By Julie Daniel, Director of Auction Sales & Development
Let’s be honest: the squeaky wheel gets the most oil. Dealers who are vocal and heavily involved with the auction staff tend to receive the most attention. Many times, these dealers are also the more prominent buyers and sellers, which means if they leave, your bottom line immediately notices the impact.
But what about the smaller dealers, the ones who aren’t the squeaky wheel and one day stop attending your auction? The reality is, these “little guys” make up the majority of customers in the lanes. While these dealers might not spend the big bucks individually, it’s important to proactively retain them because as a group, their numbers add up and can have a huge impact on your profit.
Here are some steps to ensure that you’re not only growing your dealer count with new business but retaining your current customer-base as well.
1) Ask for feedback and REALLY listen to your customers
From reconditioning and arbitration to customer service, it is important to know what your customers think of you. More importantly, allowing your customers to have a voice will help them feel valued and promote loyalty.
One way to accomplish this is through email surveys to dealers. There are a variety of options online to choose from to conduct your survey. While you might have to shell out a little money for this service, the return on investment is potential valuable customer insight into your business. With this knowledge, you will be well prepared to be responsive and make quick adjustments to resolve any unknown challenges, market changes or new competitive advantages.
2) Pull Monthly Lists
Did you know that you have some valuable data right there in your auction’s operating system? By looking at your sell lists each month, you can see who’s been 1) buying/selling cars or 2) absent. Volume variations and attendance reductions that aren’t deemed “seasonal” can be an early red flag into a bigger picture.
With this data, you have the ability to reach out to customers and gather additional information to resolve any issues before they mount. Assigning one person to this task each month for as little as one hour can be a game changer for your auction, as this personal touch can go a long way towards helping your customers feel important.
I’ve spoken before on the benefits that promotions can have for auctions. In this case, I’m speaking about holding promotions specifically geared towards keeping the smaller dealers in the lanes. Identify what is important to the smaller dealer by asking for feedback and put an action plan in place to reward them throughout the year. This dealer segment has less working capital than the “large guys” and even small gestures can go a long way.
The reality is, three small dealers leaving your auction per month will not impact the numbers enough to be alarming. But if that rate continues throughout the year, your auction will find itself waving goodbye to almost 40 buyers/sellers. At five purchases per month, per dealer, this is a loss of approximately 2,400 sales per year! It is clear that these dealers can pack a punch on the bottom line. Staying proactive as opposed to reactive will not only help you retain your current customers but also create raving fans!