Leif Johnson Auto Group has been a family-owned and operated dealer group for over 67 years, with customer-centricity at the heart of the business. As economic and supply chain conditions caused inventory levels to drop and customers were increasingly ordering their vehicles online, the Leif Johnson team recognized the need to evolve to their customers’ changing preferences. They aimed to provide an integrated online and in-store shopping experience.
Leif Johnson Ford selected Upstart Auto Retail’s In-Store, Online and AI-Powered Financing products to build a connected auto retail platform across all four of its rooftops. After demoing the streamlined car buying experience for consumers and the enhanced deal process for sales, the Leif Johnson leadership team was impressed that a customer could start the application process online and complete the buying experience in-store.
On the financing side, Upstart’s AI-Powered Financing also improves the process by collecting the customers’ credit application and leveraging AI to approve more creditworthy car buyers, increasing vehicle sales. In addition, the solution streamlines approvals and deal closing – all with significantly less paperwork.
We’ve always been a tech-forward dealership with a goal of being as efficient as possible via a great tool and experience,” said Marri Stokes, Director of Operations at Leif Johnson Ford. “Data entry is the Achilles Heel for a lot of dealerships – one missing number can have ripple effects. Having a system that is accurate, saves time on data entry and integrates with all of our systems is huge.
saved per deal in showroom
Increase in CSI scores
“Just purchased our 11th new vehicle this past week and everything went like clockwork. With each vehicle we buy, the process gets easier and easier. The sales team did a great job communicating and gave us the best deal possible on a great vehicle.” – 5-star customer review
to onboard and train the sales team
Leif Johnson Ford first launched Online Retail, quickly followed by the In-Store solution, and was able to train sales teams at all four dealerships in one month. Their dedicated dealer success manager from Upstart trained their sales team on how to seamlessly transition car buyers from their online application to in-store, browse inventory and build deals from the convenience of an iPad. “We had a fantastic team who helped us get online with a detailed checklist,” said Stokes.
With Upstart Auto Retail, we can meet the customer wherever they are in the journey,” said Stokes. “Sales used to fill out 18 different paper forms - so as far as our management team being able to give customers the information they need, that part has really changed.
Reducing time per deal
Previously, buying a vehicle was a 4-hour process that required a lot of manual data entry by the sales team into disparate systems. With the car buyer submitting a digital form before coming into the store, Leif Johnson Ford has saved 1.5 hours per deal in the showroom.
Redefining the customer experience
Ultimately, Upstart has enabled the Leif Johnson Ford team to accommodate a wide range of customer types, including those who prefer to buy completely online, those who prefer to speak with a sales representative in person or a hybrid of both. “We realize that time is a commodity and we have to meet customers where they are,” explained Stokes.
Since implementing Upstart Auto Retail, Leif Johnson Ford has seen an increase in CSI scores, repeat customers and positive customer reviews. One 5-star review reads, “Just purchased our 11th new vehicle this past week and everything went like clockwork. With each vehicle we buy, the process gets easier and easier. The sales team did a great job communicating and gave us the best deal possible on a great vehicle.”
Looking forward, Stokes and the Leif Johnson team are building on the foundation for a completely seamless customer experience, with an end goal of working a deal in 30 minutes. “Dealership groups are moving to a seamless end-to-end experience across rooftops, and with one operating system. We hope to build that transparency and trust with our customers,” said Stokes.