As new-vehicle sales remain depressed, auto dealers are placing renewed emphasis on promoting customer loyalty.
"Customer retention is the next big thing," says Andy Wolfe, managing partner of Dealer Concepts LLC. The suburban Detroit company helps dealers introduce programs that reward customers for repeat business.
Dealer Concepts works with automakers such as Chrysler and Volkswagen as well as "thousands" of dealers, Wolfe says.
Volkswagen of America COO Mark Barnes says his company is running a Dealer Concepts program called Owner Loyalty Rewards. The pilot program involves a small number of dealers in California. "From a loyalty standpoint, it's extremely important we do what we can to obtain and retain customers," Barnes told Automotive News.
Chrysler LLC has a similar pilot program in the Southwest region, said Chrysler spokesman Stuart Schorr.