Most shops spend their marketing and advertising dollars on acquiring new customers. And while that’s important, it overlooks your best and surest revenue source—existing customers. Assuming you deliver high-quality service, which we know you do, customers who stay with you for a year or longer represent the bulk of your business and the majority of your revenue. Customers who know and trust you are more likely to:
Keep coming back
Post positive reviews
Trust you for all their vehicles’ maintenance and repair needs
Refer friends and family
Loyal customers are the hidden gold mine many shop owners unconsciously overlook in the quest for revenue growth. One common reason is that few tools exist that simplify marketing to your existing customer base—putting the burden of maintenance reminders, existing customer campaigns, referral incentives, and loyalty programs on you, the busy shop owner. When tools do exist, they offer partial answers, such as direct mail campaigns only or just a rewards programs, so that owners have to piece together solutions from multiple vendors. Doing things piecemeal makes it difficult to create a unified strategy.
We’re guilty, too
We fell into the same trap when we introduced ALLDATA Market last year. Not all ALLDATA Market versions offer full-featured customer retention, so we focused on the features that are consistent across all: hosted websites, search-engine optimization, and customer review collection. As a result, we talked a lot about how ALLDATA Market helps you get new customers, which it does quite well. We also mentioned the ways it improves customer communications. But we didn’t say much about its customer retention features. Yet by our analysis of revenue by category toolsets—acquisition, communication, and retention—the greatest return on investment comes from the customer retention features.
ALLDATA Market Projected Revenue Streams:
Customer acquisition toolset 40%
Customer communication toolset 10%
Customer retention toolset 50%
Because the customer retention tools make it easy to create and carry out a smart, long-term strategy that strengthens customer loyalty and builds referrals, they just might be ALLDATA Market’s most valuable features.
Why Customer Retention Matters
To use a sports analogy, customers are like fumbled footballs. Once a customer picks up his vehicle, he’s no longer in your possession. He’s fair game to anyone with a good marketing ploy and better customer retention strategy. ALLDATA Market customer retention tools are like fumble-prevention insurance, they keep customers connected to you and off the open market through separate, but united, tools that include:
Electronic appointment reminders – Sending a text message or email to remind customers of upcoming appointments helps minimize no-show rates.
Personalized service recommendations and reminders – Integrating ALLDATA Market with your SMS, which is easy to do with most SMS software, allows you to send out personalized notices based on the customer’s driving habits. Notices include the customer’s name; vehicle year, make, and model, along with suggestions based on manufacturer recommendations and the customer’s inspection results. The tools make it easy to reach out to customers by phone, email, and direct mail postcards.
Loyalty points program – Create a totally custom loyalty points program to reward your best customers and provide incentives to return and refer their friends. ALLDATA Market tracks the points, according to the criteria you set, and lets you know when customers reach the levels you’ve established to earn their rewards.
Customer-only campaigns – Create a campaign for existing customers only. Choose email, direct mail, or both to offer customers special deals on oil changes, checkups, and other services. Running campaigns during slow-business periods can help even out business peaks and valleys.
Motorist vehicle service center – Give your customers direct access to their vehicle histories and service invoices through Facebook®. The app gives customers insider access to their vehicle records kept at your shop—including recall alerts and service recommendations. The app also allows your customers to set appointments and encourages them to share reviews.
Social media support – We know you don’t have time to maintain a Facebook page or keep up the Twitter® tweets, but they both provide great ways to keep the conversation going with your customers and build a community of loyal fans. ALLDATA Market delivers regular updates to Facebook and Twitter that educate customers on different aspects of vehicle repair and maintenance. And, when you have an offer you want customers to know about, you have an active outlet in place for your posts and tweets.
Design your own – Have a program you’d like to promote? With ALLDATA Market, you have all the channels in place to help your ideas succeed.
Training and support – ALLDATA Market offers a wealth of tools you can use to strengthen customer relationships—that’s the upside. The downside is that starting a customer retention program can seem overwhelming. That’s why we include training and live customer support that ensures you can use ALLDATA Market to your best advantage.
When it comes to customer retention, we tried to think of everything. Most important, we thought of you, your need to build customer loyalty and referrals, and the many demands on your time. By automating customer retention features and providing ample training and support, you get easy access to programs shown to work in the auto repair industry, so that you can get the most from your customer retention program with minimal time and effort.
Marketing from the inside out
There’s no reason to focus on one form of marketing over another. Customer retention delivers exceptional return on your investment, but you still need to maintain an equal focus on customer acquisition to fuel your growth. By giving you two powerful, proven tools to do both well, we believe ALLDATA Market offers a true best-of-both-worlds solution.
Sources: Harvard Business Review, Gartner Group, and “Leading on the Edge of Chaos,” Emmett C. Murphy and Mark A. Murphy