What is a Customer Worth?

Every customer has a value to your dealership and to you. What is a customer worth to you? Most salespeople don’t think of what a customer is worth to them over the lifetime of the customer, most salespeople, and dealerships for that matter are only concerned about what a customer may be worth to them right now. Never thinking about the future.

Heck, I used to think that way early in my sales career too. That was until I read the book, Customers for Life by Carl Sewell. This book changed the way I thought about customers. In the book, written originally in 1990, the author breaks down how much a customer will spend over their lifetime for their automobile needs. He calculated that the average customer would spend $517,000 over their lifetime and why shouldn’t they spend ALL of that money with his store.

He proceeded to create a culture where every employee valued and treated their customers like they were spending that $517,000 right then and there. An added bonus to this theory, is every one of these customers, if treated well, has the ability to refer another customer to his business and that customer is worth another $517,000 to the dealership. This can go on and on exponentially.

Now, as I stated earlier, this book was written back in 1990, thirty-one years ago. Using an inflation calculator, I did the math to see what this $517,000 would represent here in 2021, an astounding:


Think about that, every customer that you help could be worth over a MILLION dollars to your dealership over that customers lifetime.

Using this same concept, let’s figure out what a customer is worth to you.

Let’s assume that a customer buys a new car every 3 years (easy to count on if you lease them), and you are committed to your career for 30 years. That means they will buy 10 cars over the course of your career. If your average commission is $350 dollars per sale. That would be $3500 in commission for these 10 cars. Not a huge amount, however that is because there are a lot of factors this equation is not considering.

First of all, we all know that repeat and referral customers pay higher commissions. So, in theory each vehicle sold going forward would warrant a higher commission. Additionally, the average household have 2.5-3 cars in it, so that is 25-30 cars for the household over that same 30-year period. Another factor that is not being accounted for in this equation is, the referral business generated through this commitment to RELATIONSHIP SELLING. Each and every one of these referrals now become another customer and household that is worth another 25-30 cars over a lifetime. Yet, another aspect that is not being accounted for is the CSI and Volume bonuses that are being obtained through this futuristic outlook.

As you can see the value of a customer to you, can exponentially grow to an astronomical number very quickly.

So, how do you make this happen?

First of all, have a GENUINE INTEREST into the customer’s long-term well-being and start treating every customer at every interaction as their total future value to you versus their immediate value of this sale.

Next, BECOME THE AUTHORITY on all things automotive. It is not enough that your customers know that you sell whatever brand you work for. They must think of you when anything related to any automotive needs. If the customer wants better insurance, they call you. If they have a friend that got in an accident and needs their vehicle repaired, the customer calls you or refers to you. You must always be their immediate thought. You do this by staying top of mind with your customer through a diligent value offering follow-up program. You cannot just say you are the authority and not have the ability to deliver on it. You cannot just have the skills and not let your customers know about it. You must be the total package, offer that total package to your customers, and you must do this often. Your customers are WORTH IT!



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