Car Dealers: Use These 5 Steps to Turn Customers in to Raving Fans

Raving fans

It’s every car dealers dream to have a steady flow of repeat customers and referrals. This means less advertising costs, more profit and a healthier dealership. Not to mention, better sleep at night! How can you get to this magical place. There are no silver bullets, it does take work and time, but EVERY dealership can get there faster by following the 5 steps below.

1. It Starts With Their First Experience

The first touch is so important to get right. As a lead stay on top of them with an automated drip describing who you are as a dealership, the values the dealership holds, why a customer would use you over another, etc. If they are new you want to roll out the red carpet and wow them. Email drip them the vehicle they are interested in plus additional related vehicles in their price range and/or model range. You can use your CRM or services like MailChimp, Drip or GetResponse.

2. The Sales Process HAS to Go Smooth.

This is a long term game, so impress them the first time with how easy you are to work with. You do have to do your job and make money for the dealership, but don’t go above and beyond to bleed the customer dry. Especially don’t get greedy and absolutely kill a customer that is knowledgeable and has done their research. Remember it’s 6x more expensive to get a new customer than keep an old one. Act professional. Try to find a deal that will benefit the customer, get them the payments they want. Find them that car that you had to search for hours to find. You’ll delight them and pave the way to repeat sales.

It’s 6x more expensive to get a new customer than keep an old one.

3. Followup with Hand Written Notes

What percentage of salespeople in the US followup with hand written notes? I would guess it’s not even 1/2 of 1 percent, the number is probably closer to a few hundred. Separate yourself from the pack. It’ll only take a minute to write out a quick note. Work harder at your job and you’ll be rewarded with referral sales left and right. Note that this can be automated if you don’t have time. Use services like MailLift or find someone on oDesk or eLance.  Follow that up with calls at regular scheduled intervals. Shouldn’t last more than a few minutes per. If you call during business hours you’ll generally get voicemail and can leave a quick message thanking them again and saying you are checking in on them. Schedule all of this in your CRM.

Hand written note

4. Automate a Drip Email to The Customer Thanking Them for Their Purchase

About 4 weeks out, automate a drip email to your customer thanking them for their purchase and provide a small gift to them. Try to keep it under $30, just enough to show you care and something they’ll appreciate. Give them a coupon for a free carwash at a local vendor. Or free oil change. Work it out so you only pay if the customer uses the coupon.

A few months after that, send them an email with a referral coupon for cold hard cash back of $100-$300. This will open their eyes and it will hopefully get the gears turning in their head about who is currently looking for a car.

A few months after that, send a reminder email about the referral coupon to jog their memory.

Drip email

5. Long Term – Ask For Their Trade-In

About a year out, if you haven’t already received referral traffic or repeat sales, automate an email to them asking them if they want to trade-in or outright sell their vehicle. To take this a step further you could even send a straight up offer price. You know the vehicle and you have some idea of the mileage if you’ve tracked things properly in your CRM. To throw a cherry on the top, say you’ll give them an extra few hundred on top of that! They’ll feel like they are getting a special deal that no one else gets!


Dealerships that get healthy repeat business and referrals are generally at the top of their region for profit per capita. Look around smaller areas and you’ll find long term dealers that have been at it 20 years plus that barely spend any money on marketing. It’s a beautiful thing to build up and ensures survival through good times and bad. Do you know any of these dealers? What else would you add to this list of steps?

September 12, 2014 - Written by

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