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Are you Scaring Customers Away with These 4 Practices?

pumpkin, haunted house, bat, witch hat, and other Halloween icons
Article Highlights:

  • Once you scare off a customer, it’s extremely difficult to win them back.
  • Ghosts shouldn’t be the only ones that are transparent.

Halloween is a time when many flock to haunted houses or costume parties dressed in their sharpest fangs. It’s a time when we enjoy getting a little bit scared, but when it comes to automotive purchases, your customers won’t be in the mood for anything frightening.

Once you scare off a customer, it’s extremely difficult to win them back. And while your dealership is no haunted house, you may be using some practices that are giving your customers the creeps:

Scary: Misleading or Generic Messaging

Ghosts shouldn’t be the only ones that are transparent. Your customers are putting a lot of research into what vehicles and services they need—make sure that you’re meeting them halfway with marketing that is easy to understand and relevant to their interests.

To do that, consider your database—

No customer is going to want an email reminding them to service a car they haven’t owned in years, and a family of four isn’t going to want multiple copies of the same promotional mailer. Updating and cleansing your marketing database ensures that you are working with the most accurate information when getting your messages out.

Additionally, listen to your customers—

When a customer informs you that they came to your dealership because of a particular ad or promotion, then your efforts are paying off—good for you! That said, if a customer comments (in-person or digitally) that your ad was misleading or confusing, it might be worth evaluating what’s unclear. Ask these customers for their feedback—what part of your message did they dislike or feel was inaccurate? Implement any valuable takeaways.

Scarier: Inventory Tricks

How’s this for the plotline of a horror movie:

A customer calls into a dealership to ask about a car they saw, only to find out that it hasn’t been on the lot for years (dun dun dun!).

Sounds a bit dramatic, but it’s a real problem when your online inventory doesn’t match what you have on the lot. Customers who show up to test drive a car, only to be told that the car they were after was sold days before will likely run off before you get another chance.

Cars move off the lot quickly, don’t let your online inventory fall behind. Automatically updated inventory advertising ensures that your customers don’t get lured into a trick caused by outdated ads.

Tip: ask your marketing providers how often they’re receiving fresh data feeds from your data providers and sending out feeds to your ad platforms. Real-time? Wow! Multiple times daily? Very nice. Once a day? Still pretty good. Less often than that? You’ve got some problems.

Scariest: Digital Cobwebs

Here’s a joke for you: What do spiders do for fun on Halloween?

They surf the web (insert laugh track—or groan—here).

Jokes aside, spiders aren’t the only ones looking for you online— even your least tech-savvy customers are looking at your online presence before they decide to do business with you. Don’t let your customers find cobwebs from an inconsistent (or even abandoned) presence on certain sites.

Make sure your team has a plan in place for maintaining your online presence.  After all, a Twitter page that’s not been updated since 2016 doesn’t reflect well on your dealership.

It’s also important to remember that sharing and interacting with others online is just as important as creating your own content.

Downright Spooky: Inconsistent follow-ups

There’s nothing scarier than an unexpected (and very expensive) repair. Vehicle repair work can get quite pricey, and when customers are presented with additional work you recommend, most won’t have the finances to pay for it that day. That said, most plan to get those services completed once they save a little (and the initial fear subsides). Your dealership just needs to make sure they come back to you when that happens.

Instead of scaring your customers into the arms of an independent or quick lube shop, consistent, automated follow ups show your customers that you care about their safety. It’s a great way to not only bring lost profits back into your service lanes, but establish strong customer relationships that will remain profitable in the future.

Dealerships are in a market with stiff competition, and poor practices can freak out your customers enough to drive their business elsewhere. Making sure that your marketing is clear, relevant, updated, and timely can show that you’re a reputable choice for all of your customer’s automotive needs.

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Mollie Swygart is a marketing communications professional at Reynolds and Reynolds. She is an expert on Reynolds’ suite of cutting-edge marketing products, their functionalities, and how they can be utilized to improve dealership success. Mollie received her Bachelor’s Degree in Studio Art and English from Marietta College. She also obtained an Associate’s Degree in Marketing from Rhodes State College.

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