Article

Customer Satisfaction is Worthless

A dealership GM says anybody can create an acceptable experience, but creating repeat business is an endeavor unto itself. He offers five practical tips for pricing and retaining your most loyal customers.

February 2015, Auto Dealer Today - Feature

by Jason Heard

As sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer once put it, “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”
As sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer once put it, “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.”

Repeat customers are awesome! We all enjoy the experience when customers come back to purchase their second, third or 20th car. It’s a beautiful thing, but each visit raises the same old question: How do we price cars for our most loyal customers?

Naturally, there will always be a certain few who will do whatever you ask and accept whatever terms you give them. They trust you implicitly, and you most likely earned that trust by treating them fairly and keeping up your end of the deal.

Obviously, in the Digital Age, this group is shrinking. It is simply too easy to shop price these days. Even a cursory Google search for a new model yields countless third-party retail and research sites promising they can help in-market shoppers find the best deal. You can’t blame your customers for being tempted to seek a second opinion.

As sales guru Jeffrey Gitomer once put it, “Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” His point is that anybody can create an acceptable experience; creating repeat business is an endeavor unto itself. As automotive sales professionals, we have the opportunity — and the skills — to make that happen. Let’s review five key things we should all keep in mind when dealing with previous clients.

1. Be confident. Remember, they came back for a reason. Be proud that you did your job so well the last time they visited, they felt compelled to return. You discovered their needs and wants, built a rapport and structured the deal in a way that made financial sense for them. You also must have followed up and stayed top-of-mind. You have officially separated yourself from the pack. Way to go!

2. Price accordingly. Now that you know they like you and they have a strong interest in working with you again, does that mean you can get MSRP and hold $2,000 on the trade? Not necessarily. Some folks believe the deal should get better every time because they have been loyal to you.

… And they’re right! We all know that the “deal” is made up of much more than just the price of the vehicle. Consider rewarding your repeat customers with a service plan, an all-weather package or another add-on you know would be of benefit. Get creative.

3. Be transparent. Don’t be afraid to talk about the numbers. Perhaps they want to know where the price is in relation to invoice. You may even need to show them pricing based on those third-party sites they’ve heard so much about. Remember, they came back for a reason. If you want to see them again, answer every question and don’t try to hide anything.

4. Take notes. A major element of the needs-discovery and rapport-building phase is uncovering the personal details that led each customer to your store and the vehicles you sell. You clearly accomplished this if they’re back for another go-around, but how much of their information can you actually remember? This is the main reason successful, long-term sales pros take good notes.

Knowing your customer’s son or daughter is approaching their 16th birthday or their high school or college graduation can go a long way toward moving a second unit or convincing Mom or Dad it’s time to trade up and let the kid have their current vehicle Take note of anything and everything you know is important to your customers and could affect their needs analysis — now and in the future.

5. Have fun. Every repeat customer is a chance to make the sales process more fun. Use your known points of reference to put them at ease the moment they walk in. By the time you get to the demo and test drive, you should all be smiling and laughing.

It cannot be repeated enough: You have to do what made you successful last time — and then do even more. Take nothing for granted. Spend whatever time is necessary to do a proper needs analysis, presentation and demonstration, and you will be rewarded with their gratitude and future business.

The biggest hurdle we face with fresh ups is getting them to like and trust us. With repeat customers, those hurdles have already been cleared. Don’t throw that away by cutting corners or being greedy, and don’t be afraid to tell them how happy you are that they returned and how much you appreciate their business. You can bet that, in return, they will tell you everything they love about your dealership and your products. Those rare exchanges, like customer loyalty, really are priceless.

Jason Heard is the general sales manager at Frank Ancona Honda in Olathe, Kan. He is a 20-year industry veteran with extensive sales and sales management experience.  [email protected]

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