Dealers often gripe about automakers aiming to control too much of the retail process, with costly facility upgrade requirements, stair-step incentives and digital retailing programs.
But Cadillac's digital showroom, Cadillac Live, counters that frustration. It's a mutually beneficial example of an automaker and dealers working together to improve the car-shopping process.
Richard Gonzalez, general manager at Vera Cadillac near Miami, told me the tool makes his sales associates' jobs easier — and it's free for the dealership.
"We use it as a sales tool. We also use it for product knowledge for those higher-funnel customers who aren't ready to make a decision, who are in the research phase," he said. "It's a great tool for them to physically see the vehicle, do a tour, understand some of the features and benefits the vehicle has."
Customers can connect with Cadillac Live to ask a live agent product questions from the showroom. Dealers can send customers prerecorded vehicle walkarounds rather than film customized walkarounds each time a customer asks.
Even with the product help from Cadillac, Vera's pay plan doesn't change, Gonzalez said. Sales associates still make their regular commission. And the tool gives them more time to devote to other tasks, he said.
During the pandemic, "the amount of people that want to do 99 percent of their research online before they make a decision to come into a dealership or to actually finalize a purchase has multiplied by 10," he said.
Now, his team can send a customer walkaround links for any vehicles they might be interested in.
"Not having to physically go out and do that walkaround — it's a huge time saver," Gonzalez said. "It helps [sales associates] be more productive, and it helps them focus more on keeping up with their customers and making their calls."