There are muffins, and there are great muffins. The kind we get our of a plastic package from a vending machine or at a continental breakfast at a hotel usually meets the hunger requirements, but it's usually not exceptionally enjoyable. Compare that to a muffin from your favorite bakery and the experience can be like night and day.
Why is that? They have the same basic ingredients. There's the freshness component, but even packaged muffins are usually not that old because the shelf-life is so short on them. It really comes down to the way that they're prepared and baked. It comes down quality.
The difference between muffins is like the difference between customer database marketing solutions. When I speak to dealers across the nation, there is a good number of you who have some sort of customer database marketing in place. Perhaps it's an automated follow-up system through your CRM. Maybe you have a BDC procedure that tries to cultivate the relationship over time. These are fine and they're (usually) better than nothing, but they're usually result in very little tangible value as far is increasing sales and service business.
They're packaged muffins.
A true customer database marketing strategy requires quality, care, and strategy. It requires taking your database and improving on it based upon referencing other data that is available. It's about appending the data to make it more accurate and therefore more effective.
It also requires proper messaging. One of the biggest mistakes that I see dealers and even other vendors make is that they separate out their databases to target service customers and sales customers. The reality is that you have customers. Your service customers should be buying cars from you. Your sales customers should be getting their cars serviced through you. The strategies that can take the two types of customers and turn them into a strong set of "whole" customers is something that simply cannot be done through standard automated systems.
The packaged muffins won't get the job done.
A great muffin means putting together the right recipe (strategy) to nurture them properly. It's about staying in front of them with the right messages and being relevant to their needs before, during, and after they're fulfilled.
As you think about all of this, ask yourself if you're taking full advantage of your customer database in a way that is translating into dramatic increases in business and customer loyalty. Today, the loyalty factor has been abandoned by many simply because customers in the digital age seem to be less willing to do business with the same companies over and over again. They've broadened their horizons thanks to the internet. You can take advantage of this by nurturing them appropriately and constantly. The most successful dealers in the coming years will not be the ones that are relying on getting new business. The most successful dealers will have a strong balance between acquiring new customers and keeping their current ones.
Look at your strategy and decide whether it's really going after your current and past customers with the fervor it deserves. If not, it's time to explore a new strategy.
It's time to bake a great muffin.