Budget Friendly Customer Retention

We're all familiar with the rule that it's less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to acquire a new one - up to 5 times less expensive according to some sources! With this in mind, how can your dealership improve how it retains customers?

While there is no substitute for great customer service, there are some “tactical” approaches that you can leverage. The good news is that they are both effective and affordable. Check them out below.

Use Email to Improve Customer Retention

Your customer email list is one of your most valuable assets so put it to good use! Most dealerships do a pretty good job of sending service offers or promotions via email but there is so much more to email marketing than promotions. To give you an idea of what to send and when to send it, try mapping out the various stages of ownership. Here are some examples:

Post purchase

In this stage customers are evaluating their purchase and looking for attributes to support why their decision was a good one (or a bad one). Ensure this is a positive time for the customer by sending them an email to welcome them to your dealership and to ensure they are happy with their new purchase.

Early ownership

In this stage your customer has had the vehicle for a month or two. This is a good time to point out some of the more advanced features of the vehicle that may require a little configuration or explanation. Try sending them a link to a video or other resource that may be helpful. Its small touches like this that will leave your customer with a positive feeling and may even earn you a referral or two.

There are plenty of other stages of ownership. For example, middle-ownership, end of lease or financing, etc. Each stage represents a perfect opportunity to add value to your customer’s ownership experience and will greatly increase your chance of retaining them in the long run.

*Pay close attention to your timing to make sure you are sending the right email at the right time. Sending a “Welcome” email to a customer 3 months after they bought a vehicle likely won’t leave a positive impression.


It’s pretty common for a dealership to send a customer a survey after they have been in for servicing but there are plenty of other opportunities to gather feedback. For example, why not survey them on your website or even about the sales process itself? Not only will you gain some valuable insight that can improve how you run the dealership but doing so will also show your customers that you are a progressive business focused on improving their experience. Remember, people don’t just buy products and services, they buy the overall experience! Try to keep your survey as short and easy to complete as possible. This will ensure a higher response rate and encourage customers to partake in more than one survey.


There are plenty of ways to improve your customer retention. But before you go out and spend tens of thousands of dollars on that new Loyalty Program, try leveraging your customer email list first. Fantastic customer service will always greatly increase your odds of retaining a customer but why not go the extra mile and leave a lasting positive impression with your customer? One that is likely to have them returning to your dealership for years to come.