Captivate customers and keep them coming back for more
Bob McCann, Director of Education, ARI
July 10, 2012
Filed under Guest Blog
What you do after you’ve made the first sale determines whether or not you’ll drive incremental service sales, close the next deal and secure any referrals. Once you’ve convinced newly acquired customers that they bought the right boat, from the right dealership, you must subtly lead them back to you for future purchases and referrals of their friends and family. To do that, you need to have a customer retention strategy in place. The following guidelines will go a long way in turning one-time buyers into lifelong customers.
Excellent customer service leads to repeat business.
Customer service is not an expense; it’s a critical part of your business and the most cost-effective, loyalty-building tool you could possibly have. Your salespeople should not only be well-trained on the technical aspects of selling and servicing your boats, but they should also be passionate, following service protocols designed to solve problems beyond handling repairs and providing technical advice or user guidance. Exceeding expectations also includes fulfilling the exceptional need or the odd request. It will reinforce that they made the right decision, and will keep you as their dealership of choice.
Special customers deserve special offers.
Know who your VIP customers are and treat them as such. Create customized special offers and loyalty discounts. Remember to tell them that these exceptional opportunities are only for them.
Referral programs fuel lead generation.
Customer testimonials and endorsements are the best advertising. Make sure to outline your referral program and ask for contact information for anyone they might know “who wants to buy a …” For example, you can offer cash or gift cards for every referral that becomes a customer. Make the process easy.
Take it a step further and involve your employees, as well as local businesses. In a recent article by Boating Industry, Kyle Kelly, operational manager at Kelly’s Port, shared how the dealership’s ramped-up referral program has generated new boat sales. Involving staff has rallied them to work as a team and steer in the same direction.
People do business with people they know, like, and trust.
Put yourself in front of customers, beyond consumer shows and in-house special events. Participate in online user groups and forums, as well as social media platforms to maintain a two-way, free-flowing dialog. Your customers will get a deeper understanding of the value you bring to the table. You’ll have a better idea of what’s on their mind, so you can better serve them. Keep building credibility with this soft-sell approach.
The hand-written note is not dead – It’s very much alive and appreciated!
In this age of hyper-convenient email and instant messaging, a hand-written note will make you stand out. You simply can’t duplicate that one-to-one feeling with any other communication tool.
Sometimes, it’s the more personal and traditional touch that means the most to people, as many customers are still very impressed with a salesperson who has taken the time to write a note instead of sending an email. Remember to include a business card, even if you’ve already given one to the customer in the past.
A customer’s loyalty is earned – not granted. Turning one-time buyers into lifelong customers and getting referrals from existing customers starts with your commitment to a consistent, meaningful nurturing strategy designed to foster credibility, trust and confidence. Diligence is the only way to keep them coming back to you rather than moving on to your competition.