Many auto dealership service departments are trying to drum up business by touting their ability to fix all makes and models.

That expanded marketing effort needs a loyalty program beyond what auto makers offer, says Mike Goren, managing partner of MediaTrac, a customer-retention firm.

Auto maker loyalty programs might suffice for some single-point dealers. But such programs only promote the manufacturer's brand, he says.

That's of limited help to multi-franchise dealerships that fix different makes and models, and want to reward owners of those cars with customer-retention loyalty discounts and specials.

“What most dealers really want from their loyalty program is dealership branding, branding that links customers back to their showroom and their service and parts departments,” Goren says.

That is especially important for dealers selling different brands.

Accordingly, a Dodge customer can redeem loyalty points at, say, a Hyundai store, or a VW customer can redeem points for a new-vehicle purchase at a Mazda store.

“Whichever store or vehicle the customer prefers,” Goren says, proposing that dealers supplement auto makers' loyalty programs with ones that extend to all of their stores and the brands they represent.

“Under this umbrella loyalty program, consumers are united together through a common loyalty program into the dealership's larger family,” he says.