In car sales, J.D. Power’s 2016 New Autoshopper Study shows that more than 90 percent of car shoppers visit online sources when searching for a new car. A dealer’s successful online presence is 10 times more likely to capture that customer’s attention, resulting in more sales. But it doesn’t end there. You want that same tech-savvy customer coming back for service, accessories, unfortunate collision repairs, and eventually, their next vehicle purchase.

Customer loyalty is something that is earned, yet there are great ways to foster loyalty. A simple points program or ‘fifth oil change free’ card may receive limited success, but technologically advanced consumers aren’t so easily swayed. You’d be mistaken if you believe that same customer isn’t researching service centers or nearby dealerships to visit for service – stores who could potentially snatch future dollars from your pocket.

Employing innovative and specialized loyalty programs takes time and is an investment, yet yields benefits in the years that follow.

Implement App Notifications

At this point, you should have an app developed for your dealership, and it can be used for advanced loyalty programs and rewards. Like the Starbucks app or your Twitter account, implement notifications that are sent to your customers. It has an express purpose: either for an immediate sale or to keep your dealership at front of mind.

Offer ‘double rewards’ days or exclusive offers through app notifications. Alternatively, use notifications for educational videos or new model releases to reinforce your dealership’s authoritative stance.

Cash is King

Again, let’s use Starbucks as the example. Purchases made through the app add points to the bank. These points can be redeemed for products with a cash value on future services, parts, or vehicle sales. No payment through the app? No points. Once the cash value begins to build, even from a few dollars, you’ve retained that customer’s loyalty.

There’s a chasm that separates points and cash value in loyalty programs. Points are easily disregarded as of no value whereas showing rewards in a cash equivalent is much harder to walk away from.

Referral Challenges

Satisfied customers send their friends and family, albeit with your encouragement in most cases. Offer your loyalty program customers an opportunity to build referral value in your loyalty points or cash toward their account. You already provide a referral bonus, so why not offer it through your loyalty program?

Make referrals an exciting challenge within a set time frame. Here’s an example:

  • Give $100 in loyalty dollars for the first referral.
  • Double up for the second referral, to $200, making the referral even more rewarding.
  • Double that yet again to $400 for a third referral.
  • Cap each additional referral at $500.

Even at an extremely high referral payout of $500, the benefits are tremendous for your store. Not only have you secured one customer’s loyalty but you’ve reeled in several of their friends as well.

An app is a must if you’re implementing a tech-savvy loyalty program, however it’s not the only approach you must take. App notifications can be disabled or ignored – double up on your point of contact with email campaigns that support your program. As well, make your program impossible to miss whenever customers visit your store.


  1. Our dealership group uses Dealership for Life for our rewards/loyalty program and it has been super beneficial in selling our dealership and holding gross. Highly recommend talking to that team- Todd is a great representative for my group


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