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You’re Not Going to Create Brand Loyalty with Urgency

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

For many marketers, most consumer messages have long been based on some sort of sense of urgency. Take dealerships, for example. Even when the customer is in the dealership, everything is about the “big sale” and the threat of “buy now or lose this deal.”

The problem is, it is no longer effective. Consumers have become numb to these messages; the simple reason being that they don’t believe them! There’s always a big sale and consumers fully expect that, if they come in next weekend, or a month from now, there will still be a big sale and a good deal to be had. They believe this because they have all the information needed to confirm it through the many Internet resources available to them.

But what does this have to do with customer loyalty?

First, by continuously throwing out these messages, you thoroughly destroy whatever credibility you may have built prior to them coming in. Rightly or wrongly, consumers are already jaded when dealing with car dealerships. This is simply exacerbated if they come in only to be met with high-pressure salespeople extolling how the dealership only wants to earn their business “right now!” Not in the future. Not for life. Not even for another day.

Imagine going on a first date and telling them that tonight is the only chance they get to have a relationship with you. You’d probably get laughed at right before your date gets up and leaves you standing there with a disbelieving look.

Relationships with your dealership are no different. In fact, it’s much harder for a business to build a relationship with a customer than it is on a personal level. And, by beginning the relationship with a message of “this is your one and only chance,” you send a message contrary to the one you should be sending.

Customer loyalty is built on emotion. That’s why we spend our money on brands we love and that make us feel appreciated. Those brands don’t focus on immediacy, or messages of “right now!” Rather, their message is focused on long-term customer relationships by catering to emotions.

Think of the last commercial you saw that brought tears to your eyes. What about that business involved in philanthropic efforts that you care about?  Or, if nothing else, the one that always delivers excellent customer service and fulfills its brand promise? Those are the businesses which build loyalty organically and enjoy a stable base of loyal customers built on a strong foundation.

The next time your dealership is tempted to push a customer into deciding “right now,” consider how that will affect the long-term relationship you have yet to build. If lifetime customer value means anything to you, and you would like to see hundreds of thousands of dollars flow into your dealership from repeat, service and referral business, you may want to reconsider your tactics.

Of course, if you are only interested in the immediate gross profit and don’t care about the future, you may find yourself in an eternal search for the next date. And that may be a lonely journey.


The Fight Club: Why Your Dealership Should Have One

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

I know that in writing this article, I’m completely violating the first rule of the fight club. However, my guess is that your dealership doesn’t have one, so I’m willing to risk the wrath of Tyler Durden to help you get started in creating a fight club of your own.  

First, I’m not talking about the fight club that involves salespeople arguing over half-deals taking it “out back” to settle it. The fight club I’m talking about involves one simple truth: 

Your salespeople should be fighting to work in your service drive.   

You know this is true. I bet that you also fight tooth and nail to get your salespeople to work your service drive but, more importantly, to get them excited to do it!   

Look, you’re probably spending somewhere north of $5,800 per month on sales-related software, of which over 90 percent is dedicated to showroom or Internet sales. The average dealer also spends $28,000 per month on advertising. However, most dealers allocate less than 5 percent to service. Yet the average profit per vehicle retailed in service is almost 20 percent higher than walk-in or Internet sales. Why? Because the typical service customer doesn’t come prepared to buy, which means they haven’t had time to price shop you, or research all 24 touchpoints consumers supposedly visit!  

So, why does the average dealer have NO dedicated sales professional for service lane sales? 

Every dealer is going to fall into some sales from their service drive. But, if you’re sitting back thinking about how many service lane sales your store generates every month, that’s the exact opposite of what you should be thinking. Stop focusing on the ones you sold and shift your focus to the ones you didn’t! 

The main challenges in successful service lane sales are people and processes. Integrating a sales process into the service lane isn’t rocket science, but it must be tailored to service customers. Simply throwing a salesperson into the service drive, saying “Go get ‘em, tiger!” will only accomplish two things: it will alienate your service customers; and it will cost you more money from those salespeople drinking the “good” coffee you have for service customers. 

In addition, your service writers don’t have any skin in this game. For every customer you succeed at dragging out of service and selling a car to, that’s a repair order they don’t get a commission on. Sales and service have always butted heads, but that’s only because most dealerships don’t operate as a cohesive unit, but rather as two entities.  

Get your service advisors on board the sales train by including them in your sales meetings. Start spiffing them for bringing prime sales candidates to your attention — You know — that customer about to be presented with a $3,000 repair estimate. You might find that suddenly there is less friction and more cooperation between sales and service.  

Don’t throw that super-aggressive closer out there and expect results. Service customers are willing to listen, but they don’t want to feel harassed. In addition, blanket selling to your service customers is unwise. You should know who is coming in to service the next day. By reviewing the service appointments, you can identify customers that are great candidates for a new vehicle. Have value propositions waiting for them when they arrive. I’ve found the most effective sales personality in the service lane is your soft sell guy. The salesperson who presents a value proposition in a non-aggressive, fact-based way can avoid alienating service customers. The customer is then more open to listening to the proposition.  

By failing to have a good service sales process in place, most dealerships are not only missing out on additional sales, but those sales which are typically the most profitable. Gather the troops. Have a heart to heart. Get everyone on the same page. Train the best soft-sell sales candidates you have on how to handle service customers and put them in the service lane. Identify the best prospects and approach them with a previously prepared value proposition in a non-aggressive manner. You’ll find that your service to sales units increase, while holding some good profit. And that’s what it’s all about.  


The Essential Ingredient to Customer Loyalty

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

When it comes to customer loyalty, one thing I find that many businesses fail to analyze — and perhaps one of the most essential ingredients to earning and keeping customer loyalty – is quality.

Customers may love you and love your staff; they may keep coming into your beautiful facility packed with all kinds luxuries. But, in the end, if the output from their visit isn’t of the expected quality, you may quickly find that the customer’s eyes cloud over and they start to look at taking their business to your nearest competitor.

Examples of poor quality in service could include failing to fix a vehicle right the first time; forgetting to put the air filter in the car; communication errors; mistakes on the bill; or even something as small as returning the vehicle with a dirty carpet.

Sometimes the customer will inform you and you can immediately address the situation. But other times the customer may just stay quiet and/or not notice until later. Either way, there was a bump in the road for the customer because the service they received wasn’t of high enough quality.

Being reactive is much more expensive than being proactive. Think about it. When customer hiccups do occur, dealerships will often not only fix the problem, but also throw in something “extra” as an apology. That extra could be a free oil change, or a gift card. Regardless of what it is, those extras cost money and detract from revenue.

Dealerships with a quality control process in place that helps ensure they don’t happen in the first place, and identifies these issues before the customer even becomes aware of any problem, find less occurrences of poor quality work.

What does a quality control process look like? It could be as simple as having the service advisor inspect the vehicle before giving it back to the customer. Perhaps a second technician could do a once-over inspection after the work is completed, just to get a fresh set of eyes on the vehicle. In sales have a sales manager review the deal with a customer prior to sending it to F&I. This can help ensure nothing was missed, that the customer understands all the terms, and that it includes everything the customer has voiced they want included in the deal.

These simple stop-gaps installed within regular dealership processes can prevent issues from arising. Whether service or sales, many tasks are routine and the simple process of performing the same tasks day in and day out can lead to fatigue or carelessness. No dealership wants to make mistakes. But they do happen – it’s just part of being human.

To keep the highest quality possible, all staff need to be on the same page and share an ambition for quality, which is of utmost importance in the quest for customer loyalty.


Sometimes It’s the Small Things that Matter Most

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

In building customer loyalty, one of the first things that comes to mind is the customer experience. Many businesses focus on the overall experience and end up missing small things which detract from the customer experience and can even drive people away. Perhaps the bathroom was dirty, or the water cooler was empty. Or it could be something at the dealership which is not quite as obvious – such as emails.  

What? How can an email drive a customer away?  

The obvious way is by bombarding customers with irrelevant e-mails, or, what is now referred to as spam. However, this isn’t a blog about spamming customers.  

Let’s assume your dealership is sending out relevant emails, at appropriate times, via your CRM. Perhaps it’s time for the customer to service their vehicle, or the customer is a new prospect you are reaching out to for the first time. While there is typically a process set up in the CRM for these type of communications, it can be perilous to fail to pay attention to what’s happening in the virtual engagement between your dealership and the customer.   

An article on Business2Community explains that in email communications, simple things can detract from that communication and even turn the customer off. The article shares things that should be avoided in any email communication, as follows:  

  1. Spelling, grammar and language mistakes. 
  2. Emails that contained sensitive information. 
  3. Emails that don’t visually look like a brand’s website.  
  4. Emails that take too long to arrive in the inbox. 
  5. Emails that reach the SPAM box, rather than the inbox. 
  6. Emails that get categorized as a ‘promotion.’ 

Remember that how your email LOOKS is almost as important as what it SAYS. It’s not uncommon to find spelling, grammar and language mistakes in dealership templates. Those mistakes are then going out to every customer targeted for that message, making the dealership appear unprofessional to its customers. In addition, if the email design is completely different to the look and feel of the dealership’s website, that can cause a disconnect in the minds of the customer. It then either ends up ignored completely, or is not at all memorable.  

When communicating with a customer in real-time, time also comes into play. The customer is waiting for an answer to a question – perhaps, “What price can I get,” or, “Is my vehicle ready yet?” The longer it takes to receive an answer, the less pleased they will be with the dealership experience.  

Of course, the final hiccup is one that no dealership wants – namely, communications that go into the consumer’s SPAM mailbox. The instant you hear that customers are receiving your emails in SPAM, a red flag should rise. Actions should immediately be taken with your email provider to resolve this issue, as it could very easily cost revenue via a lost sale. 

It is important to not just sit back and trust that your communication tools are working properly. Regularly inspect to ensure they are. An easy way to keep up with how your communication tools are working is to input yourself into the CRM as a customer. Then let the processes happen just as they would for any customer. When those emails arrive, inspect them for any of the issues mentioned above.   

Don’t just sit back and rely on technology. Small interactional mistakes can create big problems when it comes to retention, loyalty and revenue. When analyzing the overall experience to improve it, make sure you’re not blind to the small things. Each piece of the puzzle needs to be in place before examining the result. Then you can truly know if you have a completed puzzle, or if a piece is out of place. 


You Don’t Have to Be Company 2nd to be Customer 1st

By Mike Gorun  //  Uncategorized  //  No Comments

While today’s businesses understand the need to provide an excellent customer experience, many don’t truly understand what customer experience means. What’s more, some don’t even realize they already have most of the things needed to provide a truly great customer experience.


According to an article published by Which-50, 61% of marketing leaders stated that their company has a CXO (Chief Experience Officer), or equivalent position. This alone illustrates the importance modern businesses place on customer experience. However, according to the article, many are misguided and tend to focus on crafting the experience, when what they should be focusing on is the customer’s needs and wants. The fact is, you can’t create a great customer experience if you don’t know what experience your customers want.


It’s easy to look at your business operations and decide what experience you think your customers will want. You may, however, be misguided by your knowledge and personal bias. Perhaps you think they want speed, when what they really want is service. Or vice versa. Unless you put the customer first; talk to them, ask them and then truly adopt the what they tell you they want, you’ll never have a great customer experience.


Having a customer-first business environment doesn’t mean that you neglect the company by putting it second. Rather, a great business knows and fosters an attitude that customers and company are equally as important. They know that they work together.


While this is all well and good, your dealership can’t jeopardize its livelihood for the sake of customer experience. If you do, you may have the happiest customers in the world staring at the “Out of Business” sign hanging on the door.


The opposite is just as true in that a dealership completely focused on revenue and the bottom line, with no regard for the customer, will also be forced out of business due to a lack of customers. For any business to thrive and grow, a symbiotic relationship should exist between healthy business revenue and satisfied customers.


How, then, are you supposed to focus on the customer, while also on your bottom line? Through a deep examination of how your dealership can financially support a great customer experience, and then deliver the experience your customers want.


Your dealership does not have to build movie theaters to provide a great customer experience. In fact, most great dealerships don’t have anything of the sort. The focus should be on the experience your customers want. Then analyze the tools you already have, along with affordable solutions you can acquire, that will enhance or improve the customer experience.


By approaching customer experience in this manner, your dealership should be able to create an improved customer experience that is financially sustainable. And that’s the only way for the customer experience to remain consistent.

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