March 12, 2019

It’s Never Been Easier for Dealerships to Reduce Customer Acquisition and Retention Cost

Ask anybody about the last time they purchased a vehicle and a majority will undoubtedly say that the first place they went to look was a mobile app or the internet, not a dealership. From pricing and trims to reviews, consumers have all the information they need to make an informed purchasing decision prior to setting foot in a dealership. It’s only when they have finally settled on a car that they locate the nearest store – only that too is now under threat from emerging digital sellers.

The sheer amount of consumer choice has finally pushed notoriously mercurial brand loyalty in favor of personalized experiences. Dr. Mary Sheridan, Manager of Research and Analytics at DMEa states that “more people are stealthily comparison-shopping dealerships and inventory online, and then swooping in to buy when their minds are already made up. Dealerships can no longer rely on in-store visits and the old ‘be-backs’ to drive sales: they need to have the most powerful online presence wherever dealer/vehicle selection is happening, and work far harder to keep customers close throughout the ownership cycle, using every retention marketing tool possible, like a constant-connection mobile app.”

Any way you cut it, traditional customer acquisition methods cost significantly more than their digital peers; online advertisements and email campaigns cost a fraction of billboards and TV. As an increasing number of potential customers leverage the internet and mobile apps to find the cars they want, it’s imperative that dealerships focus on digital channels and leverage marketing tools that work, not the ones they’re simply most comfortable with. Harvard Business Review found that “…people who used several different channels to seamlessly connect with a store were more loyal to the brand, 23% more likely to make repeat trips to the retailer’s physical store, and more likely to recommend the brand to family and friends than those who used a single channel such as physical attendance only.”

Furthermore, just because a specific dealer won a customer, doesn’t mean that customer will remain loyal to the brand or continue to use their services for future visits. Approximately half of dealership income originates from the service department. As its lifeblood, the more customers a dealer can entice to become loyal returnees the better. Cox reports that “after buying a car, 72% of customers are opting for third-party mechanics. The main reasons is price and customer service…key drivers of customer satisfaction that dealers need to address — value, trust and convenience.” While many relate the preference for third-party independent mechanics to only those whose vehicles out of warranty, new cars comprise a portion of these visits.

Winning a new customer is good, keeping them long-term is even better. The right dealership application can do both. Advanced analytics partnered with targeted marketing can draw a straight line from customers to the services, parts, regular communication, and proactive maintenance suggestions they need at any given mile – from the time of vehicle purchase through its maintenance lifecycle and beyond.

Furthermore, coupling digital personal engagement and online/mobile dealership with a mirrored physical experience can protect traditional businesses from emerging online-only competitive threats. Mobile channels are inherently convenient, enabling for constant communication, flash specials, and online booking and ordering. The math is simple; if you don’t have a digital presence you’re missing out on leads, customers, and revenue.

SHIFTMobility’s Vehicle Passport app enables omni-channel engagement from vehicle purchase to financing, insurance, service visits, real-time condition, history, and more. Whether customers are browsing your stock at home or on their mobile, the app delivers a bespoke, streamlined experience from vehicle purchase and service to upgrade. If consumers are going to be researching their next car online, dealerships should make sure that when they determine it’s time to buy, the next place they go is into their showroom.

SHIFTMobility Inc.