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How to Keep Your Customers' Loyalty in 2024?

Learn the industry tricks and best practices of increasing customer retention and loyalty to quickly grow your used car dealership business the easy way.

A woman in the driver's seat of a car with a man looking into the car in a car dealership

It’s no industry secret that loyalty to car dealerships is the quickest way to revenue growth and expansion opportunities. Fortunately, there are many strategies available to you when your goal is to increase customer retention, and in this article, we’ll cover the most important ones.

So keep reading and learn the tips and tricks of automotive brand loyalty that will motivate buyers to keep coming back to your dealership!

Is customer retention important for car dealerships?

As a used car dealer, you find success when your customers keep coming back to buy more used cars for their dealerships. That’s because building trust takes time and resources, meaning it’s much easier to sell to buyers who are already convinced that you offer quality stock and a reliable service.

Besides, working with dealerships means you have a finite pool of customers, and every relationship you create counts. 

That’s why automotive brand loyalty really matters in our industry. The more customers you manage to retain, the more easy sales you stand to complete in the lucrative future of your business.

And it’s not just saying this. The data on the importance of customer retention in the automotive industry tells the same story.

Long-term value of enhanced customer loyalty for car traders

Customer loyalty has long been recognized as an essential part of sales. In fact, a majority of experienced dealers identify retention as their most important area of investment and effort.

Infographic showing that car dealers prioritize customer retention to enhance business
Illustration: eCarsTrade / Data: Coxautoinc


That’s because they know that every cent invested in loyalty in auto sales pays back many-fold in increased revenue. One study by GM found that a mere 1% increase in retention investments translated into €650 million in increased revenue. That’s €140,000 more for each one of their dealerships (converted from $).

This alone justifies spending money to fund various customer loyalty programs. But where to even start?


How to improve your dealership's loyalty, retention, and customer return rates?

Here’s the good news: there are many customer loyalty strategies in car sales that are available to you. Some require more effort with a bigger ROI, while others offer easy fixes for quick results.

In this article, we will be covering strategies such as: 

  • Reward programs: actions you can take to motivate the buyer to return.
  • Referral programs: turning your buyers into brand ambassadors who help you expand your client base.
  • Relationship building: focusing on more than closing sales.
  • Car inventory enhancements: why should the buyer go elsewhere when you have everything they need?
  • Customer journey improvements: find out what customers need and act to provide it.
  • Post-sale support: show them you care even after the deal is done.
  • New acquisitions: returning customers are key, but don’t forget to add new buyers as well. 

With these strategies laid out, let’s take a closer look at how you can increase customer loyalty and improve customer retention in car dealerships.

Reward customers for loyalty to your dealership

Making the decision to give your money to a specific seller, especially when buying something expensive, like a car, is not easy. That’s why it definitely makes sense to reward customers who chose you. This reinforces their decision and motivates them to come to you again when they’re ready to make another buy.

And that’s why loyalty incentives for car buyers are so effective. According to consumer research, they motivate a great majority of customers to return. 

infographic showing that consumers say belonging to a loyalty program makes them buy again
Illustration: eCarsTrade / Data: Yotpo

Utilize reward programs

Automotive reward programs come in many shapes and sizes. What they have in common is that they usually look like a club customers can join and then enjoy rewards that become available with every purchase.

For example, Nissan offers its reward program members price reductions for future purchases. Have a look at the image below to understand how the program works. 

nissan loyalty program
Nissan rewards customer loyalty with program dollars


So, whenever a member purchases a car, they receive “program dollars” that can be put towards their next purchase. Interestingly, customers can also earn rewards when they buy parts or service their vehicle at Nissan’s service points. 

Leverage word of mouth with a referral program

Referral programs work similarly to reward programs, but they can be even more effective. Why? Because, on top of maximizing client loyalty in auto sales, they also enable you to attract new customers.

Referral programs have a simple process. All you need to do is inform your customers that they will be rewarded if they bring more customers to your dealership. Once that new customer, the original buyer’s contact buys from you, the promised reward becomes available. Optionally, you can also reserve a special reward for the new customer. That will make their purchase just a little more likely.

At eCarstrade, for instance, we show our appreciation to customers who refer their colleagues by offering a selection between Amazon gift cards and promo codes customers can put towards their next purchase.

screenshot showing ecarstrade referral program for car dealersRefer a friend easily by sharing a referral link


To make sure the referral sticks, we also treat the new customer to their own set of promo codes so that they can grab their first deal on our platform at a discount.

Build strong relationships with customers

The biggest trend in sales, including used car sales, is customer-centricity. Buyers have many options when they’re choosing a vendor, and they will usually opt for sellers who can give them the best possible auto dealership customer care

But what does good customer care actually mean? According to new research, it mostly means understanding needs, taking action quickly, and providing a personalized service.

infographic showing that modern customers expect fast tailored services
Illustration: eCarsTrade / Data: Zendesk


In other words, it’s not enough to sell a quality used vehicle. For client satisfaction in the auto industry, the experience around the sale needs to be high-quality as well.

Sustaining client relationships in automotive sales can be done in many ways: 

  • Answering calls and replying to emails quickly: when customers have questions or concerns, don’t make them wait or, worse, forget to address them but answer as soon as possible.
  • Being aware of your buyer’s history with you: address them by name, ask about their previous purchases and how happy they are with them, call or email them with special offers that would benefit them.
  • Showing your appreciation: special deals, bonus equipment, discounts on maintenance for your loyal buyers.

In short, do everything you can to make your buyers feel special and appreciated and you’re sure to see them again in your dealership.

Enhance car inventory

In the previous section, we said that providing high-quality cars isn’t enough to keep customers loyal to your brand. While that’s true, it doesn’t mean your inventory isn’t a priority. Dealer loyalty actually begins with great car stock.

What you’ll want to do here is ensure that you’re delivering on what you promise. If you’re selling a used car in “top shape”, be certain that it really is in top shape. 

If you’re giving a good price on a car with some problems, provide a detailed explanation of what the buyer is getting and offer advice on how to get the most of it. Also, make sure the cars you’re selling have every document the buyer needs to resell it successfully.

It's simpler than ever with eCarsTrade auctions

eCarsTrade is your strategic partner when your goal is to enhance car inventory and build loyalty in your customer base. Not only do we have a huge selection of cars to help you solve any need your buyers have, we also offer extensive photo galleries and full documentation so you always know what you’re getting.

ecarstrade offers a large selection and reliable serviceeCarsTrade: large selection, competitive pricing, reliable service


If your dealership is in Belgium, Germany, France, or the Netherlands, it’s never been easier to browse, buy or bid on, and quickly pick up used cars for every need.

Get more insights about the customer journey

One thing to remember is that sales are not an event. They are a journey your customers take that starts with interest and never really ends. Making sure that the journey is smooth and comfortable is an excellent way to ensure you retain your buyers and motivate them to come back.

Improving your customer journey has two parts: identifying the pain points and taking action to solve them.

Identify pain points

Pain points are those parts of your customer journey the buyer struggles with the most. An easy way to identify them is by analyzing feedback from your customers. For example, you can send out a customer survey after purchase or go on Google and social media to find out what your customers found best and worst about the buying process.

Make your car purchasing process simple and transparent

Once you’ve identified the pain points, you can move to optimize and solve them

For example, if you find out that the sales paperwork was a hassle, you can optimize that pain point by reducing the needed documentation or adding a “sign online” option to speed up the process. 

Small improvements like this one will smooth out and simplify the customer journey, making it likely the customer will be happy to buy from you again.

Improve post-sale support

As we said in the previous section, a good sales journey doesn’t end when money exchanges hands. Providing after-sales support in car dealerships is a good way to prove you care about your customers and build trust that will keep them coming back. You can provide this kind of support in several ways, for example:

Personalised messages 

After your customer gets their used car, make sure you follow up and ask if they are satisfied with the purchase. You can also ask them for feedback and tell them you’re standing by to support them in any way they need. 

graphic showing post sales process and sending a message to customers

Implement received feedback

If the customer provides feedback, it’s a good idea to act on it, as long as it’s reasonable and possible to implement. This will provide you with a way to improve your customer journey, as we already discussed, and it will also tell the buyer you are attentive to their needs when they return to your dealership. 

Remember, closing a sale is important, but if you want to increase your chances of closing another sale with the same customer, do what you can to provide post-sale support.

Don't forget about acquiring new customers!

Every one of your returning customers was once a first-time buyer. That means that an important tactic for increasing automotive customer retention is new customer acquisition. One thing car dealerships often get wrong is investing too little in marketing and neglecting to go the extra mile to prove you offer quality cars.

Learn how to create a marketing strategy for your dealership

To spread the word about your great offer, you’ll need to invest in marketing and promote your dealership across different channels. You can pick and choose what suits your style best:: 

  • Billboards, flyers and other printed materials
  • TV and radio commercials
  • Online ads
  • Social media marketing

The best approach is to do a little bit of everything as a part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. This will ensure your unique value proposition and the character of your dealership really shines.

Showcase your inventory with high-level car photography

A crucial part of your marketing strategy is how you visually present yourself. Remember, humans are visual creatures, and they respond to appealing images better than other types of media, such as pure text.

So make sure you diligently photograph your stock with a camera or a high-quality mobile phone and regularly post those pictures on resources such as your social media profiles.

photo of a car within an instagram post

Instagram is one of the best channels to post high-quality photos of your stock

With your cars in front of the eyes of potential buyers, you should have an easier time getting people to check out your offer in real life, too!

Maximize your client loyalty and boost car sales

We hope this post has armed you with valuable information and advice on why it’s important to invest in customer retention. As you build a loyal customer base, use the tips we’ve outlined here to keep customers coming back whenever they need a quality used vehicle for their day-to-day.