Transforming that one-time buyer into a lifetime customer

The Sewell automotive dealerships continue to profit from their remarkably growing aftermarket. To learn from the best, ag analytics visited several Sewell dealerships across the US. Here are our most valuable takeaways on how to take on the challenges that dealerships face every day in the aftermarket.

ag analytics
5 min readJan 6, 2020

Setting the right habits is the road map to success

Implementing non-negotiables aimed at crucial customer touch-points has set the right habits throughout the organization. As a result, a customer-centered culture continues to guarantee Sewell’s success.

Customers don’t remember what you told them, they remember how you made them feel. When initially walking into a dealership, customers make subconscious decisions within fractions of seconds, why having the right processes and people in place is crucial. A non-negotiable is set to make customer feel welcome and comfortable, as all customers must be greeted within 30 seconds upon arriving. This reduces anxiety and puts customers at ease, who might find walking into a large establishment intimidating.

Treating customers in accordance to the organization’s values, has become integrated into everything employees do when interacting with customers. In order to deliver on key customer touch-points, employees must be provided with accurate guidelines. When having a road map to sales, employees know exactly where they’re at in the sales process and how to get to the next step. Non-negotiables and the right habits are crucial to keeping Sewell on track and translating efforts into real customer value.

The customer’s definition of quality

It takes more than great pricing, if you’re aiming to meet a customer’s definition of quality. Sustaining customer loyalty comes from building real value on the basis of relieving customer pain-points and tailoring every experience.

To sufficiently strengthen customer loyalty, an organization must be prepared to relieve pain-points and deliver great service in accordance to the customer’s convenience. When adding flexibility to the experience, customers are less likely to opt to other solutions due to being anxious about unpleasant hurdles. And so, greeting customers and offering free loan cars or free car washes are all seemingly little things that customers value tremendously.

Making everything revolve around the customer’s perception of quality is the single most important step to meeting customer expectations. The key to building value throughout the customer journey is to always talk about benefits versus features. Throwing too many features at customers won’t add value. Instead, ask how a feature might benefit the customer, whilst uncovering the circumstance of why the customer is dealing with you. As a result, the entire experience can be tailored specifically towards every customer, leading to increased loyalty.

We’ve built this machine, and it’s all around the customer. Anything they want, we have.

Measuring is the fast track to reaching strategic goals

Measuring within every segment of the organization has unlocked valuable internal insights. As a result, efforts are effectively directed towards managing issues and leading change throughout the customer journey.

Measuring on core processes can allow an organization to align strategic goals with actual efforts. Firstly, the organization must set a metric of the goal in order to accurately measure and track performance. To ensure a deep level of insight, every segment of the organization should be measured individually. Thoroughly measuring every core sales and service process yields valuable information, not just on performance, but especially on how and where improvements should be prioritized. Many organizations however continuously fail to measure adequately, leaving them guessing at what actually works and how to improve. In Sewell’s case, measuring has been a fast track to managing issues and targeting initiatives throughout the customer journey. As the Sewell manager showing us around explained: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

We have every segment of measurement, so I know exactly where my problem is.

It all starts with the right people

Sewell has successfully built a team of people devoted to providing customers with the best experience possible. The key was not to onboard people with relevant experience, but to bring in people who shared Sewell’s values.

The Sewell management is very aware of the immense impact that the right people have on the quality of the customer experience. And so, to continuously uphold a high level of performance, Sewell employees are tested for a specific psychological profile prior to being hired. Most employees are brought in as interns and college recruits, who based on their values are set to become an asset to the team. Employees are then provided with accurate guidelines as well as all the data they need to learn and improve their skills. As the Sewell manager showing us around put it: “The dream is to build people from the bottom.”

I’d rather run lean with the right people than be fully staffed with the wrong people.

Getting in touch with your customers

Delivering on touch-points and keeping customers in the loop has an immense impact on sustaining loyalty. By introducing technology clinics, Sewell has created post sales touch-points to remain in touch with customers and tap into revenue streams.

In the course of a sales process, a wide range of touch-points occur that when delivered on, can help an organization sustain loyalty. By sending regular updates as a vehicle moves through both production and transit, it is possible to keep customers engaged and excited. Purchasing a vehicle is to many people the second largest investment they are going to make in their life, why a reliable impression is key. This is also why keeping in touch with customers helps reduce anxiety whilst increasing loyalty. And so, there can be value in letting customers order a vehicle and keeping them waiting within a reasonable time frame.

In order to increase the amount of customer touch-points, Sewell introduced technology clinics aimed at helping customers use their vehicles to the fullest. When having bought a car, customers receive a follow-up call inviting them to a technology clinic with associates ready to answer any questions that might have occurred after the purchase. Creating additional customer touch-points allows Sewell to tap into revenue streams generated throughout the customer lifecycle. In the automotive industry, these include the very first car purchase and all associated service visits, then the next purchase with related service visits and so on. The clinics are therefore key to sustaining loyalty, which extends the customer lifecycle leading to long-term profit.

Do you want to learn more on how to transform that one-time buyer into a lifetime customer? Read the ag analytics playbook.



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