AI-Powered Platform Aims to Boost Dealerships’ Service Department Profits

“Think of Numa as a kind of AI agent that is helping people in the service department,” Numa CEO and co-founder Tasso Roumeliotis tells WardsAuto.

Alysha Webb, Contributor

June 13, 2024

4 Min Read
Numa is designed to provide a holistic view of a customer’s service experience.Getty Images

The service department is a dealership’s most important source of profits. Missed service calls and poor communication between both the dealership and the customer and between different areas of the service department can cut into those profits.

Numa, a San Francisco Bay Area startup, offers a communication platform that centralizes communication, thereby increasing efficiency, improving customer service and growing dealership service profits.

“Think of Numa as a kind of AI agent that is helping people in the service department,” Numa CEO and co-founder Tasso Roumeliotis tells WardsAuto.

The Center of Communication

What makes Numa stand out from other artificial intelligence software aimed at the service department is Numa’s holistic view of a customer’s service experience, he says.

Some 19 different people at a dealership interact with a customer, from the first contact to bringing the vehicle in and having it serviced, Roumeliotis says.

“All are trying to coordinate with the customer,” he says. “The coordination was a challenge, AI and communication are the core of where we are at. We are the center of communication.”

Numa starts by picking up any missed service calls and assessing why a customer is calling. If the customer wants to speak to a service advisor, Numa routes the call. If the call is to make an appointment, Numa can do that.

It integrates with all major DMS (Dealer Management Systems) and will recognize if a customer has been at the service department before. So, if a customer liked a specific service advisor, Numa can assign that advisor to the customer again. It can also suggest to the service advisor upselling possibilities for that customer.

Numa also speeds up communication within the service department, Roumeliotis says. For example, if a service advisor needs to know the status of a back-ordered part, rather than “running around trying to figure out where the part is,” the service advisor can send a message on Numa to the parts department asking for the part’s status.

Roumeliotis compares Numa to a WhatsApp that is visible to everyone in the dealership. All of the communication occurs within one platform. And Numa keeps a record of it all.

“What makes Numa very different is, all that interaction you had with a customer is all captured, recorded and dropped into core Numa, which is a core messaging product that everyone in the dealership can see,” he says.

So, when the service advisor inquires about the back-ordered part, for example, the entire service department can see that request. The parts person is now “on the clock,” Roumeliotis says. Because the fixed ops director can track how long it takes the parts department to reply, Numa “drives huge accountability,” he says.

Dealerships Discovered Numa

Roumeliotis says Numa was created to help small businesses perform a variety of small tasks that are hard and/or labor intensive. It didn’t specifically target dealerships.

“We discovered by accident that the biggest users of the Numa product were the car dealerships that we had never spent one marketing dollar to reach out to,” he says.

Furthermore, dealerships were using Numa in ways that were “very unique and innovative to us,” Roumeliotis says.

He realized the retail automotive industry was very forward-thinking in using technology to improve the customer experience. “Then we went all in on dealerships,” Roumeliotis says.

The first dealership began using Numa two and a half years ago, and Numa’s overall business is growing by over 100% annually, he says.

Between 300 and 600 dealerships are now using Numa, Roumeliotis says. He declines to be more specific, saying the exact number is confidential.

A testimonial from Team Gillman Auto Group, a Houston-based Numa customer, recounts how the group uses Numa to automatically send a text message if a customer calls and hangs up. If the customer doesn’t respond to the text, Numa follows up with an AI-assisted call.

Gillman says that of the 1,023 return calls needed, the dealership was able to contact 55.03% using Numa, and of those, 190 made service appointments.

Another customer, Tacoma Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in Tacoma, WA, finds Numa’s DMS integration eliminated the lag time in retrieving customer information it faced with another texting product, which slowed service department response time.

Beyond the Service Department

For now, Numa will stay focused on the service department. The aim is to allow service advisors to have more time to upsell customers, thus increasing the amount of each repair order, Roumeliotis says.

“Our product philosophy is, we focus on a segment and want to provide the most exceptional product for that area. For now, we are in the service department. It is the profit center,” he says.

The goal: “We would like a service advisor to be able to handle 25 customers a day rather than 10,’ Roumeliotis says.

Numa will come to other areas of dealership operations, though. AI uses machine learning to evolve, and the more dealership information Numa consumes “the more we learn about how a dealership works,” Roumeliotis says.

About the Author(s)

Alysha Webb

Contributor

Based in Los Angeles, Alysha Webb has written about myriad aspects of the automotive industry for more than than two decades, including automotive retail, manufacturing, suppliers, and electric vehicles. She began her automotive journalism career in China and wrote reports for Wards Intelligence on China's electric vehicle future and China's autonomous vehicle future. 

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