Now is the time to protect loyal customers against the competition and position your dealership as a trusted partner as the market evolves.  - IMAGE: Getty Images

Now is the time to protect loyal customers against the competition and position your dealership as a trusted partner as the market evolves. 

IMAGE: Getty Images

Proactive dealers are pivoting towards repeat customers as the focus of outbound sales and service campaigns. With inventory shortages and historically high vehicle prices, it’s even more important to nurture and protect loyal customers against competitors to secure success in the short and long term. 

While we are immersed in the industry, many consumers don’t understand supply chain issues, the new practice of ordering a vehicle, or the long wait times they can expect for a new vehicle. On the service side, as people hold onto vehicles longer and shops back up for weeks, customers don’t understand the importance of booking in advance for a recommended service. 

You are your customers trusted resource — the vehicle experts that can explain the situation and offer solutions. Proactive outreach focused on providing the best customer experience is a strategic move to support your sales and service goals, now and in the future. 

Following are a few phone and email scripts your team can use to protect loyal customers against the competition and position your dealership as a trusted partner now and as the market evolves. 

1. Vehicle Ordering Campaigns

Ordering a vehicle is a foreign concept for most consumers, yet it’s gaining in popularity as inventory shortages continue. You need to let your customers know that you can still sell in-demand vehicles, even if they’re not on your lot. Use your CRM to pull a list of customers who bought within the last three years and/or have equity in their vehicles. This can also address the current inventory shortage by focusing outreach on vehicles you would like to purchase from your customer base or acquire through trade. Use the following phone script as a guide when you reach out to customers. You can also condense the message into an email, just remember to add links to your website and digital retailing tools. 

Sample phone script:

May I speak to [customer name]? Did I get you at a good time? This is [salesperson’s name] from [XYZ dealership]. I’m calling to thank you for your business and to give you a quick update on on-demand vehicles. You may have heard about inventory shortages due to supply chain issues. Many customers are ordering in-demand vehicles now because it will take a few weeks or months for them to arrive at our store. Have you thought about trading in your current vehicle? What time frame are you thinking? Ordering your next vehicle is easy and the bonus is that you get exactly what you want. I’m happy to help you at any time. You can also visit our website to learn more. Can I give you that address again? Do you have any questions? If you need anything at all, please give me a call. 

2. Digital Retailing Campaigns

The pandemic and consumer expectations have morphed traditional car buying into a hybrid of online and offline interactions. While 71% of consumers still want to buy in-person, there are many parts of the process they want to do online, including research, determining a final price, and financing. Yet, many need to be guided through the online process. Use the data in your digital retailing tool to pull a list of customers who started but did not finish the process. Create a campaign that encourages them to pick up where they left off, and even add instructional videos for each step. Videos are an extremely effective way to convey information and demonstrate ease of use. Use the following email text as a guide when you reach out to digital retailing customers. 

Sample email 

Hello [customer name],

I noticed you used our Shop Online tools. These easy-to-use tools can help you find the perfect vehicle, pick your trim and accessories, select extended limited warranties, and schedule delivery, if you want. You can even estimate your trade-in value and monthly payments, as well as apply for credit. 

All without leaving home. Check out this video for a step-by-step guide to using our Shop Online tools. 

I’m on hand to answer any questions you may have, so please feel free to respond to this email or call me at [phone number]. 

3. Lease Term Campaigns

It used to be that when a customer lease was up, a new car was waiting on the lot — not anymore. Lease customers need to know that pre-ordering is essential if they want a new vehicle by the end of their lease term. Use your CRM to pull a list of customers coming up on lease end within one year. Create a campaign to educate them on the inventory shortage and the importance of ordering in advance. Use the following phone script as a guide when you reach out to customers. You can also condense the message into follow-up emails. 

Sample phone script

May I speak to [customer name]? Did I get you at a good time? This is [salesperson’s name] from [XYZ dealership]. I’m calling to thank you for your business and to discuss your vehicle lease. As you know, your vehicle lease will mature [timeframe]. This is a great time to think about pre-ordering your next vehicle. Supply chain issues mean we don’t have a lot of new inventory in stock. Pre-ordering is the best way to ensure you’ll have a vehicle when your lease is up. 

Ordering your next vehicle is easy and the bonus is that you get exactly what you want. I’m happy to help you at any time. You can also visit our website to learn more. Can I give you that address again? Do you have any questions? If you need anything at all, please give me a call.

4. Routine Maintenance Campaigns

Service departments across the country are overbooked and overloaded. It’s the perfect storm of people holding onto older cars longer and dealerships scrambling to find and keep employees. Loyal service customers are your bread and butter — you can’t afford to lose their business because your shop is packed. Mitigate long wait times by proactively reaching out to customers due for a service. This will help front-load your shop so you’re better equipped to handle vehicle emergencies. Pull a list from your CRM of customers due for a routine maintenance in a month and schedule them now. If your shop is booking three to four weeks out, you need to make contact even earlier. 

Sample email

Hello [customer name],

It looks like your [vehicle model and make] is due for routine maintenance in a few weeks. We’ve seen a big demand for service appointments lately, so I’d like to get you scheduled now. This ensures you won’t have to wait when your service is due. You can schedule today using our online scheduling tool, or simply reply to this email and I’ll be glad to help.

I’m on hand to answer any questions you may have, so please feel free to respond to this email or call me at [phone number]. 

Proactive outreach to loyal customers is a smart strategy to support your sales and service goals — now and in the future. Use these four outbound retention campaigns to get started. Now is the time to protect loyal customers against the competition and position your dealership as a trusted partner as the market evolves. 

Michael Biasco is a senior product marketer at CDK Global.

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