Database mining, or organic business development, is maximizing the opportunities that are sitting in a dealer’s database uncultivated or, to be frank, being ignored. These people are not being called; they’re not getting letters. They’re being left for the competition to call. Sure, the sales staff or BDC will call a customer in the days or weeks after they come in, but what about months or years later?

A lot of the same people that you’re paying to advertise to are already at your disposal. Cross-reference a recent direct mailer manifest with your database and look for overlap. You already have this customer information. Why pay for something you can do on your own?  I do recommend purchasing leads and dropping direct mail, but please make sure every new opportunity gets entered into your CRM and scheduled for follow-up going forward. This not only makes for quality marketing campaigns and lead conversion, but also provides future business.

Dealers should make database mining a part of daily work or action plans. Salespeople should make a minimum of 30 dials a day and hand in their appointment logs, and the pattern will become abundantly clear. Those selling the most cars set the most appointments.

Here are a few examples of data mining campaigns designed to drive traffic to the sales department:

Invite sold customers who are in an equity position in for a sales event.

Call all customers—sold, unsold and service—to enroll them in a friends-and-family, or referral, program.

Assign orphan owners to sales staff or BDRs for follow-up.

It’s important to mine a database for more than sales leads. We may not get 10 percent out of every area we look at, but we’ll get one percent from each of 10 different areas. When we’re getting one percent from each of 10 different areas inside the database, that’s a good return, so look at all past customers to determine how to drive traffic to sales, service and F&I. Here are some examples of data mining campaigns that could generate service revenue:

Market a promotion for a free oil change (or free oil and charge for the labor) to sold customers who have never been in the service department.  

Let service customers know about any upcoming recommended maintenance.

Contact people who only visited the service department once, to find out why they haven’t come back. Learning why people didn’t come back can help sell them on why they need to come back.

Call once-regular service customers who haven’t been back to the service department in a while. Their absence could point towards an expensive repair coming up that they’ve been putting off. The call could lead to a service appointment, or it could lead to a sale because now may be the time for the customer to consider trading up.

Remember, you don’t have to sell a car to sell a service contract. From your database, you can develop campaigns to drive traffic to the F&I office too. Here are a couple examples:

Follow-up with sold customers whose warranties have expired, and offer them your specials on extended service contracts.

Contact sold customers who barely needed cosigners when they purchased. Perhaps they don’t need one now. The customer might not realize he or she is now in a better position, and the cosigner would probably like to get off the loan.  

All these campaigns have the ability to lead to cross-promotion as well. For example, you may be calling someone about recommended maintenance, but the customer may be in the market for a new vehicle or know someone else who is. Similarly, you could turn your orphan owners into service customers. No harm in asking. It just shows customers you care, which is likely to be a different experience for them.

The old saying, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care,” applies. Nothing shows we care more than a follow-up call. Following up with customers – sold and unsold – also keeps your dealership fresh in their minds. Showing you care really provides an opportunity for a dealership to differentiate itself from any other experience that their customers have had.

Also, remember to leave effective voicemails. Many voicemails will be left during data mining campaigns, and they really need to create some curiosity and sizzle so that they are quite different from any messages your competitors might be leaving. When sending a mailer to customers in the database, I suggest calling the person in advance to let them know to expect “something special” from you in the mail. That way, they are more likely to read the mailer when they receive it.

More and more dealers are cultivating the leads that are already in their database, and more are likely to join in. It’s almost like having a cellar that needs to be cleaned out. There’s a lot of good stuff down there that’s worth good money. You could be sitting on a gold mine.

Vol. 6, Issue 11

About the author

Glynn Rodean

President and CEO

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