Everybody is talking about Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days. There’s a buzz about ChatGPT. As per a study by IBM, 54% of organizations using AI are seeing cost savings and efficiencies, and 48% are seeing a better customer experience.
So can AI help car dealers, or is it like the AI robots sent back from the future to kill John Connor? Will it take our jobs?
WE ARE USING AI EVERY DAY!
The good news is that we use AI daily to make our lives easier, more productive and more enjoyable, whether we realize it or not. For example, one of the first things most of us do each morning is open our phones with a face ID or fingerprint scanner. AI in your phone analyzes your face or fingerprint using thousands of points, recognizes it is you and you are on to your routines.
For those of us in metro areas, we dread the red line on our maps. And whether we are going to work or on vacation, we have all become dependent on directions, traffic and rerouting. All of these are being delivered through AI.
And how many of us can go a day without searching Google for something? Without AI, we’d never get those answers in milliseconds.
WHAT DOES AI NEED FOR IT TO BE EFFECTIVE?
AI enables car dealerships to do things faster and with less effort, enabling us to do things we never thought we could tackle while removing tasks we are not best suited to do from our plates.
So, you can see that AI isn’t some evil force from the future. It’s here to make you more efficient and enable your team to do more.
What else does AI need for it to be effective? Automation. Without automation, AI’s effectiveness is very limited. Let’s take the example of Netflix. Netflix has around 250 million users and possibly around a billion user profiles. Each profile gets recommendations tailored for them in real-time. These automated profiles drive most of what we watch on Netflix.
Now imagine if AI was creating these curated lists but giving them to humans to feed them manually to the users. What would happen? You would need half of the world’s population to do that; still, the output would be far inferior.
For the AI to be effective, you need automation to ensure that AI output is delivered or consumed for the most impact.
The good news is that dealerships are already using basic automation, for example, to send templated emails to prospects on a pre-defined cadence. AI makes automation intelligent and impactful.
AI AND AUTOMATION FOR DEALERSHIPS
Dealerships have historically needed more access to data, making it difficult for them to provide personalized experiences or run their operations with predictions and recommendations derived from data.
AI and automation can help solve this problem by providing greater visibility into customer behavior, allowing dealerships to improve their ability to personalize offerings based on individual needs.
Here are just a few examples of how the best-performing dealerships are becoming more efficient with AI and automation:
Customer communication: AI is excellent at crunching numbers and finding patterns. It can create a 360-degree view of every shopper. This customer intelligence can become the backbone for all customer and prospect communication as well as sales and marketing efforts.
Lead management: One of the biggest challenges dealers face is getting more sales from customers who have already contacted them. Hundreds of leads go unsold monthly, and dealers have thousands of unsold prospects in their CRM. AI can intelligently nurture unsold buyers and align with the buyer’s preferences and shopping journey. It creates an upside that is not possible with today’s tools or processes.
Fixed-ops: Fixed-ops revenue is a significant contributor to a dealer’s bottom line. AI and automation can increase that high-profit margin revenue stream by identifying service customers who may be looking to buy, bringing back lost service customers, getting more revenue from declined repair orders and engaging current service customers. It can align the service messaging around customer preference, vehicle usage, maintenance needs or problems associated with a similar model car.
Drive efficiencies: AI and automation can help dealers drive operational efficiencies by reducing time spent on routine, labor-intensive tasks and freeing up staff to focus on more valuable work.
MOVING TOWARD AN AI-DRIVEN FUTURE
AI and automation will help define the future of car dealerships. So how do you get started?
First, you’ll want to look at your financials and identify the most significant contributors to bringing the net and gross profits down. Once you have identified the areas, look for AI and automation tools to provide better customer service while eliminating more mundane tasks that take time, energy and cost.
Look for examples from best-performing dealerships or think outside the box by looking at how other industries are solving similar problems. Then think about what you wish you could do today but cannot because of people, tools or processes. Some of these may be accepted reality for the dealership business, but you will find that AI and automation can provide you the superpower to do what you never thought possible.
AI will be transformational for the car dealer business, similar to how the computer was when it came late last century.