A Great Way to Build Customer Retention and Loyalty
Dealer Advisory Boards are a regular tool used by Automotive Vendors to maintain relationships with their top clients and to keep them engaged in the service they provide. Autotrader.com, for instance, has a great Dealer Advisory forum that they use to gauge customer satisfaction and product effectiveness. It is also a launching point for new ideas and services. Generally if their top clients don’t like it, neither will the masses. Autotrader.com not only gains valuable feedback from the dealer perspective through these meetings, but also strengthens the relationship they have with their major client base; which builds loyalty and retention.
So why not extend this idea to your best dealership customers as well?
A Dealership Advisory Board is a “soft value” add-on that is beneficial to both your excellent clients and to you. Unlike giving away free oil changes (which we all know is no guarantee of future customer pay labor) this added value creates and strengthens the relationship you have with your most important commodity, your Regular Customers.
These meetings, held up to twice a year allow your customers to impact “their” dealership, especially when they enjoy the changes their feedback initiates. The “partnership” between the DAB and the Dealership becomes long lasting and you will be surprised at the level of ownership your customers will take of the dealership after participating.
The DAB is a win-win because not only do you gain valuable feedback to help you improve your process for all your customers, but you also gain the best advertising anywhere- REFERRALS!
The best customers to choose for your first DAB should be your most loyal ones. Avoid the negative customer at first; those can be folded into the mix later. Try to find customers who have prominent positions in the community if possible. One dealer advisory board I managed had the head of the Pilots Union on it. That one person had the potential to reach literally thousands of other pilots, flight attendants, luggage handlers, ect.
Be sure to create an environment that is enjoyable and make your best customers feel appreciated. Gift bags are a great way to end the meeting. You can fill them with coupons, branded give-aways and a special gift like an i-pod or planner. Remember this is only 2x per year- so make it impressive.
Always remember to keep it positive and accept the criticism well. Most importantly, act on the feedback you receive. All your customers will be thankful for it!
Have you ever considered having a Dealer to Customer Advisory Board at your dealership?