Over the past 20 years, Beck and Masten Buick GMC in Houston, TX, has been the No. 1 Buick GMC dealership in the state and, over the past decade, one of the top three Buick dealerships in the country. If you think success like theirs doesn’t come with challenges — think again. Dealerships, even the best of the best, have to maintain a high level of sales against inventory month over month and a very robust service absorption rate among customers.
In Beck and Masten Buick GMC’s case, the challenge was to keep up with the volume of potential buyers responding to ads and marketing campaigns week over week before the next batch of potential buyers would stream into the showroom or online. In addition, the family owned and operated dealership needed to ensure that any new customers would come back for service.
Since partnering with Conversica, the dealership is now trailblazing a new path using artificial intelligence (AI) assistants to solve both its sales and service challenges.
Conversica specializes in conversational AI for business and is a provider of AI-driven lead engagement software. The company’s flagship sales AI assistant helps companies find and secure customers more quickly and efficiently by automatically contacting, engaging, qualifying and following up with leads.
The AI assistants work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and can engage with hundreds of potential buyers and existing customers alike in a highly personalized two-way conversation over SMS and email to drive more showroom traffic and appointments with salespeople and to make sure that customers schedule their next service maintenance.
In less than 60 days, Beck and Masten Buick GMC’s sales AI assistant, known as Anna to her human sales counterparts, helped to sell 85 vehicles, and the service AI assistant, Grace, worked to close 123 new repair orders.
“This year, we’re projecting Anna to assist in over 600 new and pre-owned sales, and Grace will assist in over 900 service ROs,” Joe Pierce, the dealership’s general manager, said. “I can’t think of anything that we’ve spent this amount of money on and received the results that we have with Conversica.”
Anna makes sure every person who has expressed interest in purchasing a vehicle is contacted — and she excels at getting a response.
“Anna’s doing the long-range contact that traditionally is very difficult for salespeople,” said Pierce, “which allows our salespeople to engage exclusively with leads that are ready to have a conversation. On the productivity side, Conversica has made a huge difference for our sales team.”
Re-engaging Dormant Leads
One of the first things Beck and Masten Buick GMC did when they integrated the program was engage lost leads. They took non-active leads and used Conversica’s AI Assistant to start a conversation with them again.
“Our CRM prompts follow-ups, but using Anna has been more effective in engaging leads,” Pierce said. In an attempt to engage with more potential customers, they exported nearly 20,000 lost leads from their CRM. Using the AI program, they were able to generate over 200 new opportunities. Now, Anna works exclusively on the 2,500 new leads the dealership receives each month.
“How leads freely talk to and engage with Anna is remarkable,” Pierce continued. “They are more open and willing to engage with her, which is great for relationship building and nurturing our prospects up until the point they are ready to come in and test drive a vehicle or are ready to discuss pricing. Anna and Grace do the heavy lifting of being persistent and personable in this way.”
Pierce noted a surprising benefit was prospective buyers and customers more freely provided their correct contact information, mobile numbers and accurate email addresses, than ever before and they are speaking more openly about their expectations. “This shows how endeared customers quickly become to these AI assistants,” he said. “That goes a long way in helping to build trusted relationships, leading to loyal customers and repeat business — for future car sales and ongoing service needs.”
Scheduling Customers’ Service Needs
The dealership decided to take a similar approach to manage its service outreach to customers by enlisting an AI assistant. At Beck and Masten Buick GMC, service advisors used to have the exhausting task of cold calling and sending emails to try to get customers in for service. These activities resulted in a low engagement rate and a frustrated advisory team.
Now, Grace re-engages and schedules for a variety of services. The dealership is now seeing an engagement rate of 15% for services, which is much higher than what dealerships see using traditional direct mail campaigns, which have about a 1% engagement rate.
As a result, service advisors are scheduling more service appointments and answering questions from customers instead of spending hours on tedious outreach. Since each repair order generates 60-70% profit, this increase in appointments is having a big impact on the business.
AI Skills Enabled
Conversica AI assistants are capable of taking on a variety of pre-defined tasks, built as skills. So, what types of AI assistant skills are Beck and Masten Buick GMC using which other dealerships might benefit from?
Automotive Dealer Sales AI Assistant
• Engage New Auto Demand — Engages fresh contacts who have recently submitted interest in a vehicle online (for trade-in, quote requests, etc.).
• Cultivate Early Showroom Interest — Contacts who have recently interacted with a representative; either called into the dealership, walked in or chatted online.
• Activate Unresponsive Auto Demand — Follow up with contacts who were previously engaged with by a BDC person and have become unresponsive.
• Post-Sale Engagement — Immediately post-sale: pre-CSI survey, communicate with customers to ensure a happy experience during and after the car sale process; drive interest to purchase additional products such as extended warranty for those who declined it at initial vehicle purchase.
Automotive Dealer Service AI Assistant
• Onboard New Auto Customers — Outreach to customers who recently purchased a vehicle from the dealership (e.g. first service appointment, pit stop meeting to meet service team).
• Recover Lapsed Service Customers — Proactively reach out to customers who left more than 90 days ago, e.g. via service oversight/abandonment, state inspection.
• Repeat Service Outreach — Proactively initiate contact with customers who previously had their vehicle serviced (e.g. next service visit, pre-paid service reminder).
AI Drives Greater Business Results
The sales team at Beck and Masten Buick GMC appreciates that the AI assistant allows them to focus on higher-level work. When they do speak to customers, they are ready and willing to act. Customers also appreciate how personable the AI assistants communicate with them and as a result, they are doing more business with the dealership.
“Our AI assistants Anna and Grace warmly welcome customers into our dealership. Our customers feel cared for and our teams appreciate that these assistants elevate which customers are ready to buy or ready to schedule services,” Pierce said.
While Conversica is currently integrated into just one location of the four-store group, Beck and Masten Buick GMC plans to expand this integration into their other locations. The dealership might be known as a leader in the automotive space, but in short order, they’ll also be recognized as technology trendsetters in automotive sales and service.
To learn more, visit conversica.com and beckmastennorth.com.