Get In Their Brains

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How do you get inside the brain of an average customer? Give them the chance to provide feedback of course. If you don’t give a person the chance to provide an opinion, how will you know what needs to be done in your company? It is simple. One person can’t successfully grow a business. It takes many people to provide different aspects of the puzzle. A person once said, “Two are better than one.” Two masterminds are better than one. What the heck, even three are better than two. This same principle can be applied to your customers. How else will you know what they are thinking about your business?

A customer holds all the key pieces to what it takes to build a loyal base of fans. They are the eyes, ears, and mouth of a business. They know what could be changed about the product, they know what they like, and they know what could use some improvement in the experience. It is always important to utilize surveys, emails and social media to get a feel for what they are thinking. The number one thing is to get them to feel connected to your company. There is no better way to make sure your customer’s experience is top notch.

There are many things you can do to make sure you are hearing all thoughts and opinions. Provide your customers with an incentive to write a review. We all know that word travels fast, whether it is bad or good. There are emails and surveys dedicated to getting the most information you can gather about your services. If you have a call center, have your employees ask questions. “How was your experience with (so and so company) today?” “If you could change one thing about (so and so company), what would it be?” This way it comes straight from the customer’s mouth. Often times, this can be the best way to get feedback. If you want to grow your company, make sure you are asking questions. After all, the customer is what makes your business. Without them, there would be no growth. Have you gotten a handle on what they are thinking?

 

Creating Customers For Life

Focusing on customer retention is one of the most rapidly growing trends in the automotive industry. Manufacturers are driving retention, and with good reason. Newly appointed GM CEO, Mary Barra shared her thoughts in a 2012 statement, “We believe a single percentage point improvement in sales retention is about 25,000 vehicles or about $700 million annually, so it’s a pretty big financial incentive.” A single percentage point!

While retention to an automotive brand is all well and good, I can still buy that same vehicle from any number of area dealers. The same holds even more true in fixed ops. Not only are we competing for that customer’s service business with other dealerships, we are fighting the independent shops as well as the quick-lube/tire/brakes shops.

What sets your dealership apart? The answer we hear time and time again: we’ve got the best people/parts/products. The best sales/service/selection. The truth may very well be that you do, but your competition is saying the exact same thing. And it is falling on deaf ears. You’re dealing with a more informed consumer than ever before. At the click of a mouse they can learn everything about your dealership, your special offers, what people think about you. They can do the same for your competition.

So how do we attract, create and keep a customer that is loyal to your dealership? The first step is truly separating yourself from the other guys. What are you offering the customer that the competition can’t? We need to stop talking about price and start talking about value. How are you making your customer’s life better? What are you providing that makes it worth choosing your dealership every time?

Think about the last flight you took. The last hotel you stayed in. The credit card you used to pay for those. Did you earn points? Do these multi-billion dollar industries offer a rewards program simply because it’s cute? Come on – these are banks! The truth is that a loyalty initiative is one of the most effective tools available to drive more business, more often.  In today’s economy, a customer is expecting their dollar to go further and are willing to go to great lengths to continue doing business with an organization that rewards them for their loyalty. How far will they go? Rockwell Clancy, VP of Financial Services at J.D. Power and Associates had this to say – “Consumers will often pay higher prices, or stick with a service that’s unsatisfying, simply because they’ve started earning points.”

What does this look like in the auto dealer world? The Walser Automotive Group in Minneapolis, MN, together with the re:member group, created the Walser Rewards program to attract and keep their most profitable customers. It couldn’t be easier to play. Members enroll for free, simply by providing an email address. Once enrolled, 10% of customer pay service work goes into a bank account that they can redeem toward their next vehicle purchase. The results have been amazing – Walser found that Members of their program service more often and spend 40% more in service than non-Members. This resulted in a boost of $4.6 Million in additional service revenue in a 2011 study and it continues to grow every year. Better still – since these points are redeemable only toward a vehicle purchase, Walser is on target to sell over 1,000 vehicles in 2013 from points redemptions. This holistic approach to customer loyalty has helped Walser attract and keep loyal, profitable customers in both service and sales, all while delighting the customer.

Customers that are truly loyal to your dealership are going to do 4 very important things that have a big impact to your bottom line. 1) They visit your dealership more often – not just for the major repairs, but for all repairs. 2) They spend more. A loyal customer is less price-sensitive and more likely to agree to recommended services. 3) They give great feedback. You’ll learn powerful insights from your customers and see strong online reviews – thereby attracting more customers. 4) They refer their friends and family. There is no greater form of advertising than a personal recommendation from a happy customer.

A customer becomes loyal when you present a value that the competition can’t match. When you exceed a customer’s expectations – not simply by satisfying them.

Nate Sieveking is president of the re:member group, the auto industry leader in customized loyalty solutions (www.remembergroup.com). You can email him at nate@remembergroup.com.

What is Your Break Point?

I’m incredibly loyal to my airline. Its been years since I even checked the competition’s pricing. Why? Because in a very competitive market, where the end result is always the same (I land at my destination) I know that prices are generally going to be with a narrow range. I choose my airline every time for one reason – the frequent flier miles. When you get that free trip from Minneapolis to St. Petersburg, FL in a snowy November – there’s no beating it!

Today however, I reached my break point. While looking to book business travel, the dates and times just didn’t add up. When I needed to land, I found the tickets from my airline were 50% higher than times that simply would not work. 50% higher! I reluctantly did my cross shopping and found the tickets with another carrier at the right date/time matching the best price of my airline at the wrong time. And so with a heavy heart, I booked with the competition. No frequent flier miles this time around.

The same can be true in any industry – when the product is essentially the same (a Toyota Camry is a Camry where every you buy it), and in a competitive market, 50% more is simply too much to justify the price vs.

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the loyalty factor.

Now luckily for us,. we’ll rarely ever see a scenario in the retail sector where the same product would vary by 50% between competitors. Loyalty programs however have proven time and again that a customer will spend more (even for unsatisfying service) if they are earning rewards. We’ve heard story after story of dealerships selling a vehicle for $500+ more than the competition, simply because the customer had points to cash in. This means a loyalty program can drive higher margins, while still closing sales. It’s a win-win scenario – as long as we’re not crossing the Break Point.

So what is your Break Point? Where’s the magical threshold that makes you leave your favorite business? Or is price the only factor that would cause you to defect? Leave us your thoughts in the comments. If you’d like to discuss customer loyalty and the huge impact it can have on your business, give us a call at 866-414-2582.

Also – do yourself a favor and go see Point Break. You can thank me later.

 

Nate Sieveking

President

nate@remembergroup.com

It’s Wedding Season! (aka It’s Loyalty Season)

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I am in that time in my life where it seems like every summer I have at least 5 weddings to attend.  Don’t get me wrong, they are fun, but they pile up and get very expensive.  Being in the wedding is even worse, there are bachelor/ette parties, couple showers, wedding showers, rehearsal dinners, brunches, pictures, and the list goes on and on.

Now, while some wedding events are free, there is still a hefty price tag for the wedding gift and the wedding itself.  So why do we pay so much for such events?  Your answer: Loyalty. Can marketers take any hints from this?  Maybe not, but I’m sure gonna try.

1.    Weddings are the ultimate showing of loyalty: I’m not going to go into the roots and meanings of marriage, but it is the ultimate showing of loyalty between 2 people. Outsiders want to be a part of it, and have no problem supporting the cause emotionally and monetarily. Families choose to spend a year’s salary for a one night party signifying a lifetime of happiness. Make your product omit the sense of a lifetime of happiness, and your customers will spend money for that kind of party. Catch my drift?

2.    Get a cause people can believe in – weather it is points, discounts, rewards or anything alike, customers (and companies) must BELIEVE in what they are doing in order to be effective.  Customers don’t want to be a part of something that is seen as an afterthought or merely a background gimmick. It has to be real, and people have to feel the love coming from your company and employees.

3.    People by stuff for people they like – this is Business 101. If you are friendly, respectful, and passionate, about your company and/or product- people are more likely to buy from you. Same goes for customer service. It is a known fact that people will shell out extra cash if they like and trust the person they are buying from. Show the people some love!

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