One of the companies involved in the Turning Technology Into Sales and Profits series is recommending ways for an Alabama dealership to avoid the “silent customer syndrome.”
That condition occurs “when the customer feels ignored by the dealer and becomes dissatisfied,” said Larry Koch, founder of Tousley Motorsports in Minnesota and consultant to the year-long series focusing on S&W, a family owned Jasper, Ala., dealership. “But instead of complaining about it, they just find another dealer. By the time you realize they’re unhappy, it’s too late. They’re gone and it’s very hard to get them back.”
One way to avoid the silent customer syndrome is to maintain contact by giving them unique offers, special promotions and exciting new products.
“That’s what we’d like to see (S&W owner Jim Jr. Wilson) do — keep a steady flow of communication going with his customers and prospects,” Koch said, “and build on the goodwill he has created over the last 40 years.”
One approach that ARI, one of the companies involved in the series, has found successful is open houses.
“The highest direct mail response rates that we’ve ever recorded among powersports customers nationwide, is an open house offer,” said Nancy Krajcir-Bennett, ARI’s direct mail manager. “It’s not untypical to send out 1,000 mailers announcing a dealer open house and generate a 30 to 40 percent attendance rate.”
Krajcir-Bennett noted that Friday night open houses produce the best attendance.
“We think Jim Jr. should have an open house at least every three months, with OEM guest speakers and special customer offers,” she said. “It’s basic. But again, it works.”
Another possible antidote to silent customer syndrome is with special offers communicated via direct mailers or a dealership’s Web site.
S&W’s spring season starts in February when Smith Lake opens. And with Alabama’s warmer climate, motorcyclists are getting ready to get their bikes out of storage. ARI officials are suggesting to S&W that they use ARI’s MailSmart program to send out preseason special mailers, featuring tune-up discounts, boat and motorcycle accessories discounts and tie-ins.
Such customer promotions can fail if dealers overlook seemingly little things. Here are keys to remember for such promotions:
“The vast majority of powersports dealers are often good communicators in person,” Koch said. “They’re great at ‘belly-to-belly’ relationship and rapport-building.
“But many times, they just are not good communication managers. That means they don’t know how to communicate with their customers using marketing tools, like a Web site or direct mail.
“And they don’t know how to manage their own people to properly communicate to customers. These are skills that can be acquired or bought. Without them, the dealer owner is limiting his growth and profit prospects.” psb