Fluidity. Flexibility. These are two words that describe every successful dealer in the post-2020 era. Nostradamus himself could not have predicted all that 2020 and 2021 brought, including an incredibly hot market and incredibly low inventory. Pent-up demand, low interest rates, distrust of public transportation, and increased availability for down payments have all helped boost sales, but decreased the vehicles on the lot.
The lack of inventory has exacerbated an issue that has been gaining momentum for quite some time-- brand loyalty. A study by IHS Markit detailed that Brand Loyalty is the lowest it has been since August 2015. At 51%, it is down almost 2% YoY.
According to research completed by Mintel, over 44% of consumers say they are looking to change automakers for their next vehicle.
Segment shopping has remained relatively static, and while Mrs. Jones knows she wants an SUV and will not be transitioning to that sedan, the brand is now the variable.
Why is Brand Loyalty Declining?
There are many and varied factors that go into the decline of brand loyalty. Some are related to satisfaction with the vehicle (35%), low inventory choices, the chip shortage, and high demand. 53% of people surveyed stated that they thought the dealership or brand was not in tune with the needs of the buyer, which will cause them to defect. Some brands are still bucking the odds and retaining their loyal customers, but they are few and far between.
All of this to say: we need to sell more with fewer vehicles and fickle customers.
How is that possible?
Here are some ideas to help maintain or increase loyalty, increase customer satisfaction, and potentially sell more cars.
What To Do?
There are some simple ways to help not only combat declining loyalty to the brand (or your dealership), but also with inventory issues and customer satisfaction.
Focus on promoting ordering vehicles as opposed to relying only on what you have in stock.
When you know inventory will be challenging (most likely not normalizing until 2022), guiding customers to order or pre-order vehicles is a way to maintain the customer, give them an excellent customer experience, and help them to get exactly what they want. With some stores at a 15 day supply, this has become the “new normal,” and is a great way to reduce the cost of your floor plan and sell into the pipeline.
Call your lease maturities
This should be common practice, but calling/communicating with your lease maturities (starting at least 90 days out) will help with a few elements:
- It will remind the customer of the lease end date
- It will provide them with time to complete a pre-inspection
- It gives you time to either walk them through the “buy-out” process or order them a vehicle
- It helps ensure that they will remain loyal customers by guiding them through the process and helping them into their next vehicle
This system can/should be replicated with your loan maturities as well.
Mine your service database
There are many solutions that do this for you, but if you can pull a list of customers servicing with you that have owned their car for “X” amount of time, you can reach out to see if they are satisfied, are looking to trade-in and trade-up, and if you can order their next vehicle for them.
Pre-owned prices are starting to drop, but the customer will still get an excellent valuation for their car, you will get another preowned unit to sell, and you will have retained a loyal customer.
Follow up with targeted social campaigns
This is the piece that bringing it all home. Once you have reached out to the customers in the categories listed above, you can have your agency upload these lists into Facebook and specifically target the customers with a social ad that mirrors the offer or message you sent via email/direct mail/phone call.
All of the strategies mentioned above will rely on a strong BDC to carry out the tasks. While you can send an email or a direct mail piece to the consumer, the human element is what will create the connection and add personalization to your efforts. Alone, any of these communication methods may be successful, but when working in conjunction, they have a much higher likelihood of being received by the customer. And that is the ultimate goal.
If you do not have a BDC who has the bandwidth or ability to call these specific customers, let us help! BetterCarPeople is the leading engagement solution and with an omnichannel approach, we can reach out to all the customers you know you should, but can’t.