How good is your database?

About a month ago I had a call from the retailer that had sold me my car. It was a sales call asking if I would like to test drive the all-new version of my car because they had some great deals on trade-ins.

This is not the interesting part, these kinds of calls happen all the time. It’s good business to target existing customers, keep them changing their car regularly generating both a good clean, known, trade-in that will be near ready-to-retail, plus sell a new car, hit a target, hopefully make some money.

What’s interesting is that this was the first contact from the supplying dealer I’d had since I bought the car more than five years ago. Ever since I left the showroom with my car in late 2011, I’d not heard from them. No follow-up call to check all was fine, not a call about servicing, nothing until now. And for the record, I live an almost equal distance from a retailer of the same brand – where I do get it serviced – who I know better, so have always used them.

At first I thought how disappointing that the retailer hadn’t got in touch before. But then two thoughts occurred. Firstly, as I still owned the car the call was still valid and now could be the time to change (it’s not, by-the-way, but I did think about it seriously). The second thought was that while I get this car serviced every year at the other dealership following perfectly timed reminder letters, they’ve never phoned to see if I would be interested in trading in my car for a new one.

Databases are full of opportunities, but if retailers aren’t using them properly they’re pointless. And I’d like to think that my experience shows that even if the customer’s file has been gathering digital dust for five years or more, it could still be worth checking to see if it’s up to date and also if they’d like to buy a car.

This story would end there, but if you’re in the camp that thinks five years is too long, then let me add this final note and the real trigger for this blog.

A couple of days ago a marketing style letter dropped through my front door addressed to the previous owner of my house. If you think five years is a long time between communications, try the fact that I bought my house 13 years ago from the executors of the previous owner’s will.


Tristan Young
Editorial Director
Auto Retail Network

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