Shawn Ryder has over fifteen years in the automotive industry. Having worked with a training company in the early 2000s for a number of years, focusing on manufacturers and dealer groups. I then transitioned an automated digital marketing company for a couple of years focusing specifically on automotive dealerships. At that point decided best to work in a dealership for real experience, so I worked at a dealership selling vehicles for two years to understand the retail world. For the last three years has worked with dealers on digital marketing and growing traffic, leads and sales for the retail dealership.
Did you know that while many emails go unopened and unnoticed, the majority of text messages are opened within just five minutes of being received? That means that text messaging, also known as SMS, is a highly effective and immediate way to communicate with your customers. An automated text message solution makes it easy and efficient to personally connect with customers. So now that you know, what are some of the best ways you can use text messaging to stay in touch with your customers and bring in more business?
How to Get Customers to Sign Up for Texts
Getting customers to sign up is the first step. You should advertise the benefits of signing up for your text message marketing campaigns everywhere: on your website, at the physical location of your business, on your social media pages, and in your email marketing campaigns. Also, think about this: why would a customer want to sign up? Advertise the benefits that will entice people to want to receive your text messages. Examples?
Never miss an automotive appointment again with our convenient text message reminders.
Receive instant text message notifications as soon as your vehicle part arrives.
Gain access to personalized text message promotions and exclusive contests!
Engage Customers from the Very First Text
Once customers have signed up, your automated text message solution should send them a thank you text, confirming their subscription and offering them a special promotion to get them interested. The promotion can be small, for example, a 15% off coupon for an oil change or tire rotation. The main idea is to provide immediate value and reassure the customer that signing up was a smart idea.
Provide Helpful Automotive Tips
A great way to build trust and loyalty with your customers is to send them helpful text message tips they can actually use. These tips serve to keep you connected throughout the year, even when the customer has not been into the shop in a while, and to establish your business as one that is always thinking about its customers’ needs. These can include safety tips, maintenance advice, links to buyers’ guides or industry news and so on.
Send Automatic Maintenance Reminders
Text message reminders can be sent automatically to each customer based on their vehicle type and history, date of last appointment, and time of year. Reminders make your customers’ lives easier because they don’t have to remember when to book an oil change, routine maintenance or inspection. They will be automatically notified at precisely the right time. These text messages encourage repeat business. Once the appointment has been booked, the customer will get an automatic reminder on the day of the appointment so they don’t forget, reducing no-shows and increasing your revenue.
Offer Personalized Promotions
Customers love to feel like they are getting an exclusive deal. Personalized promotions bring in more business and also grow customer loyalty and satisfaction. Your automated text message solution will keep track of each customer’s birthday, purchase date and other individual data so that promotional messages can be sent out on important dates.
Try using an automated text message marketing solution and track how much additional business comes in due to personally targeted text message campaigns.
Staying in touch with each customer throughout the year can help you increase business, by keeping your dealership in customers’ minds and by providing them relevant information when they need it. It could take many hours each day to do this manually, but if you have an automated marketing and communication solution it can take as little time as a few hours at the beginning of every month.
With automation, once you create the basic messages and decide how you want them to be sent that’s really all you need to do. Your customers receive messages that are relevant to their needs and also you are able to maintain consistent contact with hundreds, even thousands, of customers easily. So what types of messages should you create?
You knew this had to be the first one. Seasonal sales and special promotions help drive dealership business more than almost any other kind of message. Customers love a good deal, especially if it’s exclusive. You can offer special deals to customers from Sales Managers who choose to sign up for your email newsletters, as an incentive. Your promotional messages can go out to all your customers or you can have personalized promo messages sent to each customer based on their type of vehicle and maintenance and purchase history.
Whether it’s an oil change, tire rotation or just overall maintenance, often customers need a friendly reminder. Auto maintenance is not the first thing people think of, and they will be much more likely to book an appointment on time if they receive a message letting them know that their vehicle is due for maintenance. These notifications are sent out automatically to each customer based on the vehicle history and data that is stored in your DMS. Each customer receives a message exactly when they need it.
Once they book the appointment, you still need to ensure that they don’t forget about it. Too often, dealerships lose time and money due to customers not showing up for their appointments. Rather than taking the time to contact each customer manually, let automation take care of all the tedious details to ensure that each customer knows exactly when to show up.
A survey is a great way to find out what customers really think of your dealership and see if there are any areas that could be improved in order to grow your business. Surveys can be sent out automatically after customers come in for service or to make a purchase. With the click of a button, customers can submit valuable feedback that is automatically organized for you to review.
Safety and Maintenance Tips
Automotive marketing that focuses solely on promoting new vehicles and upcoming sales is becoming a thing of the past. More and more, customers want educational resources that they can actually use. Sending out tips that can help customers learn about their vehicles and how to take care of them builds credibility in your dealership, and increases customer loyalty. Customers learn that your dealership cares not only about selling them vehicles and parts but also wants to help them maintain their vehicles for a long time. A friendly text message or email now and then providing you with helpful information that you can use every day cements the belief that the dealership is focused on you as a long-term customer.
Whenever a new product comes on the market, the public must be convinced that this is a product that they cannot live without. The benefits and advantages of the new versus the old must be compelling if you are going to convince shoppers to switch to new fangled brands and items. This is most definitely the case when it comes to marketing hybrid cars. When such a new technology becomes available for the average Joe, he must be sold on the positives of becoming one of the first to own this new technology. This wasn’t terribly difficult in the case of a fuel efficient car that was introduced at a time when gas prices were skyrocketing. In fact, the marketing of hybrid cars was so effective; it is hard to find any of these vehicles available for sale today.
The obvious benefits that were used in marketing hybrid cars were the fuel efficiency and the environmental friendliness of these vehicles. Fuel efficiency was the first advantage, since many of the cars will reap 20-30 more miles to the gallon than similar styles that are not hybrid vehicles. Marketing hybrid cars revolved primarily around getting this information out to the general public. Once people realized how much they could save in gasoline prices simply by switching to a hybrid vehicle, the sales began to boom. The reason for this amazing fuel efficiency is the combination of a small gasoline engine that works in tandem with an electric motor that can recharge itself with the help of the gasoline engine. Amazing technology that results in a car that needs less fuel to run.
The other benefit that was used in marketing hybrid cars was the environmental friendliness of these vehicles. First, burning less fuel is good for the environment for obvious reasons. These hybrid vehicles also have much cleaner emissions, meaning that their capacity for polluting the environment is much less. Since many folks today are very concerned about the state of our environment, marketing hybrid cars for their cleanliness and lack of pollution was smart marketing indeed. And certainly finding vehicles that are good for our environment will be a huge benefit to everyone, drivers and non-drivers alike.
These benefits were so desirable, and the marketing of hybrid cars so effective, you can hardly find one of these vehicles on car lots today. The entire first wave of these automobiles has been sold. The good news is that many auto makers are in the process of getting additional hybrid cars out to the consumers as soon as they possibly can. By next year, the marketing of hybrid cars will include a large number of vehicles of every make, model and size for our driving pleasure.
Automated marketing is a huge industry (and growing) and it’s also a hot topic for businesses. Is it really necessary? Will it truly benefit my business? The only way to know for sure if marketing automation is the right choice for your dealership is to try it out, but before you invest the time and money there are some questions that can help you make that decision.
Do you send out personalized campaigns?
Marketing messages are much more effective when they cater to each customer’s personal needs rather than vaguely appeal to a wide range of customers. If you do offer personalized campaigns to your customers based on information like vehicle history, location, date of purchase, seasonal promotions and more you know that these campaigns can bring in a lot of business. However, it can also be extremely time-consuming to organize the information and contact each customer.
If you do this type of targeted marketing or you want to do it in order to bring in more business, an automated marketing solution can save you hours each day and also enable you to connect with more customers than is possible manually. The automated solution can pull information from your DMS in order to provide a highly personalized message campaign for each one of your customers.
If you want to send out specific messages to groups of customers (for example, a different campaign for each different vehicle model), this is a quick and simple process as well with marketing automation.
Do you send out maintenance reminders?
This could include sending out notices to each customer based on their vehicle history such as when it’s time to change the oil, or it could be simply to remind customers of their appointment time once it’s scheduled, or both. Sending reminders to customers can consume a big part of your day.
With automated marketing, the automated solution tracks each customer’s vehicle: date of purchase, date of last appointment, any issues with the vehicle and so on. Automated messages go out to each customer letting them know that three months have passed since their last oil change, or their maintenance appointment should be booked soon, or they need to get their tires rotated.
Is a lot of your day taken up with contacting customers by phone, text message or email?
This is the one that will probably speak most immediately to you. Yes, it’s great that automated marketing can help bring in more business but will it reduce my daily workload? Automated marketing can take care of all the little tasks that eat away at your time and reduce productivity.
Making a personal connection with a customer over the phone or in an email is a great way to show customers that you care, but you don’t have to manually contact them for every little thing. There is no need to go through your database to find out who needs an oil change and call each customer. Automated marketing frees up your time and staff resources while also efficiently reaching out to more customers than would be possible manually.
Do you have an accurate way to survey your customers?
Gaining honest feedback from a wide range of customers is essential for improving your services. Do you regularly survey your customers? If so, collecting, organizing and analyzing the data can be complicated.
An automated survey tool sends out surveys based on triggers such as when a customer visits the dealership. It organizes all the data into easy to understand charts and graphs and keeps track of it for future reference.
Do your customers keep coming back to you for maintenance?
Often, customers will make their initial purchase at a dealership but take their car elsewhere for maintenance because it’s cheaper. This takes away a source of recurring revenue from the dealership. Studies have shown that customers will pay more for services if the services are better or more convenient. How can you capitalize on that?
The excellent service is your speciality, but automated marketing can help with the convenience. Also, how many shops do you know that keep in touch with their customers each month with messages that are based on their personal automotive needs? Now that’s customer service!
Automated marketing helps build customer loyalty by keeping your dealership in the forefront of customers’ minds and also making their days simpler by providing relevant messages, reminders and promotions. Automated messages help keep your customers on track by looking out for their vehicles’ needs right on time.
So, do you need automated marketing?
If you have a small dealership and you have enough staff to handle all your communication needs then you might not want to invest in automated marketing. But if you’re finding it difficult to connect with all your customers, if organizing data is a challenge, if your days are busy because you’re always trying to contact customers, you might want to look into automating certain processes.
And personalized campaigns are proven to bring in more business. Automated marketing makes it simple to create personalized campaigns for each unique customer. Imagine the possibilities!
The 2014 Major League Baseball season is officially underway, and it is ironic that an obscure statistician from Kansas is making the news, one who was ridiculed for many years.
Today he is a chief decision-maker for the world champion Boston Red Sox, having gaining notoriety throughout professional sports – and acceptance to his metrics continues to grow.
On CBS 60 Minutes, Morley Safer interviewed Bill James, a baseball writer, and historian who has written more than two dozen books devoted to baseball statistics, highlighting his unique approach – known as Sabermetrics: the science of why teams win or lose games.
A fair comparison can be made to the retail auto sales and service industry: It’s the numbers, stupid.
Bill James helps the Boston Red Sox decide which players to keep, who and whey they play and who gets traded-away in the off-season, in order to improve the team’s statistical chances of having a winning year. He also helps them grow champions. But it wasn’t always that way.
Working as a night security guard in Kansas during the late 1970’s, James began studying box scores (arguably similar to an RO Analysis). He soon published “The Bill James Baseball Abstract” in 1977, by challenging baseball’s typical metrics of what determined a great player. He argued that it was not wins or losses (for a pitcher), nor hits, home runs nor batting average.
Instead, he created statistical innovations (the new metrics) such as:
Runs Created: Put simply, hits and walks divided by plate appearances.
Range Factor: The defensive contribution of a player, assists and putouts divided by games played.
Defensive Efficiency Record: The percentage of balls in play that a defense turns into an out.
Win Shares: A comparison of players at different positions.
Pythagorean Winning Percentage: The relationship of wins and losses to runs scored and allowed.
Major League Equivalency – A metric that uses minor league statistics to determine how a player is likely to perform in the majors.
For most of his career, Bill James’ ideas were either been ignored or rejected by major league baseball teams. Most teams preferred to follow the maxims that were created decades ago, as well as their gut instincts.
The Red Sox hired James in 2004. Using his ideas, they have won three World Championships.
In our constantly changing automotive industry of customer counts and sales and dollars made, perhaps we need to take a step back and look at new and innovative ways to measure our success, and that of our people. In these challenging times, it requires different thinking along with different processes, to become a world champion.
It is very important to check the fluids of your vehicle because it does make your vehicle stop and run properly. Many people do not realize that if you start losing brake fluid eventually your paddle is going to go all away to the floor and not be able to stop.
When you are trying to check the fluids of your vehicle you have to make sure that you check every type of fluid that your vehicle has to make sure that your car’s going to be running perfectly and not losing any other fluids.
Here are some of the fluids that you need to make sure that you check on a regular basis to make sure that your engine is running properly.
Your engine oil is very important to the operation of your vehicle because without the oil your engine can seize up. Then you’re looking to spend a lot of money replacing the engine to make your car run longer. At least every week ago are the wooden check your oil to make sure that it is running of the safe operation level.
Another fluid that you need to pay close attention to is the antifreeze level in your radiator. If you start leaking antifreeze or start selling a sweet smell you are going to have to check to see if you have any leaks in your cooling system.
You’ll be able to determine if you have a leak because there will be a puddle of green fluid underneath your car. Get this fixed right away because it is very crucial to keep heat and your car running properly.
Other foods that you want to check is the power steering fluid and the brake fluid. The power steering fluid helps you turn corners and the brake fluid helps you stop your vehicle. They are all located underneath the hood of your vehicle.
When you think of everyday maintenance on a vehicle you have to think about everything that you can prevent so that you do not end up alongside the road stuck there. The best thing you can do when you’ll are trying to make sure that the car is in perfect running order is to do a visual inspection of your vehicle. This means you might have to get a bit during but it will be well worth it when you’re not sitting alongside the road broke down and having to call a tow truck. Here are some things that you want to look for when you’re doing a visual inspection of your vehicle to make sure that you can prevent any possible damage that could happen when you’re on a long trip or just driving a back and forth to work.
The first thing they need to look at is the belts and hoses of your vehicle. If any of these up cracked or stressed out because of the constant heat that your vehicle puts off when your engine is running you need to replace them. Most vehicles have a serpentine belt that runs everything including the alternator an air conditioning unit. If you’re serpentine belt goes out you lose all power so you want to make sure that you pay close attention to see if there are any cracks or stress marks on the belt. The same goes for any radiator hoses and heater core hoses because if they looked damaged or stressed you could be leaking antifreeze causing your engine to overheat.
The next thing you want to look for is any cracking or tire separation on your vehicle. If having a bad tire on your vehicle could lead to a lot of things like going into the ditch or just plain losing control of your vehicle. Do a visual inspection of your tires to see if there is any uneven wear across that tread. You’ll be able to determine if your tires will make it another year depending on the tread life as well as if there are any deformities or loss of air pressure in your tires.
You also want to do a visual inspection of the brakes. All you have to do is check the rotors and brake pads. You’ll be able to tell if you need to replace your brake pads if you hear on a simple squealing or shriek coming from the front end of your car.
The amount of time it takes to prepare a proper and profit-making service menu is more than one might imagine! This process involves research of one’s costs, pricing surveys, and so on. The time involved could be 60-70 hours! That’s a great investment of time, but considering that menus are, without a doubt, the number one source for selling maintenance in your Service Department, one doesn’t have any other choice but to expend the time and energy to create the very best menu.
One of the most important elements of effective service menus is the “Package Price” of the varying mileage interval services. Both the dealership and its customers can benefit from the package price and it is of vital importance that your customers are made aware of the benefit of purchasing the “Package Price.” When they know the benefit-when they know that the package price will save them more money than if every service were performed separately, they will appreciate and accept the idea of the package price.
Choosing effective price points plays an important role in the marketing of the menus.
And then, most importantly, the way in which the Service Advisors present the menus completes the marketing circle. There are effective and logical ways of presenting the maintenance package. In many cases, unfortunately, some dealers decide to fill the list of services with ‘fluff’, such as the various checks and inspects that we do at no charge anyway and then increase the package price. When the package is sold, there is certainly more revenue taken in; however, do you really think customers bought this?
Better question – do you think these customers will be back or will these be the customers who maintain “dealers cost too much”?
However you structure your menu, if your service advisors don’t buy into its value, they’ll never sell it, and if it isn’t being sold, go ahead and charge $999.95 for it because it won’t matter.
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