Why automation is a crucial tool in today’s auto industry


In today’s fast-paced world, customers expect personalized communication that speaks to their specific needs and grabs their attention. This expectation increases the number of meaningful touches needed between a customer and a sales representative. With a smaller team, how can you keep up with all the text messages, emails, Facebook messenger chats, phone calls? The answer is automation.

What is Automation?

Automation can indicate a variety of things, depending on the context. However, for our purpose here, automation includes the use of digital tools to save time while automating data entry, auto responder email templates to leads, and creating deal stage driven automation. Streamlining sales processes and lead management can save hours of labor, and in a dealership, with its multiple demands on the salesperson’s attention, saved time is valuable.

According to a Smartsheet Report on Automation in the Workplace, over 40% of workers spend at least 25% of their time on repetitive tasks. Keeping track of records of leads in legacy systems wastes time and resources. It also makes it harder to find information. Using customer relationship management (CRM) software can help with both automation and organization: anyone can access leads and see who has ownership over a relationship.

Examples of Automation

Automated Emails and Text Messages

Automated emails and text messages can involve both scheduling and templates that allow sales people to plug and play by only having to enter in relevant information (such as make/model, or a personalized line). As a lead moves through a pipeline, you can send automated appointment reminders, credit app links, and so on. Additionally, it’s very easy to automate initial responses so that when a new lead reaches out, they receive contact quickly, while they are still hot. These automations don’t have to be complicated, and you can craft templates that don’t look like robo templates on the customer end. For example, a text message might look like: “Hi FIRST NAME, Just wanted to wish you a Happy Birthday! Hope you enjoy your day. Sincerely, SALESPERSON FIRST NAME LAST NAME.” The customer doesn’t know it’s a scheduled template, so it feels personalized and fosters the relationship.

Automated Retention Plans

It’s easy when new leads are coming in, and sales are on the horizon, to forget about tracking customer retention post sale. Automating retention can’t be ignored or forgotten. By pre-scheduling communication and using customizable templates, leveraging data from a CRM, sales representatives can set up a comprehensive post sale follow-up process, and then forget about it. The plan can include automated text messages and emails. By setting it up ahead of time and using the templates, you can ensure that it won’t get dropped by the wayside. Customers will be grateful and will remember the dealership when it’s time for them to purchase another vehicle.

How Can Automation Help Free Up Time for What Matters?

Automation allows for a personalized (and improved) customer experience. According to a 2019 Liana Technologies Study, 60% of companies report that the most important benefit of automation technology is better-targeted customer communication, and nearly 40% said it improved their customer experience. Providing customers with timely information that is personalized and focused on their specific in-the-moment need means that you’re offering customers the right products.

Many industries have already used automation of text messages and emails to reach consumers where they’re at with timely and relevant sales and offers. Restaurants offer opt-in messages and then send automated reservation confirmations or daily deals to drive traffic in on slow days. Grocery stores offer coupons tailored to the shopper’s previous purchases. Many airlines allow consumers to check in on their mobile devices and have automated the process of checking baggage, ordering meals or drinks, and sending ticket sales based on past flights. To customize this personalized approach, they use CRMs such as Salesforce or Oracle. There are many vertical focused CRMs available as well that can provide smaller businesses with the exact tools that they need, rather than an overabundance of product.

What About Automation in the Time of COVID-19?

Right now, consumers are spending more time than ever at home and on their devices. The concern over COVID-19 has led to individuals researching purchases as much as possible before leaving home to go to a place of business. And yet, people still need cars. People are avoiding public transportation and its higher risks, and instead choosing to purchase vehicles. Given the combination of greater time on devices and an increased need for cars, the time is right to utilize smart automation, for example, to reach out to leads who may have expressed interest in a specific model that just arrived on your lot. Presenting the right information to leads, when and where they want and need it gives dealerships a competitive edge and will be necessary to compete with companies such as Carvana, who recently began offering touchless delivery of cars. In fact, according to HubSpot, “message personalization is the number one tactic used by email marketers to improve performance.”

Lastly, automation uses digital tools to transform the customer experience by allowing for a streamlined approach and easy-to-run reports. Measuring something ensures that it gets managed and tended to. A CRM, coupled with automation, enables car dealers to save time and energy on marketing and communication without losing the personalized touch that builds a strong customer relationship and leads to closed sales.

Did you enjoy this article from Zach Klempf? Read other articles from him here.

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This has been a JBF Business Media production.