20 October 2022
Turning Chats into Signatures: A Case Study


Securing a deal from the first chat interaction online to the last signature in the box – The Retail Anywhere journey at Temecula Valley Buick GMC

Prior to switching to Gubagoo to manage chat leads, the team at Temecula Valley Buick GMC was simply checking a box to tell their OEM, “yes, we have chat”. According to Vice President of Operations John Keohana, they chose a chat provider because they had to, not necessarily because they wanted to.

Those incoming chat “leads” were ignored, largely because of the quality. Leads from their previous provider would often be unclear, filled with missing information. This would lead to a frustrated sales team as they waded through incomplete leads. For the sales staff, this was a massive obstacle.

But John places customer information on a high pedestal. He says it’s the “Holy Grail” to do business effectively, and he knew there was an opportunity to get more quality touches in this area.

That’s where Gubagoo stepped in. Today, what Temecula Valley gets through chat is more than just a lead.

Gubagoo’s fully managed chat solution – ChatSmart – emulates a human-to-human interaction, making it easy for customers to achieve what they came to do on their site. With this personalized approach, Temecula Valley Buick GMC can capture every needed piece of information on every customer; contact information is never missing. John saw very quickly that customers’ questions were being answered online, and they were capturing information more efficiently. This resulted in qualified leads increasing 5-6%.

“We get the customer’s name, number, the vehicle they were looking at, how far in the process they got,” Keohana says. “And then we pick it up from there and sell the vehicle just like any other lead, but now we have more information about the customer.”

Expanding traditional retail

Temecula Valley typically sees upwards of 1,300 incoming internet leads per month. Around 15% of them start through Gubagoo’s Virtual Retailing solution. Because of this advanced tool, customers can go through the standard steps in a deal, sometimes on their own, sometimes with assistance from the dealership, but in a remote environment.

The customer enters their information, reviews applicable rates and rebates, submits the credit application, enters their trade, calculates monthly payments, and even submits documentation – all from the comfort of wherever they are. These buyers may be starting their journey online, but that doesn’t mean they end there. At Temecula Valley Buick GMC, “less than one percent of car deals sold are completed 100% online.”

If their online buying segment is so small, does it matter all that much to leverage Virtual Retailing? John thinks so.

“(Virtual Retailing) helps us compete against the Carvana’s and CarMax’s of the world. We’re able to present the car, present it down to the penny payments, and we’re able to do it quickly,” he says.

Customers complete as much of the buying process online as they want to, and if they choose, can finish in-store. Then the dealership seamlessly picks up the deal right where it left off, with more information than ever before, to get it closed.

John and his team have gone from simply checking a required box to really seeing the value.

“Chat and Virtual Retail are now an asset, versus something we had to do before,” Keohana says.

Making a mark in F&I

With customers working through a large portion of the deal before coming to the store, it’s a grind in F&I. Customers are trusting and agreeing to aftermarket products like GAP or extended warranties and opting for one of the banks Temecula Valley is promoting. John has found that if a buyer makes it this far online, they are far more open, and more often than not, it’s a done deal. The only thing standing in the way is signing the paperwork.

Since California still requires some wet-ink signatures, the signing ceremony is typically when the online to in-store handoff takes place. 

“Everything the customer has done online is available in our F&I tool in-store,” Keohana says. “We have the right vehicle and the right customer record because it’s in the DMS. Once the customer walks themselves down the path online, it’s a seamless finish in-store. As long as we can get customers to calculate their payment online, we’re basically at the two-yard line and headed toward a deal.”

A Journey to Retail Anywhere

The day-to-day that John describes at Temecula Valley is the Retail Anywhere approach: The idea that customers can start their car buying journey from wherever they are, and move in and out of the dealership at any point, but the key is a single, seamless process for them and the dealership employees.

From the detailed chat record, to the full virtual retail experience, to the connection with the DMS, the Retail Anywhere approach follows every touch point so that Temecula Valley can retail beyond their four walls. They are capturing every opportunity, in the most profitable and efficient way.

Temecula Valley’s customers are able to get right up to the goal line, and the sales team gets them into the end zone, or in this case, a new ride.