In almost every aspect of your dealership, you calculate ROI. Whether you’re looking at your ad spend, calculating labor costs or analyzing your digital marketing, the first, and last, thing you think about is ROI. How is my spending this money going to help me make more money? At times, we choose unwisely and discover that after the fact. Steps are then taken to rectify and adjust that money. However, ROI isn’t the only thing you should be considering.
“Return on Relationship™ (ROR), simply put, is the value that is accrued by a person or brand due to nurturing a relationship, whereas ROI is simple dollars and cents. ROR is the value (both perceived and real) that will accrue over time through loyalty, recommendations and sharing, and is used to define and educate companies, brands, and people about the importance of creating authentic connection, interaction, and engagement.”
According to Mashable, based on a study by Forrester Research, “70% of consumers trust brand recommendations from friends, but only 10% trust advertising…” Engaging your customers and connecting with them on an emotional level through genuine interaction will, over time, generate loyalty. A referral can bring a sale and also give you the opportunity to generate a loyal customer.
Building ROR isn’t always easy and certainly isn’t quick. Unfortunately, there’s an inherent distrust that exists between consumers and car dealers. As I wrote in a previous blog, being different makes a difference. You have to prove yourself to the customer over time and be consistent in your actions. Not only do you have to prove yourself to your current customers – whether that’s in your service drive or the customer sitting in front of you buying a car – but you also have to prove yourself to potential customers. These are the customers that are browsing the Internet reading review sites. By being responsive to customer complaints and concerns, and doing so publicly on these sites, you will show these potential customers that you care and be one step closer to earning their business before you even knew there was business to earn.
Here are a few things you can start doing to build ROR in your dealership.
Be genuine – People can tell whether you are being patronizing or are genuinely sympathetic to their needs, wants or concerns. Pay attention to what a customer is telling you and respond in a genuine manner. Do whatever it takes to satisfy the customer no matter how difficult they may be to deal with.
Recognize Your Customers – This actually covers two types of recognition. The first being that you make an effort to get to know them. There’s nothing that impresses consumers more than walking into any business they frequent and being greeted by name. This simple thing instills a feeling of gratitude and makes a customer feel important. The second is the recognition that involves giving back to them to thank them for their business. This can be accomplished through special offers for frequent customers or through loyalty programs. There’s no better way to thank your customer for their business than by rewarding them.
Empower Your Employees – You can’t be everywhere at the same time. I’ve written about this before and shown how the most successful companies allow their employees to be problem solvers when an issue with a customer arises. Trust your employees to resolve the problem immediately rather than making them jump through hoops. Someone I know shared that in their dealership, nobody answers the phone with the standard “Hi, thank you for calling X dealership, this is Bob, How can I help you?” but rather they altered their greeting to say “Hi, thank you for calling X dealership, I can help you.” This simple transformation of a word track lets the customer know that they aren’t going to be transferred a million times to get their problem solved. The employee who answers that call is tasked with staying with the customer until either their problem is solved or they are connected with the appropriate person.
Building loyal customers is not unlike building a house. You need the right materials and a strong foundation. By doing it properly, you can weather any storm that comes your way.