It is a well-known fact that today most customers that are in need (or want) of a new vehicle begin their shopping experience by going to the internet. It is probable that most people begin at the Internet for almost every major item they purchase. So it just makes a lot of sense that an automotive dealer use the same technology to market to his current customer base. But, where does he start?

First, it is imperative that the Dealer do a review of his marketing expense and find the few things he is spending dollars on that either he can’t determine what the results are, or what he has “always done” but just is not working and giving a fair return on those spent dollars.

Secondly, the Dealer must be bold and decide to do something different from the norm and invest the found dollars into a marketing program that rewards his current customers with the goal of making them customers for life.

Third, put together a package of benefits that will give the customer reasons to use the Dealer for all their vehicles needs over the period of ownership. Studies have shown that a customer that returns to the selling dealer for all their vehicle servicing will re-purchase from that dealer over 85% of the time.

Finding a company that is experienced in providing the guidance and administration is critical in ensuring success.

Dealership For Life (DFL) is just such a marketing program. For over 7 years DFL has been helping dealers retain the customer after the initial sale by rewarding the customer with benefits that are exclusive to that Dealer. Using the internet to stay in regular communication with the customer on a variety of topics pertaining to their membership in a rewards program and issues relative to their vehicle is the technology of choice.

Once a Dealer makes a commitment to reward his current customers a series of standard communications is set up. The capture of the customers email address is done at the point of sale. This sets up what happens after the customer drives home in his new vehicle.

First, he will receive an email directing him to their own personal Web Site where they will be able to manage their account, check points accumulation and review service history.
Next, he will receive a personal “Thank You” letter from the Dealer welcoming him to the Rewards Program.
He will receive a sales survey where he can let the dealer know about the purchase experience. They will be rewarded with points for returning this survey. (keep in mind that this is a Dealer survey and should not be confused with the manufacturer survey, which they will receive within the first couple of weeks of ownership)
At the beginning of each month of ownership the Dealer will email a statement showing the customers points records and service history
Occasionally Dealer will send, via email, special “First to Know” announcements about what is happening at the dealership. These will include specials on service, parts and accessories that will enhance the customers driving experience.
Each customer gets a personal web site. This is a dealer branded private and secure vehicle website. It was designed to allow the customer to easily take control of managing all aspects of his Rewards Program.

Features on the Rewards Web Site customers can explore are:

My Points – See the value of the points they earn in both Service and Sales.
My Benefits – A detailed explanation of what benefits they receive as a member of the Rewards Program-All at no additional charge!
My Service History – A detailed record of every service visit. Your customer will never have to wonder when and what was done to their vehicle. Dealer will provide all the details.
My Statement – Review an up to date statement of reward points earned through purchases, for one time and recurring events. They can also see a record of all points used.
Customer webpage also has links to all Dealer social media pages, Facebook and Twitter, so Customer can become a fan and remind their family and friends that they will be rewarded for introducing them to the Dealership.

Using the technology of the internet combined with a robust Loyalty Rewards Program, will pay dividends to the Dealer in the following areas (list not all inclusive):

Email capture rates go to 80% +, allowing all types of marketing to take place.
Repair Order count will increase due to a higher retention rate.
Retention of both New and Used Customers will more than double the National Average
With a strong Service department, the dollars generated per repair order will increase
Over a period of time dollars spent in traditional marketing will decrease
Create a sales environment that other dealers in the market area cannot compete with.
Because there is no increase in overall marketing dollars spent, sales become more competitive and will retain higher grosses.

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