Today on CBT, we’re pleased to welcome Wesley Miller, the Director of Major Accounts for LivePerson Automotive and Frank Reynolds, General Manager of Andean Chevrolet, a high-volume Chevrolet dealer located right here outside of Atlanta. In this segment, the pair discuss digital retailing trends, the impacts of new technology on dealership CRMs.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Gentlemen, thank you for joining us on CBT News.
Wesley Miller: Thanks for having us.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. So for those viewers that are not as familiar with Andean Chevrolet as we are here at the show, talk to us a little bit about the background.
Frank Reynolds: Andean Chevrolet was established in 1948 in Cumming, Georgia, a family-owned store. The owner and his sister, they’re the co-owners and then there are four sons in the business as well.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Full family-run deal. 1948, I didn’t even know they had dealerships in Cumming, in ’48. That’s amazing.
Frank Reynolds: They did.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Talk to us a little bit about, Frank, about your background and how you got in the business.
Frank Reynolds: I started back in 1993, sales to internet sales to internet manager, to sales manager, general sales manager, director of sales and general manager.
Jim Fitzpatrick: You took a journey that so many other general managers and dealers right now, are shaking their head going, “Yep, you get on the road and you hit all those different spots in the variable ops side. And maybe even in a touch a little bit in fixed ops for your training and your background, but now you’re ready to run the dealership.”
Jim Fitzpatrick: Talk to us a little bit about the impact that technology has had over the last, well since you got in the business.
Frank Reynolds: Yeah, so most people think of the CRM as our first dealings with technology and it’s certainly evolved since then. We’re going through Google Analytics and understanding that, getting into video, different forms of advertising, understanding how to evolve with that advertising as well. So yeah, technology has definitely come a long way since I entered the business.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s for sure. And that’s kind of where Wesley Miller comes in. Right. Wesley, talk to us about what LivePerson does, first and foremost, for the dealers that are watching right now that may not be as familiar with LivePerson Automotive. Talk to us about how you help dealers?
Wesley Miller: Absolutely. So LivePerson Automotive, formally known as Contact at Once. So we’ve been in the business for over 15 years, a leader in the industry with automotive messaging.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay.
Wesley Miller: And we do messaging for dealers on their site, on their mobile sites, and then we have a vast third-party network, AutoTrader, Facebook, Facebook Marketplace, you name it, where we provide the messaging capabilities as well. And then we also have a service texting platform as well for the service side of things as well.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. Yeah. And it’s really become a household name now in the automotive field, LivePerson Automotive. There’s many, many dealers that that do in fact use your product and love it and swear by it. Right. In fact, Andean is one of them. Talk to us about how you came across LivePerson Automotive and what enticed you to say, yeah, we need this.
Frank Reynolds: Yeah, so doing the research, I’ve been exposed to live messaging since ’08, really kind of coming out of the recession. So I’m familiar with all the different companies and what I was looking for, was a partnership.
And vetting out all of them, I came across LivePerson and they do more than just messaging, they truly are like a partner. We get into discussions of Google Analytics and how the product is performing on the site and then, what is the consumer doing and how can we improve that experience for the consumer.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. We hear so much today about digital retailing and the messaging is kind of that first element that a consumer is going to come across, right, when they connect with a dealership. Talk to us a little bit about the importance of that and making sure that that is done right.
Frank Reynolds: Yes. Today everything’s live and so you want … That’s the whole point of having messaging on the site, 24/7 because you’ve got to be there when the consumer’s ready. Their company offers managed chat, but we’re the primary and they back us up. And so we try to be there at all times to catch the consumer right when they have that question so that we can continue their experience.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Okay. And Wesley, when he says they back us up, drill down a little bit on that, how do you back them up?
Wesley Miller: Yeah, so we work with dealers of all sizes and you know, he has a smaller BDC department and so we’re like that, that insurance policy more or less. So if they are answering, and we know dealers get really busy at the dealership, so if they get really busy after 15, 20 seconds, it rolls over to our team and we can actually answer that. And so we’re, we’re like that extra employee for Andean.
Wesley Miller: Most consumers shop from 8:00 to 11:00 PM and we know dealers need to take a rest. So that’s why we’re here to have those live advisors to answer those, as much or as little as the dealer wants us to.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, sure. Absolutely. So when you start to consider and you look at the landscape of all of the providers for this kind of a service, I’m sure that you shopped around and you looked at others. What was it that you were looking for?
Frank Reynolds: So probably one of the first things I was looking for was a live person. Because in today’s AI or bot era, some people are using that upfront. Right. And I’ve seen the transcripts and you can tell the difference sometimes with AI bots versus a live person actually doing it.
So that was very, very, very important to me as well. The partnership aspect that I mentioned earlier, being able to sit down with someone and go through the analytics was very important to me. Other factors were having the constant touches. You know, my account manager, Katie, I’m constantly in contact with me, email, phone. Wesley is as well. So that, just nonstop, you need to look at this, look at that, pulling information from other dealer groups that are not in our territory.
Just sharing best practices. Those are the things that I’ve looking for and what I’ve found in LivePerson Automotive.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Talk to us a little bit about the results since you went with LivePerson Automotive.
Frank Reynolds: It’s been really good. We’re seeing very good engagement. I know Wesley could speak more to the results because this is his field of expertise.
Wesley Miller: Yeah. Yeah. So overall looking at the analytics, Frank knows I like to nerd out on the analytics aspect of it. So since they switched to us, we’ve seen around a 25% increase in leads. And then also just for this month, we’ve seen LivePerson Automotive, from messages to leads is around a 56% conversion. And then at the dealership, it’s around 44% conversions.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Those numbers are huge, huge. I mean, any dealer watching right now is saying to themselves that if they can bring that to my store, 25% increase in leads alone is just phenomenal today. Right?
Wesley Miller: Yeah. So that’s why we always encourage the co-manage solution because we know, again, dealers get busy, let us be there to answer those messages. We’re experts in the field. Our team is highly trained. So when we see those different conversions from a 44 to a 56%, it goes right there to show you that, hey, you know, we know what we’re doing and let us be that extra employee.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So I would imagine, Wesley, when their salespeople come in in the day or their BDC people, you kind of hand the baton to them, right, in the morning, if I understand this correctly and say, here you go, here’s all the communication that we’ve had with these people while you were sleeping, you were actually making money because you’ve got all these leads coming in and take it from here.
Wesley Miller: Absolutely. Our software is so easy to use and web-based where we can actually have the message right there, get all of the consumers’ information, hit the update button and boom the lead and the message goes straight into the CRM and then the next morning Frank can come in and-
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s a beautiful thing.
Wesley Miller: See all the leads, you know.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So every morning you’ve got a plan for your salespeople, your BDC department and go, great. This is what came in overnight.
Frank Reynolds: Yeah. So to double down what he said, it goes into the CRM, but then whoever you elect, I get straight into my inbox, the actual transcript. So I don’t have to go into the CRM. I can see, at any given time, the live chats that are coming into the system.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Very cool. So you’ve had some experience with other chat providers, right? How would you rate LivePerson Automotive and in comparison?
Frank Reynolds: They are at the top. And again, it goes back to that partnership, the products there. I feel comfortable that I’ve gotten a live advisor talking to my customers. That’s just so important, versus worrying about an artificial someone-
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.
Frank Reynolds: You know, responding and not saying the right thing.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure, sure. Out of, let’s say a hundred cars sold at your dealership, I know you do more than that, but out of 100 cars sold, if you didn’t have LivePerson Automotive at all, what do you think that number would be?
Frank Reynolds: You would definitely lose a good percentage because you’re not where the customer’s at. If I don’t have it on my website and they want to find that information right now, then they’re going to go to one of my competitors and find it there and then connect that way.
Jim Fitzpatrick: You think it would be around 5%, or more than that?
Frank Reynolds: I think it’d be more than that.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Really? More than 5% so maybe 10 or 15% even, that you wouldn’t get. So you put the numbers to that, you’re talking about 15 units, not sold, 15 trades that haven’t come in, 15 finance back ends that haven’t been realized. That’s a whole lot of money.
Frank Reynolds: Yeah. And so the lead forms are dropping and the reason why is because of the text chat communication. It’s a lot easier to do it, to go that route, then to go for lead form and then wait for the dealer to respond.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.
Frank Reynolds: And so the closing percentage is rising on that live communication.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. Yeah. So let’s switch gears a little bit and talk about digital retailing. That seems to be the big buzz word right now in the auto industry. How many people want to buy a car completely online, right? It seems to be growing every day really when you think about it. And so is your dealership prepared for digital retailing?
Frank Reynolds: Yeah, that’s a daily moving target. Now it’s up to, we were just at a conference in Napa Valley and there’s now 28 digital retailing tools to select from. So that is just growing really, really quickly.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Right.
Frank Reynolds: But I call it the Amazon effect. You know, having been in the business since ’93, really the recession of ’08, ’09 before that, the behavior or the demographics of somebody that would submit on the internet changed in ’08, ’09 and then what we’re seeing really in the last few years is now the Amazon effect is coming into play where, you know, that instant satisfaction seems to be there.
Wesley Miller: And I think one of the biggest things that stands us apart here at LivePerson Automotive is that with the digital retailing tool, we at, NADA announced that we’re now part of the accelerate digital retailing tool with AutoTrader.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh wow. Talk to us about that. That’s pretty cool.
Wesley Miller: So with AutoTrader, we are their sole chat provider on the actual site and then now we’re integrating our messaging into the accelerate platform as well.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s phenomenal, that’s a huge joint venture there.
Wesley Miller: It is. It’s a great partnership for sure.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that’s an incredible. And really, when you talk about digital retailing, chat is, as I said earlier, that’s really like the first element of digital retailing because they’re gonna go onto a dealer’s website, the chat is going to come down and there starts the process, right? Because they’re going to take, go to chat, communicate with the dealership, either through somebody at your dealership or through LivePerson Automotive, and that’s what’s going to determine the balance of that deal, right?
Wesley Miller: Yep.
Frank Reynolds: Yeah, yeah. You know, and sometimes what they’ll do is they’ll get into the digital retailing tools and if we’re not to that point where everybody wants to go all the way to the very end and then let me go pick my car up, at some point in time, and I see this quite a bit where then they engage chat at that stage too, because they’ll get to a certain point, run across something that they’re not clear on, but you’re not just going to stop digital retailing and say, well, I’ll wait until the dealership opens tomorrow on call.
What you’re gonna do then is the messaging seems like, you know what, I’m at this stage right here. Let me go ahead and message and while I’ve got this, and then continue my conversation. It’s all about customer experience. I mean, it’s totally changed over. It’s not about how many leads you get. It’s about how many experiences you create that will equal success.
Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s for sure. Well, Wesley Miller, director of major accounts for LivePerson Automotive and Frank Reynolds, general manager of Andean Chevrolet. I wanna thank you so much for joining us on CBT News to talk about digital retailing. Talk about chat and all that you’ve got going on. It sounds like you’re knocking the cover off the ball, so thanks again for sharing that with us and sharing this information. I know our dealers and GMs will get a lot out of it. Thanks so much.
Wesley Miller: Thank you so much.
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