Michael Gorun was ready for the life of leisure after selling CarSmart.com, an online car-buying service he started in the 1990s.
“I thought I was done at that point,” he says. “But after 18 months of working in the yard and talking to the pets, I started to look around.”
It led to him founding MediaTrac, a California firm offering card-carrying customer-loyalty programs that let dealers gauge their success and systematically track buyers' spending.
“I've sold products to dealers my whole life,” says Gorun. “I've been in thousands of dealerships. This is the only product I've peddled to them that has had such a ‘wow’ factor.”
Using basic reward psychology and modern tracking software, it works like this:
Dealers give customers plastic cards that look like credit cards, but with the dealership name on them.
Every time those customers return to the dealership for service work, the card is swiped to record accumulated loyalty points that can be redeemed for free oil changes, car washes or whatever a particular dealer wants to give to reward repeat business and encourage more of it.
For dealers, the card-swiping also records individual customer spending habits and levels — information that can be used for targeted marketing campaigns.
“It's specific to the individual,” says Gorun. “If a customer comes in a lot for oil changes, why send them a discount incentive for an oil change? They're already coming in for that. Send them something else. Send the oil-change coupon to someone who isn't coming in for that.”
He adds: “We took the best elements of CRM (customer relationship management, a computerized tracking system) and married it to the loyalty cards.”
This month MediaTrac plans to introduce a loyalty-reward program for dealership employees who can earn points for achievements such as good attendance and high sales. The tallied points are good for prizes such as iPods, TVs and travel.
“We think it will cut down on employee turnover, which is a problem for many dealerships,” says Gorun. “Plus, if your employees are loyal, it increases the chances your customers will be, too.”