Who doesn’t love free stuff? If your business has a loyalty program that allows customers to accrue rewards points, one of the best ways to encourage people to sign up is the promise of free stuff and/or valuable discounts down the road.
Customers who come into your business for products and services or who make purchases online are ideal prospects for a loyalty program, but what about the customers who haven’t visited your shop lately? What about friends of your customers?
Social media is a great way to spread the word about your loyalty program to potential customers who don’t know much about your business and who aren’t on your email lists. A loyalty program has the same appeal to them as it does to the customers who visit your store: free stuff! So promote the free stuff you do give away! Here are a few tips on how to do that:
1) Conduct a Facebook Poll: If your customers interact with your Facebook page, ask them what types of rewards they would prefer. People love to fantasize about getting stuff for free! Here’s an example:
Q: If you were a member of a loyalty program, which reward would you redeem your points to receive?
A. Restaurant gift certificate
B. Spa treatment
C. Rental car credits
D. Special members-only discounts
Another suggestion is to announce that you’re going to add a new rewards option and that you’re going to let your Facebook fans choose which reward it’s going to be. Then list the options in a poll.
2) Tweet About Point Redemptions: Send a tweet every time a customer redeems their loyalty points for a reward. For example, “Mrs. Jones just received 30% off her oil change,” or “Congrats to Sara J. who just received a $100 gift certificate to Outback steakhouse!” Add a link to information about your loyalty rewards program on your website. The idea here is to encourage your other Twitter followers to think, “Hey wait a minute! I want discounts. I want gift certificates. How do I get that?”
3) Employ Gamification: Run a Facebook contest for your loyalty program members. Encourage them to send in a photo of themselves enjoying their reward or ask them a question like, “If you could have any reward in the world, what would it be?” and have them post a photo of that reward. Whoever is selected as the winner gets more rewards points, of course. And all your Facebook fans who aren’t loyalty program members may just be tempted to sign up.
4) Award Your Fans: Run a loyalty program special just for your social media fans. Offer free rewards points to your Twitter followers and/or Facebook fans just for signing up (within a certain time frame) for your loyalty rewards program. The great thing about this type of promotion is that there is no obligation to buy anything up front, but once somebody signs up there’s a good chance they will want to continue to accrue more points. For your social media fans that are already loyalty program members, offer them extra rewards points if they come in to your store for a purchase within the next month.
It’s a proven fact: Loyalty program members spend more and add more revenue to a business’ bottom line every year, compared to non-members. So the more people you sign up, the more revenue you will get!
Do you have any additional ideas on how to use social media to promote your loyalty rewards program?
Have you ever used social media to promote your program? If so, what type of results did you get?
Customer loyalty is a topic that is more important than ever, as technology has created more consumer fragmentation, as well as creating message and brand overwhelm.
While it’s a critical strategic endeavor for every company, even some of the largest brands in the world make significant customer loyalty mistakes. As a small business, you may have even more at stake.
Here are three key ways that companies get their customer loyalty efforts backwards:
Source: CNBC.com, January 6, 2012. Author, Carol Roth.
Have you seen other businesses get customer loyalty wrong? What were they trying? Why did it fail? How did they recover?
What mistakes has your business made when trying to build customer loyalty? What did you learn in the process?
One of my favorite comedians is Bill Engvall, who does the “Here’s Your Sign” gags. According to Wikipedia, “Engvall describes people who ask questions to which the answers should be obvious, and in the process, Engvall shows these people to be stupid. With the tag, “Here’s Your Sign”, Engvall then metaphorically gives these people a sign declaring their stupidity as a warning to others interacting with this person.” (e.g. “A couple of months ago I went fishing with a buddy of mine. As we pulled his boat into the dock, I lifted up this big ‘ol stringer of bass and this idiot on the dock goes, ‘Hey, y’all catch all them fish?’ Nope. Talked ‘em into giving up.”).
Just as Engvall metaphorically awards people’s signs of stupidity, other arenas of life give off similar warning signs that can be just as easily identified if we’re paying attention.
As business managers and/or owners, we all like to think we’ve got a pulse on employee morale, which is a critical component to how successful a business is. As someone who makes a living knowing what makes customers loyal, I know for a fact that if a business’ employees aren’t happy, chances are that business will not have happy customers. Front line employee interactions with customers can make or break those customer experiences. Unhappy customers lead to fewer repeat customers and referrals, which eventually impacts the bottom line.
Yet occasionally, even the best business owners and managers are guilty of becoming overly absorbed with a particular issue, burying their head in the sand in response to a problem or just being too darn busy to pay attention. They may miss those signs that should warn them when dysfunction is stealthily creeping into their corporate culture, ready to apply a long, slow choke-hold that will lead to revenue decline.
So, in case you haven’t been paying attention to your corporate culture lately, here’s your sign!
1) If you haven’t changed with the times, here’s your sign! If the higher-ups at your store continue to do things because that’s the way they’ve always been done, or if they refuse to consider a new technology or marketing program because “we sold plenty of cars twenty years ago without that,” they need to get with the times. Today’s marketplace is very different than it was twenty years ago.
2) If you change with the times every week, here’s your sign! In contrast to never changing with the times, some managers change direction every week based on an article they read, a suggestion from a friend, news that a competitor is doing something or even just on which way the wind blows. Sending employees scrambling in a different direction every week is counter-productive. Set long term goals, set programs and processes in place and stick with them for at least six months to give them a chance.
3) If it takes too long to get stuff approved, here’s your sign! Efficient businesses demand efficient processes. If it takes a committee to get anything approved, or if employees aren’t following the processes in place, it’s a problem and there’s probably a reason. Do your processes need to be reviewed? What’s really slowing down employee productivity?
4) If you’re not rewarding your employees for innovation or hard work, here’s your sign! In general, it’s fair to expect employees to do their job without complaint. But if someone comes up with an innovative idea, or if an employee delivers results that you know must have taken extra hard work, reward them! Nobody wants to work somewhere if they don’t feel appreciated.
5) If you have high turnover, here’s your sign! Now I realize that the retail and automotive industries have higher turnover than most, but why is that? If you have more employees quitting than are leaving because of lay-offs, chances are there’s something wrong with your corporate culture. What is it? Conducting exit surveys is one way to find out, or it may just require a little digging.
Fostering a positive work environment makes for happy employees, which in turn leads to happy-and loyal-customers.
Have you taken a close look at your corporate culture lately?
What do you think are signs of poor employee morale?
Real Results: Clever iPad Promotion & New UltraCare PPM Program Helps Hare Chevrolet Crush Aftermarket Service Shop Competition
I have been doing regular blogs about successful promotions in dealerships that come to my attention. In this blog I wanted to let you know about a prepaid maintenance (PPM) plan promotion that was extremely successful at Hare Chevrolet.
Hare Chevrolet has improved customer retention and increased its customer-pay RO count by 12% since instituting a dealer-branded prepaid maintenance program earlier this year. The program, which launched in March and is dealer administered, has produced an average of $171 upsell on every customer pay retail repair order.
The dealership is in a highly competitive market place surrounded by four after-market repair shops. The program has helped the dealership come out on top of its competition by ensuring service customers return to the dealership for future vehicle service needs.
The program, which focuses on selling maintenance plans to existing customers in the service lane, was kicked off in March with a service advisor sales incentive of an Apple iPad if they hit a quota of 22 plans sold. The incentive proved successful with all five service advisors exceeding their quotas resulting in 127 UltraCare plans being retailed to existing service lane customers.
The dealership has continued the success of the incentive program by building in PPM sales as part of the service advisors’ pay plans. Hare Chevrolet now averages 62 plans sold per month, 80% of which are sold out of service and 20% out of F&I. Customers are much more likely to purchase a maintenance plan in service when they don’t have competing F&I products to consider and the loan to value issue is gone.
The dealership sells the plans at a cost basis. Rather than try and make a profit they are using these plans as a great retention technique, which is working well with retention rates increasing about 5% per month. However, an added bonus is that the average customer that visits for a simple oil change ends up spending an additional $171 per RO, so it is incredibly profitable as well.
Based in Noblesville, Indiana, Hare Chevrolet continues to hold the title of the country’s longest-lived family-owned vehicle retailer. Today the Chevrolet dealership sells about 400 cars per month and employs 150 people. Current managers Courtney Cole and Monica Peck, who are the great-great-great granddaughters of original founder Wesley Hare, offer 50 service stalls, and about 1,000 new Chevrolets in its sales lot.
The latest in technology has allowed the dealership to keep in front of the pack in a fiercely competitive market, while also maintaining loyal customers.
What employee incentives do you use to promote upselling?
What techniques have you used to differentiate your store from your competition?
Companies that provide employees with generous benefits, including contributing more to retirement funds and absorbing health insurance hikes, are often financially healthier because of it.
A study released Wednesday found employers that offered substantial programs focused on the long-term financial health of their workers saw a host of business dividends as a result, everything from lower turnover to better customer service.
Harvard Business Review Analytic Services surveyed 58 of the 100 companies named to “The Principal 10 Best” list over the past decade and also conducted interviews with executives from 20 employers included on the list. Three quarters of those polled reported that benefits contributed to employee retention and 72 percent said they impacted employee loyalty.
The survey was commissioned by the Principal Financial Group, although companies studied did not necessarily use Principal services.
Despite the tough economy in recent years, firms in the study said they had maintained or increased their benefits packages, including raising retirement contributions in some cases. While some did have their employees pay more for health insurance benefits, the majority ate the increased costs.
Virtually all the firms agreed that they have a “strong sense of responsibility when it comes to providing benefits that protect the financial well-being” of employees and their families. When asked to identify the most significant thing they are doing to impact employees’ financial security, nine out of ten respondents mentioned retirement programs and cited generous employer contributions.
The majority of companies surveyed also provided one-on-one financial help for employees for retirement planning and have added wellness programs.
As a result of the generous benefits, the employers surveyed said they saw a host of benefits, including:
The question of whether these employers are more likely to have lucrative benefits because they’re successful, or they’re successful because they provide such perks, wasn’t answered by the study, said Luke Vandermillen, senior vice president of retirement and investor services with the Principal Financial Group. However, he said there is “a paternalistic feeling that cuts across these companies.”
The Harvard study shows great benefits are “not only good for employees, but good for those companies that provide well-rounded broad and deep benefit programs,” he said.
Source: Life Inc. on Today, May 9, 2012. Author, Eve Tahmincioglu.
Have you seen a correlation between employee loyalty and customer loyalty?
How solid is your employee benefit package?
What can you change in the way you positively impact your employees’ lives that could benefit your company as a whole?