
Have you ever created a fun, loyalty-building campaign? If so, what have you done?