Published 20 Nov 2019
This article was originally published in the Autofile Magazine - Oct 2017 issue.
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Customer referrals play an important role in maximising opportunities you have from individual customers.
They aren’t generally made or received lightly. When your customer refers your dealership to a friend, family member or someone in conversation, it tends to carry some weight and be respected by the person who is being referred to you.
Also, this prospective referee customer is generally at the stage of wanting to buy and your business has been provided with an instant opportunity that it’s likely no other dealer or private seller will receive.
When it comes to referrals there is a definite honeymoon period in the very first few weeks of ownership, so it’s important you understand how you can maximise this for years to come. You want as many of your customers as possible to become your evangelists.
For this to happen, there are a couple of key areas you need to ensure you get right otherwise referrals aren’t going to be something you have much experience with at your dealership.
This isn’t about being flashy, and rolling out the champagne and red carpet. It’s about treating your customer with respect and delivering good old-fashioned service that has the client feeling listened to in the buying process.
You have to always remember that a vehicle purchase is a big deal. Regardless of whether the car is being bought for $4,000 or $100,000, it’s still a significant investment and commitment. Customers will be excited about their vehicles and you need to foster this with them.
When it comes to delivery, this is where it’s easy to rest on the sale and lose interest in the buyer. But if you want referrals, you need to kick it up another notch and deliver the car in a manner that leaves the customer feeling informed and confident about driving away from your dealership.
Whatever you do, don’t throw them the keys and say “thanks”. Deliver the vehicle to them in the sense of going over all of its aspects, such as how to open the bonnet, fuel cap, adjust the driver’s seats, fold down the rear seats, open the boot, use the controls and so on.
Better still, because you’re going to do this process, you better ensure the car is ready for delivery prior to this actually happening. Give it a pre-delivery inspection to ensure all promises have been met and there are no unexpected issues the customer will bring to your attention.
Your diligence in customer experience and the delivery process mentioned above will set you and your dealership up well for referrals. It’s the foundation towards building sales from this part of your business.
There’s not much point keeping in contact with customers post-sale if you have given them a poor and easily forgettable experience. Get what’s covered above right first before implementing ways to keep in contact and your dealership in their minds over years to come.
In that way, whenever they hear of someone looking to buy a vehicle, you want to be the one they mention and the experience they had. This could be a friend, family member, work colleague or hairdresser – pretty much anyone they come in contact with, so the potential is huge.
You can deploy a range of methods for remaining present in their minds. Some dealership management systems either have customer relationship management (CRM) tools you can utilise or third party ones you can export to.
The success of this is actually making sure you do something. This is why the more automated your system is the better, as it means you need no staff resources to keep in touch.
These all mean that over the course of a year they have received two to four pieces of communication from your dealership that are “soft”, thoughtful, and or helpful. What I mean by “soft” is these aren’t about constant sales you have going on – they have their place.
It’s about remaining respectful and present, while varying communication across texting and emailing can be effective.
Motorcentral offers fully automated CRM solutions with its marketing programmes for dealers. This makes increasing customer referrals through aftersales contact simple and easy. If you’d like to learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0800 623 687.
The Motorcentral blog is intended for educational purposes only. All writers opinions are their own and nothing published on this blog should be interpreted as a recommendation or advice in any way. Motorcentral is also not responsible for and does not verify accuracy of any of the information contained within this blog.
In the event third parties are referenced within this article, Motorcentral is not necessarily affiliated with those third parties.