How AI is helping dealers engage with car buyers

How AI is helping dealers engage with car buyers


As today’s car buyers evolve, so must the technology within the dealership, which is why it is critical for managers to choose the right vendors. On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Kevin Pitts, the general manager at BMW of Reading, owned by the Tom Masano Auto Group, to learn more about DriveCentric, a customer relations management platform that has helped improve response times, engagement, customer experience and the overall bottom line for his storefront.

As dealers know, it can be difficult to track website users and their communications with chatbots or customer representatives. The inability to keep up with these conversations means that storefronts could be losing out on business they may not even be aware exists. However, Pitts notes that the transition to DriveCentric helped boost engagement almost immediately. “I was watching just the engagement just fly through the roof,” he remarks, “the amount of leads we were getting was still the same, we didn’t change anything other than the CRM, but we got full insight into everything that we were doing, all the conversations that were going on, and it just exploded.”

DriveCentric drove so much engagement that Pitts and his team had to develop new ways of handling the influx of users. The platform’s ChatGPT plugin, called the “Genius Tool,” was able to start and maintain conversations with prospective car buyers at a far greater rate than normal sales teams and competing CRM software but still needed a human to take over for certain steps. To prevent these conversations from being dropped due to a lack of manpower, Pitts opted to create an “engagement center” staffed with employees that focused solely on progressing leads once ChatGPT had advanced the discussion as far as it could.

This proved to be much more effective than hiring additional staff in the sales department. “You look at a traditional sales funnel…a lot of the top of that funnel can be handled by anybody that has access to the data, so salespeople don’t necessarily need to be involved in that portion of it,” Pitts explains. While training for a traditional sales role in the dealership can take months, he notes that it only took two weeks for the engagement center’s new employees to finish training. The move turned the DriveCentric platform into a highly proficient assistant, which could boost sales numbers without removing the human touch needed to get customers in-store.

Pitts notes that the DriveCentric suite has also reduced the number of tools needed to grow his dealership’s business and take care of car buyers. “[My] background is in accounting, so I’m an efficiency aficionado…that was huge for me when we decided to do this,” he comments. The employees also benefited from the platform’s streamlined toolkit. “They talk about the prior places they worked at, it was four or five, six tools that they were using: DriveCentric does it all in one, and you can do it from our phone…”

Communication is key for keeping car buyers engaged. By working with vendors like DriveCentric, dealers can be sure they are using their leads to the fullest potential. The advantages, as Pitts notes, are “game-changing.”

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