AM Online

Opinion: Dealers losing customers before end of warranty period

"Some franchise dealers are starting to lose customers to fast-fits and independent garages even before the end of the standard three-year warranty period.

Dealers must stay closer to their customers. The biggest hurdle to overcome here is simply administrative they are very poor at keeping databases up to date.

You can have the best marketing plans in the world but if the address that you are sending them to is incorrect, then all your effort is wasted.

Records need to be regularly and effectively cleansed to maintain customer contact, especially at a time when manufacturers are steadily reducing the amount of time in the workshop and number of dealer visits a vehicle needs.

Customers are attracted to fast-fits by more competitive prices and while-you-wait service. However, this also gives the fast-fit operator the opportunity to check the car and offer any other relevant rectification. The customer then becomes accustomed to visiting the fast-fit centre rather than the dealer.

This problem affects almost all dealers to some extent. However, they can successfully fight back. Customer retention in aftersales is based on satisfying needs and expectations.

This is not always a simple task and FGA recommends a series of process improvements, linked to the abilities and aspirations of a particular dealer. For example, reserving workshop capacity so that last-minute jobs can be handled is an effective strategy, as is talking to customers about additional work their car may require, which is something that fast-fits do very well.”

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