Alison Roberts – Renewals Centre Manager, Swansway

Customer renewals are too often overlooked as a central strand in a motor retail business’s growth strategy. There can be many reasons for this. It may be that times are good for the business and a plentiful supply of new customers is keeping sales staff busy. This is when positive external economic forces can distract everyone from the value inherent in renewals. However, even when a business has a defined customer renewals strategy in place, our research suggests that it can under-perform simply through missing the opportunities around the very best moments for customer contact. Rigorous processes can also fail to deliver simply due to the wrong staff being tasked to implement them.

We recently published research revealing that it is not as unusual as it should be for a customer renewal strategy to result in only one sale for every ten or even 20 customers contacted. But when a renewal strategy is implemented well, with the right people delivering it, the results can be spectacular. So it is with Swansway, a dealer group concentrated across the north west and selling 13 brands. At Swansway a combination of the Chrysalis Loyalty Key2Key system for understanding the optimal timing based on the customer’s financial position and the available offers to enable them to change car along with a highly skilled call centre team nurturing the strongest customer relationships delivers best-in-class results with one sale to every 1.4 customers contacted.

Alison Roberts heads a team of five, focused exclusively on Swansway’s customer renewals. And last year they brought in 800 sales for the franchise brands with which they are supplied the Key2Key data and dashboard system. Their success stems from a combination of clearly defined process with ‘soft skills’ so effective that many customers are on first name terms with the team – who are also regularly fielding inbound calls from people anticipating the renewal process.

A sign of Swansway’s understanding of the value of such skills is that Alison had no prior background in car sales when she began building the team. Today, with the advice and help of Chrysalis Loyalty, the team is delivering best-of-breed results. Although Key2Key provides unrivalled insight into the options for renewal at very specific moments in a customer’s contract, the strength of the Swansway strategy stems from a holistic approach to the long-term customer relationship.

She explains: “Three years ago we began making calls at two, eight and 14 months, just to keep in touch and understand what their needs are.  Even if we can see they are not in a great position now we can get a clearer understanding of where they will be in the future. They are never surprised to receive the calls because we give the customer a booklet when they first buy their car, explaining how we will maintain contact with them and why. It’s very softly softly, with no hard sell and the customers appreciate it. They may have had problems with something like pairing phones with their car and we help them with things like that. Only about a third of the calls we make are with the intention of setting a renewal appointment.

Alison Roberts (2nd from left), with members of the Swansway renewals team.

“Key2Key shows us exactly where they are in terms of their opportunity to change and in the cases of brands where we do not have the Key2Key data it is a much less qualified call – more a stab in the dark. Having insight into the customer’s exact position also gives us as callers more confidence and so those calls are more professional. It means there is no risk of wasting their time and that means our own time is spent more efficiently too.

“One brand just took Key2Key and we have literally been able to move on from using a spreadsheet and a phone to manage those customer contacts to a clear window on where they are in their contract and their opportunities to renew.

“We also use Key2Key as a communication tool between sites, sharing notes about the customers, vehicles they are potentially interested in, or if they have a life change that necessitates changing their car. Everybody who has access to Key2Key understands that customer.

“Many customers now know us by name and the conversations are very pleasant and friendly because they trust us to have their interests at heart. Even people who are a little wary about why we are calling them at first are happy with the contact when they understand what is happening. We have even started to receive inbound calls, now that customers know us, asking when they can have a chat about their renewal.”

This case study was first published in Auto Retail Profit.

More advice from Chrysalis Loyalty on how to implement a transformational customer renewal strategy is available in the recently published white paper ‘How to create loyal customers and drive real growth in sales and profitability: A Chrysalis Loyalty guide to best practice for automotive brands, funders and retailers’. The white paper can be downloaded, free, from