THA 125: Client Loyalty Programs – Do They Work?

Brian Bates, AAM  is the owner of three Eagle Automotive in the Southwest Denver area. He began his career in 1996 working as a technician in a local dealership.  Brian is an ASE L1 Master Technician. He earned a BA Degree in Business Management in 2000, and bought his 1st shop in 2004. Look for Brian’s other episodes HERE.

Vinnie Lucido has had his hands in the automotive industry since 1996, starting in High school as a CSR at one of the last 76 Full-Service Gas stations in Reno. He found a passion for helping people through their most prized possessions, their automobile. Vinnie and his brother Anthony partnered together & opened CoAuto in 2014 and have been nothing but success in their new undertaking. Vinnie is ASE certified and has operated in every capacity of the automotive repair field. Throughout his career, he has been a customer service representative, a service writer, a technician, a manager and now an owner. Ultimately, he finds he is happiest when he is in communication with his clients and gets the opportunity to get to know his guests. Vinnie spends his time building relationships and networking and in turn, the shop continues to grow. Listen to Vinnie’s previous episodes HERE.

 

Jeff  Rudnick has been involved in the Automotive Industry since 1993. He spent 9 years as a Manufacturer’s Representative selling Automotive Parts and Accessories to clients in the Pacific Northwest. During that time, he worked directly with dozens of Manufacturers and Importers of Parts and Accessories to find distribution across all levels of the Automotive Industry.

Jeff founded The Rudnick Group in 2002 calling directly on Automotive Repair Facilities to serve their marketing needs. Initially, The Rudnick Group focused on Reminder Mailers utilizing CustomerLink’s services; this relationship continued until CustomerLink sold to Intuit. Quickly, The Rudnick Group added Brand Development, Website Design and Management, Web Marketing Services and a comprehensive Direct Mail offering. The Rudnick Group became Pit Crew Marketing in 2006 when eWardMe Auto Shop Rewards was launched.

Jeff is an avid skier, backpacker, mountain biker and traveler. Jeff’s home base is currently The Big Island of Hawaii just outside Hilo.

 

Key Talking Points:

  • A client loyalty program will not fix broken systems, processes and a weak selling system
  • What is the end game? What are you trying to do?
    • Recruiting
    • Retention
    • Bring in declined work
    • Community fundraising
    • Rewards to drive down the cost of repair
  • Many clients are loyal. These programs wrap your arms around them.
  • Find every competitive edge to build a relationship with your client
  • What is loyalty?
    • People who trust you and you trust them
  • Ideas from this episode:
    • Christmas cards to ‘best’ clients.
      • Best is relevant to your situation
    • Christmas poem is created with a staff picture with ‘cash’ coupons
      • Vinnie sent out $160,000 in Co-Auto Cash. Good toward labor only
      • Different version every year to see how long they’ve collected
    • Co-Auto works with:
      • Military
      • Hippies
      • Art
      • Education
      • Women
      • He partners with a restaurant for $20gift cards for a referral program
      • Veterans car giveaway each year. For Vinnie and his brother, it is about how it makes them feel rather than the publicity he receives
  • A rewards program does not replace doing quality work. Don’t include a loyalty program if you don’t have great processes and system that are producing quality repairs.
  • We are hyperlocal businesses and you need to consider that your rewards program can have a flair of supporting the local community
  • Talking about your charitable programs must be talked about at the counter
  • People do business with people
  • Design your program to make a real connection
  • Data collection on your loyalty program is important to find out what is working and is you are getting a return
  • 90% of Brians customers have his loyalty card
    • Reward for loyalty and include charitable programs in his community
    • Allows him to reach out to his customers through this program when he is slow
  • There are stakeholders that include your team members, your customer, and the business.
    • Team members should be involved in deciding what community organizations you will support
    • Involve your people to make connections with the groups you work with. Let them lead
    • Ask your customers what charities are they close to or involved with
    • Create a spirit committee among your team and decide your company events and what you community involvement will be
  • Customers must be reminded of their loyalty program earnings to make this effective
  • Research found that when a one and done customer became involved in a loyalty program they came back to the shop for a second and third time
  • Create a containerize loyalty program. Rewarding for taking care of their vehicle. Explain in detail how it works and benefits them.
  • Careful not to increase discounts or create expanding discount and not increase loyalty.
  • Loyalty is about giving as little as possible to get the best possible result
    • Do not get too complicated
  • This is no replacement if you don’t have a good selling system
  • Brian started to discover why some customers don’t come back
    • Called them. He discovered:
      • Bought new cars
      • Moved out of the area
  • Vinnie is texting to customers if they have not been back
    • He also likes to send surveys. People one on one may not tell you exactly how they feel so he believes a survey get close to the truth.
  • Why should someone be loyal to you?
    • A client loyalty program means nothing if they don’t have trust and a relationship
    • A program will not necessarily create loyalty on its own

Resources:

  • A special thanks to Brian Bates, Vinnie Lucido, and Jeff Rudnik for their contribution to the aftermarket.
  • Books Page HERE
  • Leave me an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one of them.

 


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About the author, Carm Capriotto, AAP

Carm is the founder and host of the Remarkable Results Radio Podcast; the only one of its type in the automotive aftermarket. Carm calls on his 35 years’ experience in the aftermarket to bring engaging stories from his guests.

Listen to raw, unfiltered, honest, and sincere stories that include insights, trends, best practices and expertise. Each interview brings an opportunity to learn one new thing through the stories of personal achievement. Many podcast guests tell their story of transformation from working in their business to working on it.

As host, Carm uses his enthusiasm and passion for the aftermarket especially the service sector to take his listeners on a journey showcasing successful service professionals’ path to Remarkable Results. He also enjoys interviews with aftermarket industry thought leaders who bring their industry perspectives to his listener.