BRAND and dealership loyalty has traditionally been highly prized elements of successful car trading.
But it seems that things are not quite what they were according to Santander Consumer Fiance.
Independent research by the automotive finance specialist indicates that some car dealers could be missing out on potential future business by not building long-term loyalty with customers.
Its nationwide study among recent car buyers shows nearly six out of 10 (56 per cent) would value a long-term after sales relationship with the dealer they bought from but just over one in five (22 per cent) have established one.
The research highlighted how car dealerships perform strongly on service at the point of sale - more than two-thirds of car buyers say the service was good or very good when they bought their vehicle.
Dealers even score well in the year after the deal is completed with more than half (52 per cent) saying the service was good or very good in the months and year after they bought.
But Santander Consumer Finance's research shows dealers could potentially gain more business by focusing on building long-term loyalty - around 34 per cent of those consumers surveyed said they would value a long-term after-sales relationship with their dealer but do not currently have one.
Andy Green, director of marketing and innovation at Santander Consumer Finance, said: "Motor dealers are doing an excellent job at the point of sale and immediately afterwards for customers but need support in building loyalty and longer term relationships.
"Keeping in regular contact with customers will help create the loyalty and retention which will drive business growth in an increasingly competitive market."
The research highlighted other potential areas for dealers to build their business - more than a quarter (28 per cent) of car buyers say they were not offered any additional insurance products when they completed their deal while around 39 per cent say they were offered but did not buy any insurance.
The most popular product sold was a service plan which was bought by 17 per cent of buyers.