Retain Your Customers

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I’m going to start with a bold statement this month: My dealership has failed me.

But it’s not for the reasons you might automatically think.

The sales experience itself was great. The staff was kind and knowledgeable. They didn’t keep me waiting long. They helped me navigate my first time purchasing a vehicle. I left feeling good about my decision and I loved the car.

But after I drove off that lot, I never heard from the dealership ever again. Not to check in. Not to make sure I wasn’t experiencing any issues. And certainly not for service or maintenance. My vehicle was even under recall at one point, and still, no communication.    

 Actually, I take that back: They did send me a yearly birthday email—on a day that wasn’t my birthday.    

So, it might come as a surprise that when I was in need of a new vehicle five years later, I went back to that same dealership. And again, the experience was great. So, this is the part where they should redeem themselves and not fumble the follow-up, right? Nope! A year-and-a-half out, and I’ve still received no communication, beyond my non-birthday birthday email.

Out of sheer luck (or maybe laziness on my part, that I haven’t ventured to other dealerships), that dealership has retained me as a customer—despite no effort on their part. But they’ve retained me in the least profitable and impactful way possible. And in that way, that dealership has failed. Think about it: Twice now, they’ve let a happy customer walk out the door and allowed a different service provider to handle the lifecycle of that vehicle. That’s repair work, relationship building and the opportunity to create trust that they haven’t taken advantage of.

The actions this dealership neglected to take are basic, but it’s a pointed reminder that sometimes, the fanciest solutions aren’t a replacement for the fundamentals.

That’s the message of this month’s feature, “How to Capture the Modern Customer." In the story, associate editor Tess Collins takes a look at two very different dealerships with one fundamental in common: they both provide stellar customer service. Whether you’re a luxury dealership with seemingly unlimited resources or a smaller business located in a flyover state, every operation has the opportunity to reach its customers and appeal to them in a way that ensures


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