Is one of your best customers sitting in your service department lounge right now? Many vehicle salespeople will answer: "uh I dunno - why?"
The fact is that many sales consultants don't make use of the CRM tools they have at their disposal to nurture their previous customers, increase loyalty, increase retention, shorten trade cycles, and increase sales today.
In most dealerships it is a pretty simple thing to access the list of customers booked for service appointments. Many dealerships will pre-pick parts for the work-order the evening before so the technician can hit the ground running as soon as the car arrives.
The information is there for proactive salespeople to know:
• Which of my customers are coming in?
• What is their service appointment time?
• What repair or maintenance are they coming in for?
• What is their approximate odometer?
• How far are they into this trade cycle? Are they likely in an equity position?
With this information we can plan a "chance meeting" in the service department or even better, make a proactive phone call ahead of the appointment. On the call we can suggest having a coffee together when they come in, review the desirability of their current car to used car shoppers, and suggest trying out a replacement.
This sure isn't a new strategy. The best form of retention has always been selling them a replacement for their current car before they even enter the "shopping mode".
Twenty-plus years ago I was surprised to find a sales consultant working in a medium-sized Prairie market was the number one volume salesperson but only worked half of the year. His family was in the farming business so he helped out there from seeding to harvest but only sold cars full-time for the winter months. His secret for success (even before the big-data of CRM) was to arrive at the dealership early when the service manager was opening the doors.
Neil had his coffee in the service area and was there to meet his many previous customers as they dropped their vehicles off. Nice casual chit-chat about them, family, and cars. He probably gave more rides to work than the shuttle driver!
All the other salespeople stumbling in at 9 or 9:30 thought he was crazy but 3-4 more sales a month came from the activity which consistently put him well ahead on the sticker board.
Again it comes down to what activities produce the best result. Nurturing a customer who already knows, likes, and trusts you or waiting for a stranger to walk-in? Waiting for your customers to re-enter the market (and hopefully call you) or proactively managing their trade cycle?
It’s your choice but remember your best retention comes from taking them out of the market before they are in - with a new car!