Auto dealers hope that the consumer who drives a new car off the lot will turn into a repeat visitor. One way to increase loyalty is to establish more in-person touch points. The best way to establish these interactions may be to offer prepaid or complimentary maintenance plans while the sale is being finalized.
Research from DMEautomotive suggests that these plans are popular. About 22% of U.S. auto owners have a maintenance plan that is either complimentary (15%) or prepaid (7%). But too many of these same auto owners are not using their plans for covered services. About 25% of these customers go elsewhere some of the time while 9% go somewhere else all of the time. In studying these numbers, analysts suspected that some dealers could be suffering from a satisfaction issue. They discovered that more consumers (75%) who use these plans all the time are satisfied compared to the 66% of consumers who use the plans some of the time and report being satisfied. Analysts also found a correlation between age and the tendency to use their maintenance plan for all scheduled maintenance. Older consumers, age 65+, had a lower use rate (56%) than younger consumers. The use rate of maintenance plans for consumers between the ages of 25–34 hovers at around 72%.
Previous DMEautomotive research shows that younger consumers are generally not dealer loyal. However, their high use rates of maintenance plans give dealers a new way to promote themselves to younger consumers and increase loyalty. At the same time, dealers should be launching customized marketing pitches to buyers who already have a maintenance plan and encouraging them to use their services, now and in the future.[Source: Maintenance Plans Keep Customers at Dealerships. DMEautomotive.com. 2012. Web. 24 Aug. 2012]