Less than half (41 percent) of first-time lessees in the mass-market category leased again, compared with 64 percent of returning lease customers. On the luxury side, 46 percent of first-time customers leased again, while 61 percent of returning lease customers re-leased. First-timers are less likely to lease again if they had a negative experience, Houston said, so it's important for lenders to learn their customers' experience level.
"Are they new to leasing? ... Are they new to your brand? Condition them to understand what will happen during the experience and understand the different things at the end of lease that drive the highest levels of satisfaction," he said.
If a returning lessee and new lessee are equally dissatisfied, the new lessee is less likely to lease again, the study showed.
"Most lenders today don't differentiate between new and repeat customers," Houston said. "You have the ability to identify that upfront. [If a customer] has leased five cars in the last 15 years, he's a veteran on what's going to occur and understands what the process is versus [a customer] who has never leased a car before."
Especially to retain first-time lease customers, the lender, dealership and manufacturer should ensure customers understand what's expected during the life of the lease and at lease end, including inspection, lease-end communication, identification of charges and settlement of the account.
"If the customer is not given the experience of, this is exactly what was expected, they're not going to be satisfied," Houston said.