DANA POINT – Just because a customer ends up not buying a car from a particular dealership doesn’t mean that store can’t get the vehicle owner’s ensuing service work.

What it takes to win that business is heads-up marketing that uses information from a dealership’s customer-relationship management system.

Here’s how it works:

A salesperson makes a follow-up phone call to a prospect who says he ended up buying from another dealership. That customer now is tagged as a prospect for service work.

“A Texas dealer has been very successful marketing to those lost vehicle customers,” says Peter Ord of DealerSocket, a CRM firm. “The dealership sends out messages saying, ‘Sorry we lost your business on the sales side; we’d love to have you as a customer on the service side.’”

That is particularly effective if the dealership making such a pitch is more conveniently located. Many consumers will buy vehicles from dealerships that are far from their homes. But for service, they tend to look at a store that is close by.

The pitches might include incentives such as discounts or points earned for money off as part of a loyalty program, Ord says at a CRM conference put on by DealerSocket here.

When a dealership tallies a vehicle sale, that customer within 45 days should get a service-department introduction email mentioning hours of operation, specials and such, he says. “But so many dealers don’t send emails like that.”

Other ways to leverage sales data to gain more service business include marketing to used-car, parts and body-shop customers.

Good service-department marketing depends on “contacting the right people at the right time with the right message,” he says.

It is also a question of knowing what means of communications a customer prefers.

“There is a dealership next to Microsoft headquarters in Washington State,” Ord says. “They learned that Microsoft people want emails, not mail. If you mail them something, they won’t read it.”

sfinlay@wardsauto.com