Two men shaking hands.Are you a hunter or a farmer? Your first response to that question is probably, “What the heck is Jeremy talking about?” Let me put it another way: Do you want a customer who will spend $20, 000 right now or one who will spend $200, 000 over time?

If you want the $20, 000 customer, then you’re a hunter. You’re mainly concerned with closing the sale and moving on to the next customer who walks through the door.

If you want the $200, 000 customer, then you’re a farmer. You want to keep that customer coming back to your dealership for years to come.

It’s easy to hunt. You target that customer walking through the door, sell them something and move on to the next. It’s like pulling up to a deer camp and seeing the hang pole full of nice bucks – if you shoot them all in one year, it may take years for big healthy bucks to return.

Now let’s think about the farmer. Before he sees any reward, he needs to prep his fields, plant his crops, make sure they’re getting enough water, watch for insects, harvest and then sell them off. Sound like a lot of work? Maybe, but the payoff is huge for the famer. He works hard, but he does it while bringing in a good income for his farm and his family, and he knows that if he keeps working hard year after year, he’ll continue seeing the benefits.

What are you doing to nurture your crop of customers? A great way to turn one-time buyers into lifelong customers is by using a Dealer Management System (DMS) paired with a Customer Relation Management (CRM) or Customer Experience Management (CEM) program to track customers and prospects and allow you to stay in touch and top-of-mind. Some CRMs, including ARI’s FootSteps® lead management solution, only cost a few hundred dollars a month.

We all sign up for offers that put us on email lists and get periodic emails with specials, coupons and other exciting stuff. Your customers want the same from your business, and having a CRM system in place can help you send these offers.

Let’s look at what my experience as a customer should look like after I purchase a new SxS from your business:

30 Days After Purchase: About a month after buying my new SxS, I get a reminder to bring it in for a service check-up. I want my unit to last as long as possible, so I make an appointment. That reminder just netted you a few hundred dollars.

90 Days After Purchase: Within three months of my purchase, I get a coupon toward some accessories. Wouldn’t you know, I use the coupon to buy a winch, fender flares and a stereo for my ride to the tune of $1, 500.

Birthday Special: When my birthday rolls around, you send me another special coupon for a discount on my next purchase to wish me a happy birthday. I spend another $500 because of it.

6 Months After Purchase. At six months, you send me another service reminder to bring my SxS in for an oil change. I make an appointment, and you get my service dollars.

Service Recall: When my unit had a recall due to a steering issue, you send me a notice to let me know. I’m glad I was in your system since I didn’t see the letter the OEM sent me. You make another $300 on warranty work.

New Product Release: Two years after I buy my unit, you send me some information about trading in my unit for the newer model with the redesigned body style and bigger engine. The upgrade is right up my alley, so I trade in my old unit and you get another new unit sale out of me.

My original unit was about $20, 000, and because you sent me emails with sales and service coupons, I’ve spent close to $3, 000 more on service and accessories at your dealership. When I got the email about the latest version of my unit, I traded in my old unit and spent close to $30, 000 on a fully-loaded new model.

In just a few years, I went from a $20, 000 customer to one that spent over $50, 000. If we repeat this process over the next 10 years, I can quickly move toward that $200, 000 mark and beyond, and that doesn’t even account for all the business I’ll refer to you from my family and friends based on the awesome experience I had with your dealership.

Not nurturing your customers and prospects could cost you millions in lost sales. Become a farmer, and watch over your prize-winning crop of customers as they keep coming back to your dealership for years to come.