Choosing the right partner to build your loyalty program

If you’re taking the time to read this, let me say thank you. I know you time’s valuable. Now, let’s get to the good stuff:

I am biased, but I think we offer the most fluid, integrated loyalty program solutions for not just dealerships, but for many industries. However, if you’re shopping around, you should check a few things. I’ve been in rewards-based marketing the better part of two decades. A word of advice when shopping for a partner to help you with your loyalty program:

  1. Check their website. Is it responsive? You really can’t fancy yourself a customer engagement specialist if your website isn’t at least mobile friendly.
  2. Check their references. Are they easy to work with? Flexible?
  3. Check which industries they work in. A group that works in multiple industries can best advise you on what’s working across the board.
  4. Are they flexible? Do they offer a boxed solution or are they eager to work with you to accomplish your goals?
  5. Do they keep customers engaged? Do they offer customized solutions and email marketing with 50% open rates (or more)?
  6. Is the program easy to use? Automated? Do you have to have an employee monitor it, or is it fully automatic?
  7. Is there ongoing support? Do they have a team of marketing professionals ensuring the success of your program?

That’s all for now. If you require help or want someone to bounce ideas off of, give me a call.

Why so serious?

Car seller with car in a motor show.
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Obviously, one of my jobs is to earn business. Since changing from operations mode a few months back, nothing has been more fun to me than that, at least not since my days in automotive (of course). First thing I did was try to develop a sales process that was the most effective. Any good sales process is going to be picking up the phone and reaching out to dealers, or dropping in to introduce myself and say hello.

More times than not, I get the door slammed in my face. That’s ok, it’s part of the process and those not willing to hear me out probably wouldn’t make good partners anyway. It is funny to me though – in an industry so heavily loaded on the sales side, why wouldn’t a decision maker appreciate the sales process, and at least give a guy an opportunity to earn their business (yes, I said earn, not win)? If you don’t talk to service providers, how do you know you’re getting the best products? Interesting concept to me, especially seeing how many car salesman flock to my car when I pull on to a lot. Frequently, the response I get is, “I don’t talk to salespeople without an appointment.”

Salesperson? Nah. I’m just a guy trying to get our name out there in the industry. But I digress.

Back to the sales process. I reached out to industry friends, colleagues, even vendors (yes, even vendors have vendors) to get their input. I took the time. I developed the process and follow it to the letter.

In the process of developing the process, I discovered something astonishing (that’s sarcasm). Dealers hate being pitched. Probably the reason for the door getting slammed in my face.

When I do get the opportunity to talk to a dealer, I don’t pitch. Pitching is so old school anyways, and our competitors are doing that. I try to find the pain points, any way that we can help. I talk about our product, the value it brings, the responsiveness of our company, the cutting-edge technology, and the relationships that we’ve built. They might like it, they might not.

So, I’m curious – what’s your sales process like? Are you showing value? Do you have a “why buy” statement for your salespeople? If not, you better get on that. Your customers are probably sick of being pitched too.

Need help with your “why buy”? Call me. Conversations are free.

Click here if you liked this story and are considering a loyalty program

I bought a car yesterday

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Well, I didn’t. My girlfriend did. But, as I am simultaneously a GREAT boyfriend and also an auto marketing guy, I jumped at the opportunity to help her/observe the car buying experience first-hand..

I had the privilege of observing not only the deal happening at our desk, but we also dropped in during the middle of negotiations at the desk next to us. The sales guy was getting beat up pretty bad. Back and forth he went with the customer. “That’s the lowest price, I can’t go down any lower.” The customer wasn’t having it and kept pressing for a lower price.

The salesman huffed and puffed. He comes back, sits down, more arguing with the customer. Up from his desk, off to see the manager. He comes back, sits down, more arguing with the customer.

Over, and over again. I lost count how many times this salesman went off and came back.

How much were they arguing about? $100. ONE. HUNDRED. DOLLARS. You read that right – on a $27k vehicle purchase, the customer was arguing over a 0.3% price difference.

Finally, the customer caved. The salesperson reaches out his hand, and exhaustingly says, “congratulations” and shakes the customer’s hand.

By Contrast, our deal was far different. After my girlfriend picks out her car, we go to close the deal. The salesman comes in about $500 higher than we wanted, even after coming down in price. She’s not having it, and she’s a tough negotiator. So our salesman says, “How about if I throw in 2 years of oil changes and car washes?” She’s no dummy and does the math, and it made sense. She agrees. We drove out of there in a 2015 Accord. We left that dealership with smiles on our faces. She’ll return to get her service done there, and will probably buy her next car there too.

So what happened? Same car, same dealership, two vastly different customer experiences. Salesman Grumpy sold the car on price. Our guy sold on value. He closed at a higher gross, made a higher commission, and had a happier customer.

So how are you selling cars? If you’re selling solely based on price, you’re probably handing yourself a pay cut and the relationship with your customers probably isn’t great either.

When it comes to closing that deal, my advice is this: talk about what kind of value your dealership brings. Are you offering car washes? Free oil changes? How about discounts in the community or gas? If you’re offering these things and not talking about them at the point of sale, you may as well not offer them at all.

Need help presenting value to your customers? I’ve got a ton of ideas. Give me a call or shoot me an email.

Click here if you liked this story and are considering a loyalty program

5 reasons your dealership needs a loyalty program

I ain’t gonna lie, I’ve never sold a car in my life. I’M A MARKETING GUY. In my 20 year marketing career I’ve worked with dozens of industries, with only one type of marketing initiative standing out above all others: A LOYALTY / POINTS PROGRAM. Customers are almost twice as likely to complete a desired buying cycle because of it.

5 more reasons your dealership needs a loyalty program.

1. Gone are the days of Green Stamps and manual tracking processes. Your loyalty program should run as a back-end process, freeing up your staff to do what you hired them to do…make money.

2. Eckhart Tolle said “Evolve or Die.” We live in a time where virtually any information is readily available at your fingertips. Consumers are driven by the need for real-time information. If you’re still operating on the antiquated idea that you can retain customers by relationship only, you’re bound to lose them to your competition. I can guarantee you that your steepest competitors are operating a loyalty program that can provide visibility into spend and rewards TO YOUR CUSTOMER, on their phones!

3. Points and rewards make your customer “sticky.” They tie your customers back to your dealership after a transaction; creating a currency redeemable only at the dealership.

4. What are you doing that differentiates you from your competitors? Everybody has free WiFi, coffee, lounge…even the commercials struggle to be memorable. How can YOU provide a different customer experience? Creating a dealership loyalty program puts you into a different league from competing brands in your market.

5. Price is an issue in the absence of value. When you present true value in the way of a loyalty program, you can sell cars and service for MORE than your competitors and at a higher rate.

Secrets to getting the most out of your customer loyalty program

As you know, at re:member group we specialize in automotive loyalty marketing. And along the way we have learned what makes an automotive loyalty program a success. In today’s fast paced, highly digitalized world, it isn’t enough to just create a loyalty program and hope it does all the heavy lifting for you.

The creation of a successful loyalty program takes into consideration how it interacts with customers, and how well it delivers their wants and needs. Loyalty isn’t a scheme it’s a relationship, and like any relationship, it takes time and hard work, but it is always worth the effort. Studies suggest it costs more to acquire a new customer than to keep an old one, so why not take advantage of that!

Things to think about when designing your program

Set a goal that you want your customer to achieve

For example, if you have an automotive loyalty program in place, your ultimate goal for them may be to redeem their points on a future service, or vehicle purchase. Without a goal for them to reach, they will have no motivation to earn points.

Think about what behaviors you want to reward them for.

Do you want to reward them for filling out a survey, getting their vehicle serviced, referring a friend? Decide on some behaviors that would benefit your company, and let them know how much you appreciate it by rewarding them.

Give them a head start

Do you want to reward them for the simple act of engaging, such as activating their rewards account? Giving them an easy way to earn points when they get started is like giving them a head start. We all know how the endowed progress effect works right? If not, it’s rather interesting, and you should read more about it here.

Make it easy for them to interact

Some loyalty programs make it so confusing to figure out how many points you have, or how you can go about redeeming those points. With our loyalty programs we make sure it is easy for the customer to keep track of their points, redeem points, and understand all the ways they can earn rewards. They can login and see all the important information about their account from any device, making it easy for them to be engaged in the program.

Continue to engage with your customers

We have all done it, signed up for a rewards program just to get a specific discount or benefit, and then it leaves our mind, and we never think about it again. Without interaction, a customer either loses interest, or forgets all about it. That’s why it is important to interact with them by sending them emails, or offers in the mail that allow them to take advantage of special discounts or events. If you treat them like they are important and not just another number, they will be more likely to be repeat customers.

Engaging the customer with a relevant message builds trust and keeps the company on the top of their mind for when they are ready to purchase in the future. According to Retail TouchPoints a customer’s overall satisfaction with a loyalty program is 4.6 fold higher when they receive relevant communications.

Continue to evaluate the existing strategies

Listen to things your rewards members are saying. We get customer feedback on a daily basis in our customer service department. Another way to get honest and helpful feedback is to send out surveys. Find out what existing strategies have been successful. Consistently listen to your customers on an ongoing basis to revise the program as needed. If you can understand the customer needs, then it is easy to craft a valuable customer loyalty program.

When a customer loyalty program is done right, it can be very rewarding. But if done wrong, it is just a waste of time. If you already have a customer loyalty program with us, hopefully you learned some helpful tips on getting the most out of your program. If you are interested in setting up a loyalty program for your business, or would like some more information, please give us a call at 952-224-8000.

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