The (not so) Secret Sauce to Capturing Lifetime Customer Value

According to Black Book, the lifetime value of a customer to an auto dealership exceeds $50,000.

More than any other step in the sales process, vehicle delivery plays the key role in setting your dealership up to capture that value.

Why delivery? Because it’s the one part of the sales experience customers remember most. Ask someone what they paid for their last vehicle, and you’ll likely get some head scratching and vague recollections. Ask about their delivery experience, however, and you’ll get the full details.

Blow by blow.

Delivery of the car is a special time for the customer. The tough part of the sales process is over — the price and terms have been negotiated and the deal has been sealed. With all that out of the way, the tension dissipates, and the customer relaxes. All that remains now is a sense of relief and anticipation for what is to come. Remember: Next to a home, a vehicle is the biggest purchase in a customer’s life. Delivery is where the importance of that decision hits home.

With a great delivery, you can make this momentous life event a cherished memory for your customer. Succeed and the upside is enormous! A great delivery of the car to the buyer sets your dealership up for:

  • Great reviews
  • Referrals
  • Strong collection performance

Additionally, if you follow up regularly, you’ll be top of mind when it’s time for the consumer to buy again or refer a friend. Then, keep the great performance going and you best the odds for cashing in on the lifetime customer value.

Here are 5 tips that will make your deliveries to the buyer exceptional and set you and your customer up for best success.

  1. Problem-proof the product – A car that breaks down or gets in a wreck is a formula for default. Service contracts and GAP insurance overcome these hurdles. Let the customer assume the risk, not you.
  1. Instill pride – Deliver a product your customer will be proud to drive. Buff and polish the vehicle inside and out, and make sure it’s in tip-top operational condition.
  1. Explain the need for regular maintenance and cover the first oil change – A customer that maintains their vehicle is more likely to stay on top of their payments. To help make regular maintenance a reality, take time to explain its importance and cover the cost of the first oil change. Not only is this a great value-add, it validates your seriousness about maintenance. Plus, by putting your own skin in the game, it’s confirmation this is a product worth maintaining.
  1. Set clear expectations – Explain all the easy and convenient options for making payments but be firm about when payments are due. Make sure the customer understands that if there is an issue, it’s in their best interest to contact collections BEFORE the due date.
  1. Make it special.

The car has been cleaned and polished. The paperwork has been reviewed and signed. Everything is set for the customer to drive their new purchase home. This is the moment they’ve been waiting for! Go the extra mile to make it memorable.

You don’t have to break the bank; a few thoughtful touches are all it takes to make the special moment stand out. Here are some thought starters:

  • Stage the vehicle in a special location — Doors open, cabin at optimal temperature, audio system set to their preferred station/artist
  • Conduct a short feature orientation — Connect their phone and demo key features
  • Show your appreciation — Have all your employees applaud the customer, write a thank you note, or give a small gift
  • Mark the memory — Take a picture of the customer with their vehicle and post it on social media

If you’re serious about developing customer loyalty and building profitable, long-term relationships, shoring up your delivery process is a good place to start. The biggest investment is time, but as you’ll see, it’s an investment with significant ROI.

Read the original article published by NIADA‘s UCD Magazine here.

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