Building Loyalty Among Customers

Most Porsche owners baby their cars. Dealer Ray Ciccolo decided to appeal to that protective instinct.

Service customers at Ciccolo’s Porsche Norwell in suburban Boston stay with the same technician visit after visit. They get to bring their cars in on free tech days, when they can get to know the person working on their car and receive a free vehicle inspection.

“The reason most people go to an independent repair facility is because they know the tech one-on-one,” Ciccolo said. “They know the first name; they have a personal relationship with them. So we’re trying to establish that same thing. It’s one more thing to discourage them from going outside.”

Talk to the tech

Having the vehicle owner talk to the technician, instead of just the service adviser, at visits helps breed customer loyalty, Ciccolo said. Establishing a relationship with the customer also helps the technician get invested in the car on which he’s working.

Keeping the customer and the technician together through multiple visits is a key component of Ciccolo’s strategy.

“There’s nothing worse than putting a different tech on it, and, God forbid, he gives a different opinion of what is needed,” he said. “All of a sudden, that trust can be shaken.”

Ciccolo, who owns the seven-store Village Automotive Group in the Boston area, opened a $6 million Porsche store in 2015 after deciding to separate his Porsche-Audi dealership into two stand-alone operations. The aim is to develop a concierge service approach and improve revenue and profit in the Porsche store’s fixed-ops business. For instance, the dealership will pick up and deliver vehicles needing service work to customers living on or staying at nearby Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket islands.

Four technicians are on staff, at least two having worked 10 years or more with Village Automotive Group’s Porsche operation, Ciccolo said. He has sent all of his techs to Porsche’s new U.S. headquarters and Porsche Experience Center in Atlanta, which opened in the spring, for training. It’s a way to show the techs they are valued and part of Ciccolo’s retention efforts.

“You can’t afford to lose a Porsche tech,” he said. “It’s a fortune to retrain them.”

At the free tech days, customers can come by to talk face-to-face with a technician and troubleshoot a problem they’ve been having, such as an unexplained rattle, without having to make an appointment and commit to diagnostic fees, Ciccolo said.

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