Why Auto Recalls Aren’t A Bad Thing…And Why They Could Be Better

A Girls Guide To Cars | Why Auto Recalls Aren'T A Bad Thing...and Why They Could Be Better - Screen Shot 2013 04 12 At 10.36.09 Am

Every few months Saks Fifth Avenue has a promotion internally referred to as an “EGC” promotion. EGC stands for electronic gift card. The store promotes a “spend some, get some” event in which customers who spend $250 get a $25 electronic gift card.

This is one of the more brilliant promotions. Ever.

Because almost nothing at Saks costs $25, if I have one of these sweet little cards, I have to spend more than $25 to take advantage of it. And I never miss a chance for $25 worth of Saks deliciousness for free, even if it costs me a little more (OK, usually a lot more).

The brilliance is in getting customers to come into the store for something they can’t pass up. A freebie, a must-have, a compelling reason to come in, spend some time, get a product or service, bond with the brand and go home happy.

If car dealers and manufacturers don’t see this, they are missing a pretty big boat.

Every few months there’s an auto recall: just today a group of Japanese automakers–Toyota, Honda, Mazda and Nissan— announced a recall on passenger side airbags. So now, millions of car owners will bring their cars to dealers to have the airbags replaced and to feel more safe and secure that their cars are protecting their safety as they drive. However, accountants inside the automakers and at their suppliers are probably sweating over the costs of this recall, which is sure to be in the trillions of dollars. Very often, automakers stall the recall process in fear of the money it will cost them.

But what they should be doing is celebrating the opportunity to get us into their service centers. They should be collaborating with their marketing cohorts to figure out clever ways to wow us once they get us into the service department: put some of that groovy new technology on display, wow us with your iPhone and iPad apps, catch our eyes with wheel bling, appeal to our inner hoarders with storage ideas, solve our dirty dog problems with clever floor mats, convince us to trade in our old car for some new car smell.

Don’t just send me a recall notice; send me a reason to come to the dealer and improve my life in my car. Or, take a cue from Saks: Send me a $25 gift card and then make it fun to spend.

Because I’ll spend that, and then some, and love it.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss