Automotive Customer Retention Strategies That Work

Automotive Customer Retention Strategies That Work

September 13, 2023

At a time when consumers value every minute and every dollar, businesses need to work harder to earn customer loyalty. Every time a customer drives away from their shop, you risk losing them to a competitor’s alluring discount or location.

The secret to automotive customer retention lies in offering convenience and building trust so they don’t go anywhere else. When you respect their time and reinforce your value to them, they spend more and send new business your way.

As of August 2023, 168,000 businesses offered automotive industry repair services in the United States. So, how do you stand out from the crowd and keep customers back? 

At Autoflow, we follow all these trends and have adapted our digital vehicle inspections (DVI) to match customers’ expectations. Our software solution works with your auto shop’s workflows to meet customers’ needs – and surpass them by a mile.

The Value of Automotive Customer Retention

Certainly, it’s far easier to book a service with an existing customer than to win over a new one. Look at the power of these customer retention stats:

  • Acquiring a new customer costs five times more than keeping an existing one.
  • Loyal customers spend 33 percent more than new customers.
  • Boosting customer retention by 5 percent increases profits by 25 to 95 percent.

That value only grows over time as customers return for service and repairs of varying costs. To calculate your Customer Lifetime Value, look at the total average revenue per customer and the total average profit. Next, multiply it by the number of times they return.

See how quickly it adds up?

Your auto repair shop thrives when you focus on loyal customers, not chasing new ones. Therefore, automotive customer retention should influence every business decision, from marketing strategies to service offerings. 

After all, happy customers spread the word to their friends and family, generating new traffic to your auto repair shop. Conversely, shops who rush customers through and offer shoddy work have higher turnovers. 

Wouldn’t you rather run one of those shops that people rave about?

Automotive Customer Retention Strategy in Auto Repair Shops

Winning customers’ trust begins with the first point of contact. When you impress customers with good customer service with a personal touch, they notice Let’s look at how it all ties together.

Building a Strong Service Department

When you have good people on your team, they become the strongest ambassadors to keep customers coming back. However, with a competitive hiring landscape, each year it becomes harder to hire and keep top talent. 

With younger techs in particular, working in a modern shop matters. They grew up using computers and smartphones, so they expect to use digital tools at work. Thus, texting with clients and sharing images is second nature to them. 

Setting up good systems sweeps away distractions and allows staff to focus on quality workmanship. As a result, customer satisfaction grows, building further trust and customer loyalty.

Personalizing Customer Interactions

Customers appreciate when you reach out to make sure their vehicle runs safely. By leveraging customer data, you gain valuable insights into when and how they want to hear from you. 

These details also highlight their preferences and service history, making upsells far easier. For example, if a customer cannot afford a series of repairs one month, you can reach out later. 

Having that digital record as part of a DVI makes it easy. Now, By tailoring service recommendations to their manufacturer guidelines and budget, you come across as an expert who cares about them – which you are. 

Likewise, sending out proactive and timely maintenance reminders keeps them engaged. When you personalize offers, you go beyond their high expectations.

The Power of an Effective Loyalty Program

To build automotive customer retention, auto repair shops use a variety of loyalty programs:

  • Punch cards: A full card earns special discounts and rewards on future service.
  • Reward points: A tiered points system accrues value to future service bills. 
  • Referral cards: Referrals turn into a credit toward a next visit.

While each one has its merits, they all aim to keep customers who want a relationship with your shop. A well-designed loyalty program segments customers so you quickly discern between profitable and unprofitable ones.

A loyalty program offers a direct line to customers, making communication much easier. They will more likely respond to an email or text from you than other forms of outreach.

Communicating Better Via the Right Channels

Rightly, 71 percent of customers want a consistent experience across multiple channels. Surprisingly, only 29 percent get this level of customer service.  So, you can buck that trend with proactive updates and status notifications.

As we’ve learned, customers love the transparency and regular communication during the repair process. First, they appreciate business text messages or emails to keep them informed.

Further, giving them the choice of multiple channels tailors their experience to their preferences. Let them make appointments online after dinner when you’ve closed. Using digital platforms and social media connect you in ways that suit their schedule.

Autoflow’s DVI: A Game-Changer for Customer Retention Rate

Obviously, more convenient access already makes customers love you. Now, let’s see how Autoflow’s digital vehicle inspection software plays into this equation.

In short, Autoflow creates digital templates and checklists for each make and model of vehicle. Moreover, it integrates with auto repair estimate software, your CRM and other platforms for a seamless, efficient process. 

For customers, check-ins go faster and they get inspection reports with full details, photos and videos. This all happens with lightning-fast automation, freeing up their time and yours.

How does this build service retention?

  • Customers see the work that goes into an estimate so the tally makes sense
  • You show them broken or rusted parts, clearly needing replacement
  • They literally go under the car to understand the complexity of a repair

The impact of having visual evidence clears up the need for further explanation. Now, they approve a repair with the click of a button, recording their consent to proceed.

This respect for their time and curiosity breeds trust. They feel empowered and allow you to get on with the job.

Putting Theory into Practice: Steps Toward Autoflow’s Solution

Honestly, adding Autoflow to your workflow happens more smoothly than you may expect. Our onboarding team goes through these quick steps to set you up: 

  1. Create logins
  2. Summarize Admin Menu items
  3. Add and manage users
  4. Set up company
  5. Customize your workflow setup
  6. Add DVI setup and sheets
  7. Set up parts vendors
  8. Create quality control sheet
  9. Establish rewards and referrals
  10. Confirm notifications
  11. Review page setup 

Each step takes a short time so your staff will learn the system quickly and get back to work. Afterward, our team makes sure you get the information you need to become experts in a short time.

Now, your staff can:

  • create a digital work order in seconds
  • assign work to techs as they work in the bays
  • clock in or out of a job with a click

These bonuses also pay off for customers. The first time customers see DVIs, you blow their minds with your openness and level of detail. This reflects your respect for them, even if they are not repair savvy.

Even better, you can gauge your success at automotive customer retention as part of Autoflow’s platform. Track your improvement by setting up key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the impact of digital inspections.

Having these retention rates, customer feedback and referral metrics help you focus your marketing efforts for the highest return. And that feeds into your profits.

Elevating Automotive Customer Retention with Autoflow’s DVIs

If you seek the tools to keep happy customers coming back to your shop, you now know the solution. Clearly, your auto repair shop will profit more by retaining loyal customers – the evidence is clear.

Likewise, Autoflow’s digital platform makes it evident to customers that you deserve their trust and business. You can personalize how you communicate with them, based on data they hand over with each visit. 

To get started, book a demo with Autoflow so we can show you how easy the transition will go. Soon, your automotive customer retention will grow, along with your revenues.

Chris Cloutier

Chris Cloutier

Architect/President at Autoflow

The Desire for Continuous Improvement

As an auto repair shop owner of Golden Rule Auto Care, Chris Cloutier realized the need for a better way to communicate with his customers as he observed how communication gaps created bottleneck situations and wasted valuable rack time.

Click here to

Chris Cloutier