How New Car Owner Clinics Can Foster Customer Loyalty

In dealing with the customer experience, all too often the conversation centers on the customer’s buying path from initial contact through the sale. What many businesses don’t think about, however, is that the sale is only the start of the relationship. Customer loyalty is built through a consistent customer-centric experience. In the retail automotive space, this is more important than ever when dealing with customers in the service drive, as potential revenue in service outweighs sales by far. One way dealerships can begin to foster a relationship and lead the customer down the path to customer loyalty is through new car owner clinics.

 

Vehicles today contain more technology than ever before, with manufacturers increasingly installing many of these technologies even on base model vehicles. By the time the customer has finished paperwork in financing, oftentimes they are simply ready to leave. They then tend to get rushed through the delivery process and the features of their new vehicle are not covered in enough detail for the customer to truly understand and appreciate their use.  And have you seen the average user’s manual? They are huge! Few customers have the time to really go through and learn all the ins and outs to get the best out of all the new vehicle’s features. This can be frustrating to new car owners, especially those that aren’t technologically savvy.

 

New car owner clinics offer many benefits for both dealerships and their customers. First, it gets the customer back into the store with fresh eyes and ears. Dealers can then spend the needed time reviewing the car’s features and assisting the customer in setting up things they have found challenging. In addition, it provides the dealership the opportunity to introduce the customer in a more formal setting to the management team and service advisors. This allows for a more comprehensive introduction than perhaps existed during the delivery process, when a brief introduction may have occurred.

 

Facilitating these clinics on a normal schedule can provide increased opportunity to bond with these new customers when they are not worn down from the sales process. In addition, it allows management and service personnel dedicated time to focus solely on these new owner’s needs, wants and questions, when they are not distracted with their daily tasks or duties.

 

Some dealerships make these formal affairs, offer catered food and beverages, but that is not a necessity. Dealers that simply set aside the time to spend with customers will find that these new owners appreciate it. It demonstrates that the dealership is still there to assist them after the sale. Simply extending the offer to customers, making them aware that these clinics are available and that they are welcome to attend, shows your customers that you care, regardless of whether they choose to attend.

 

If you’re not already holding new owner clinics, think about trying this. You’ll be surprised at who shows up, and how much they appreciate your efforts.

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Comment by steven chessin on December 15, 2015 at 1:56pm

Mike -  OK now you've done it -  you hit-on a sore subject I believe in. Bad marketing and B.S., irrelevant "newsletters". The cure for those --- is -- that "unnecessary formal affair". Up to that point I was 100% on-board with everything you wrote. You want to make a cannonball splash when you earned it and deserve  it.  -- And yes, as you stated correctly --- simply calling them to invite them  - whether they attend or not  -- scores points. Cynics question car dealers' motives as selfish and contrived, but a fun party / informative party is "all good".

In the example below I featured my "BDC Rep -Christina", who I specifically hired for her pro-TV skills that were honed daily with customer communications. This was 10 years ago -- before Youtube - and before I really understood why dealers don't -- and won't  -- have "Customer Appreciation Events". Now I understand that the issue is QUANTIFYING the A-to-B direct cause and effect R.O.I. As with most advertising and marketing much of the results are between difficult and impossible to track accurately. Managers feel comfortable with a sales commission but the cost of a party and a week of effort and cost turning it into a newsletter is too incalculable. Which is exactly what will keep ACTUALLY NECESSARY MARKETING  from being perceived as such.It takes a more progressive and innovative dealer to see that --- people watching other people enjoy and appreciate convinces them that they will  also enjoy and appreciate doing business here.

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