Maybe you love them, maybe they irk you, or maybe you are one, but chances are, you’re sick of hearing the term. But, before you skip over yet another article on millennials, consider this: Millennials have the most spending power of any generation.
Covering an age range of roughly 18–38 years old, millennials make up a significant portion of your customer base. According to the Boston Consulting Group, millennials have $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. That’s a lot of potential oil changes.
From their first fender bender to getting vehicles checked before family road trips, this generation presents a lot of revenue potential for fixed operations and cannot be ignored.
This being said, many fail to engage and attract this powerful market.
According to the most recent Cox Automotive Study, millennials are the generation that reports the highest dissatisfaction with the dealership experience. Twenty-five percent said they were dissatisfied and would most likely not return, according to the report. Break that down and that’s 1 in 4 of your customer base with the highest spending power.
Jeff Butler is an author, speaker and consultant on millennials, and has worked with companies such as Google, Amazon, and Linkedin and has spoken at TEDx events. Butler shares his tips for making sure millennial customers are not lost.
Follow the eyeballs.
When it comes to marketing to millennials, Butler’s advice is simple: market where they are.
“If they’re not looking at in-savers, don’t go there. If they’re not watching TV, don’t go there,” Butler says.
Find the platforms that millennials are actually using and advertise services there, Butler explains. It can be difficult to stay on top of where customers are actually coming in from, so ask or take advantage of tools that are available, Butler says.
Another technique for bringing in millennials is to look to other businesses that do an effective job [See sidebar: Attracting Millennials] Find out where they get that traffic from and reverse engineer it to fit your needs, Butler says.
Ask about communication preferences.
Once the customer has come in for a service, ask how they’d like to be updated. Butler, a millennial himself, explains that his preference for communication changes based on the situation, so never assume.
“Sometimes, I would like a text message but if someone like the plumber is coming over to my house, I may prefer the phone call because it’s more than just a simple back and forth,” Butler says.
So, when updating a customer on the vehicle status and how long it may be, a text is good, but sharing a comprehensive list of what’s going on with the vehicle may be better communicated in-person or through a phone call, Butler says.
One of the biggest concerns about millennials for the automotive industry is their lack of interest in car ownership. A study by Autotrader reports that 45 percent of millennials say that transportation is important, but owning a vehicle is not. Butler doesn’t think car ownership is going anywhere in this “Instagram society,” but he does think millennials are more price-conscious, especially when it comes to how a car declines in cost.
Creating awareness on the importance of maintaining vehicles to save money down the road is an effective way to reach this generation, Butler says. To do this, create campaigns that are more focused on impressions rather than converting, Butler says. Instead of jamming coupons down their throats, discuss the long-term benefits of vehicle maintenance.
If dealerships are losing millennials to independent shops, they need to start asking themselves what stereotype they need to overcome, Butler says. For many millennials, price is a huge factor in determining where they’ll take their vehicles, so dealerships need to do whatever they can to reverse the stigma of “ripping people off.”
Advertising as a “friendly dealer” won’t cut it with millennials, Butler says. The message and the visual story that’s put in front of them needs to convey that the dealer is trustworthy.
“You should be able to show that it’s people in the shop,” Butler explains.
Butler suggests using images of people working in the community or the dealer principal and his or her family and sharing that on the website and social platforms.
“It’s super simple, but it goes a long way to give a personal touch,” Butler says.
Doing this will address one of millennials main concern with dealerships: trust.
Remember: Millennials are more similar to other generations than you think.
When it comes to interacting with customers in the department, millennials are no different than any other generation. Good customer service is good customer service, Butler explains.
Deliver exceptional customer service to everyone that walks in your department—regardless of generation, Butler says.