Castrol Oil's new Smart Customer Card is designed to make the customer want to bring the vehicle back to the dealership for maintenance and repairwork. Castrol will mail the plastic card to customers who purchase a vehicle from a participating dealer. Also mailed for free is a card reader that connects to any PC.

The card has a computer chip that includes the dealership's customized information about service specials, coupons and discounts. The customer can know what specials and discounts are available over the life of the vehicle.

Whenever the customer returns to the dealership for service, the card is scanned and a record of all of the work done is downloaded onto the card's chip. New discounts and specials can also be downloaded.

The customer can insert the card into the card reader at home and view all of the maintenance history and see when and what maintenance is recommended.

Robert Landerer, channel development manager for Castrol, has 20 years of dealership experience and helped create the program.

He says, “The program makes it easy for the customer to come back to the dealership. And because all of the discount and special information is included on the card's computer chip, the dealer will not have to spend money on printing and mailing coupons to customers.”

Jim Fynes, general manager for Phil Long Ford in Denver, CO, says the Smart Card will reduce his direct mail and printing costs by half.

“The card provides an immediate attachment between the customer and the dealer. It acts as a constant reminder to the customer to return to the dealership for service,” says Mr. Fynes.