Customers are invited into the rewards program via email after their purchase. More prizes are offered to customers who sign up on the Incentivefox-managed sites, adding incentives for customers to make multiple referrals.
After referral information is verified by someone designated by the dealership, a prepaid, reloadable reward card is sent to the customer. Downloadable apps from Incentivefox, of Frankfort, Ill., also include a service scheduling tool, parking assistance and local gasoline pricing checks.
"Their system is based on a reward card, which by design encourages people to think of us as they spend their money. We have seen a slight uptick" in referrals, Cahan said. "I think it makes it worthwhile for customers to keep it on their phone."
When the money is sent, the customer is notified, and an invitation to join the rewards program is sent to the person who was referred. An Incentivefox spokeswoman estimates between three and five cards are sent out per week from dealerships using its system.
Jack Cochonour, head of corporate support at Bettenhausen Automotive in Orland Park, Ill., said Incentivefox is meant to supplement referral programs driven by relationships built on the sales floor.
"You see which sales managers use it the best, which sales managers try to circumvent the system," he said. "When you look and see who sells the most cars, it turns out in most cases they have the most referrals, too."
As Bettenhausen Automotive's business development director in 2014, Cochonour was responsible for switching two of the group's dealerships — Bettenhausen Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram and Bettenhausen Alfa Romeo, both in Tinley Park, Ill. — to the new system.
While the referral numbers aren't high, Cochonour said each one helps.
"It's enough in these days where it can make the difference in whether you make your quota or not," he said.