SKAIVISION (SKAI) is the first off-the-shelf, artificial intelligence (AI) critical-alert mechanism designed to integrate with existing security camera systems in retail automotive dealerships.

Currently, camera systems in auto dealerships are reactive, meaning the video footage is viewed only if something goes wrong, such as theft or a customer complaint. For example, a service manager might look at video footage if a customer accuses the dealership of damaging their car while it was in for service.

This type of usage is passive and only tells what happened after the fact. As a result, the camera system is a dead operational expense.

However, with AI integration and alerts, the camera system is instantly transformed into a proactive system that can help dealer principals and managers improve operational efficiencies and keep the dealership secure.

At its base level, SKAI’s primary function is to help auto dealers achieve two overarching goals that are universally agreed upon as being unusually challenging and difficult. The first is to reduce the time it takes for a customer to purchase a vehicle or to take delivery if most purchasing is done online. The second is to reduce the time of service processes.

Let’s dive deeper into how SKAI helps improve these processes.

The Holy Grail of Sales: A One-Hour Purchase Process

According to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study, the average time it takes to purchase a vehicle (in a dealership) is 3.6 hours. Manufacturers, dealers, and consumers alike would all love to get to a one-hour purchase process. However, this is a rare accomplishment in the dealer world. More often than not, it is still a four- to five-hour marathon.

The one-hour process is tough to attain because there is a complex process map that goes into buying a vehicle. Depending on the dealership, it can take from six to twelve steps. With several different departments involved, there is no way for dealers to know at any given time which part of the process is bottlenecked. If you can’t identify the bottlenecks in real time, it is even more challenging to identify a pattern occurring in any one step or series of steps.

So, one big overarching goal of SKAI is to speed up the time to buy a vehicle by spotlighting each step within the process map to determine the most efficient way for dealerships to accomplish their goals.

SKAI can be configured to identify the bottlenecks in your dealership’s individual process steps. How quickly do you want a customer greeted? SKAI knows and will send out an alert if that time is exceeded. How soon after the test drive were the figures presented? SKAI knows and will send out an alert if it wasn’t done in a timely manner. Did a manager explain the figures to the customer? You know the drill.

Receiving alerts in real-time allows dealers to become aware of where key processes are breaking down and to intervene if necessary.

Like a Smooth, Well-Oiled Machine: Speeding Up Service

Most dealers’ second major goal is to speed up the service process. From oil changes to rebuilding transmissions, every extra minute on a job adds up quickly, which can reduce the volume of vehicles your dealership can service.

This is especially true in the Express lane. To compete with independent service centers, many dealerships advertise an “instant oil change.” But in most dealerships, an oil change with a customer waiting still takes 60 to 70 minutes, far exceeding the 30 minutes a customer expects.

SKAI views all your service processes in a non-judgmental way. Has a customer waited longer than one hour to change their oil? SKAI will send out an alert. How long does it take to get a vehicle from the service lane to the rack? SKAI will send out an alert if it takes longer than expected. Are your techs getting delayed at the parts counter? You’ll know where and when process breakdowns occur.

Can You Get this Information Elsewhere?

Today’s auto dealer relies on an average of 14 high-tech systems to run their dealerships. This includes the DMS, CRM, used car appraisal system, data mining system, lease renewal system, service scheduler, service marketing system, service lane tablet system, MPI system, text system, call tracking system, etc.

As a result, employees are suffering from a high degree of tech fatigue, and it’s easy to see why. They are expected to enter copious amounts of data into these systems every hour of every day while still getting their work done.

Assuming that your employees enter all the data they are supposed to, your managers can view reports in hindsight to identify problem areas and opportunities. But how sure are you that all the data entered into your systems is correct? Just like employees will tell you what you want to hear, they will enter some data accurately. Still, they might selectively enter only favorable data for any number of reasons—particularly if your pay plan aligns with the data you’re asking them to enter.

This can cause problems when trying to analyze process efficiency with reports. If the data is not complete or accurate, what good are the reports?

While SKAI is not designed to replace the high-tech systems in your dealership, it can help to:

1. Illuminate where processes are breaking down in real-time
2. Mitigate some of the more mundane data-entry requirements for employees

SKAI is also designed to monitor critical metrics that don’t exist in your current systems, such as the time to greet a customer or whether a service advisor measured all four tires at check-in.

It is important to note that SKAI monitors undesirable activities and can also alert when desirable outcomes have been achieved without the typical cost of requiring manual entry and process change adoption of employees.

Was it Service Advisor Jones behind the high volume of tire sales last week because he has been taking care to take tire measurements with customers present? Was it Sales Manager Smith behind the high volume of sales yesterday because she proactively stepped into the Sales process to drive the deal to close? Receiving alerts when employees do good allows managers to immediately respond and attribute success to appropriate employees, and to identify talent for future management.