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Autoflow: A Convenient Guide to Acing Automotive Loyalty Programs

A Convenient Guide to Acing Automotive Loyalty Programs

December 18, 2023

Every auto repair shop owner knows how repeat business pays off. That’s why investing in an engaging automotive loyalty program delivers remarkable financial returns.

Did you know that:

  • 65 percent of a company’s business arises from existing customers.
  • A loyal customer base spends one-third more than new customers.
  • An existing customer has a 60 to 70-percent chance of proceeding with a repair compared to 5 to 20-percent with a new one.

In a time of economic turmoil, the stability arising from a loyalty program for devoted drivers makes sense. That small sacrifice sends a message of caring and creates a valued bond.

Conversely, you would have to spend five to seven times more to attract new customers than to retain existing ones. So, how do you get started? We’ll walk through the ins and outs of loyalty programs, how good ones work and how to get yours started.

Understanding Automotive Loyalty Programs

In short, loyalty programs give customers something in return for their regular business or bringing in new business. This can come in the form of savings on a next service or special offers.

Ultimately, they aim to build a stronger relationship in case something goes wrong. After all, 72 percent of customers switch to a competitor’s garage after one bad experience. However, if you reinforce your appreciation to a customer, they will likely give you a second chance.

An effective customer loyalty program thrive when it:

  • Clearly defines goals
  • Offers engaging rewards
  • Merges seamlessly with your operations and marketing strategies
  • Comes from customer data that you can personalize and customize

Once you get it right, you’ll enjoy:

  • Increase customer retention and satisfaction
  • Improve customer lifetime value 
  • Gain a competitive advantage in the market

Learn from These Successful Loyalty Programs

The automotive industry has several successful loyalty programs to inspire your shop. These examples outline how you could provide and cash in reward points:

  1. Nissan’s One to One Rewards – Vehicle owners earn points toward future service, parts and accessory purchases. They can use up to $250 in any one transaction at registered dealerships.
  2. WingStuff’s Wing Rewards – Meanwhile, motorcyclists can earn points by submitting reviews or sharing a social media post (200), signing up for the newsletter (500) or securing a referral (2,500). Soon, 3,000 points saves loyalty program members $10. 
  3. Ford’s FordPass – Finally, Ford presents points for service or purchases at participating dealerships. It has three membership tiers: bronze, silver and brand-friendly blue. Higher tiers unlock more benefits and ways to redeem points.

In each case, these companies tapped into distinct goals: retaining service customers; building buzz to draw in new customers; and creating brand loyalty for a customer’s next purchase.

As you draw up your own plan, consider what larger goal you wish to accomplish, then draw on what others do well.

Loyalty Rewards Program Ideas for your Automotive Business

Done right, automotive loyalty programs impact customers’ decisions and buying habits. For auto repair shops, this business-retention tactic leads to a greater market share and profitability. These programs come in various forms, so you can choose which one suits your shop best. 

Referral Rewards Program

Naturally, people trust other consumers to recommend a shop, either in person or via an online review. With a referral program, automotive dealerships and shops incentivize existing customers to direct friends to the business.

How? They provide discounts on services, exclusive offers or monetary rewards for each successful referral. As a result, you leverage hard-won existing customer networks, expand your customer base and build credence.

Seasonal Maintenance Packages

Naturally, shops want to encourage regular vehicle maintenance by offering seasonal packages. By providing discounts for services for specific seasons, you tap into the practical person’s current need. For instance, you can promote a winter check-up or a summer maintenance

Thus, you promote timely maintenance, ensure vehicle longevity and enhance customer satisfaction. In other words, you become an ally to keep them safely on the road year-round.

Loyalty Tiers with VIP Benefits

These programs offer premium, personalized benefits and experiences to VIP members, typically your most frequent and high-value customers. Naturally, you’ll want to carefully curate a tiered program with increasing benefits based on increasing customer engagement.

Like the FordPass program, it works best with different tiers with escalating special offers. For example, create a menu with priority service, exclusive events or personalized perks.

Instinctively, customers become motivated to climb loyalty tiers to get better rewards. As they spend more time and money with you, they foster a sense of exclusivity. In turn, they become more loyal.

Family Plan Loyalty Program

When you extend loyalty benefits to multiple vehicles within the same family, you begin to serve a future generation. It works like a referral, but gives you more time to prove your commitment to quality.

For this model, provide cumulative rewards for family members and their vehicles. In this case, you could combine service discounts or host exclusive family events. Over time, you build brand loyalty to a larger group within a household and strengthen customer relationships.

Best Practices for Effective Automotive Loyalty Programs

The best loyalty programs excel when they achieve key strategies and principles. Now, let’s look at them in more detail:

Identify target customer segments – Customer data helps you get to know your customers beyond chatting. Tap into customer records, such as digital vehicle inspections, to figure out who comes in more often and why. 

Craft enticing rewards and incentives – Deep down your customers want to feel safe when driving and confident about their buying decisions. Make it easier for them to get service notifications that make sense to them and offer potential savings.

Use data analytics for personalized offers – Sort details, such as make, vehicle age or tire-rotation history. Next, make drivers feel special with wording like “we noticed” you need something special. When you target higher-end services, you boost your profit margins.

Create seamless customer experiences – By merging repair and marketing systems, you collect data once. Next, you ask for a review or a referral when you send the invoice, making the most of each message.

Monitor and adapt for continuous improvement – Continue to learn what works and what doesn’t. Listen to customer feedback and track success rates to see what brings in the most dollars. Consumer trends change so you want to stay current to remain competitive.

Implement Your Loyalty Program with Autoflow

To save time, simply adopt Autoflow’s customizable loyalty program where you define your rewards and how customers will collect them. Our software quickly identifies the highest-potential prospects and what would motivate them to sign up. Even better, we make it simple with no hassle and an easy-to-adopt system.

Seamlessly leverage data you already have on file, then track and map referrals to as many tiers as you’d like. With Autoflow, you receive a “reward earned” indicator when a customer qualifies, triggering a congratulatory email or text.

Do all this with a single click to the customer record to quickly redeem the reward. Finally, add photos, birthdays and other personal notes or reminders. Together, these elements take your automotive loyalty initiatives to a new level.

See how easy you can get started by booking a demo today. Soon, your shop will be up to speed and rewarding customers while making more profits.

Final Thoughts

Starting an automotive loyalty program may feel like one more task on your full to-do list. However, it delivers more potential to hang onto customers so they spend more with you over many years. That way, you focus on repairs rather than chasing new business.

Having a turnkey solution like Autoflow lowers your stress. Simply decide what you want to achieve, then book a time to see how Autoflow fits into your plan. You’ll be glad you did once you see the rewards to your bottom line.


Lois Tuffin

Lois Tuffin

Automotive freelancer

Lois Tuffin