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Texas Car Dealer Embraces Cultural Shift

Dealerships that want to make inroads with Spanish-speaking buyers need to ensure digital, in-person and printed information is accurate and straightforward.

Customer experience is a key determinant of which auto dealership consumers prefer to do business with. That starts with their online research.

The Cavender Auto Family in San Antonio, TX, is looking to make the vehicle listings on its dealership websites a better experience for its Spanish-speaking customers by providing those listings in their language. That is an essential step to winning customer loyalty, though the effort must extend beyond the website, say advertising experts.

“We are looking at being able to capture all of San Antonio from a marketing standpoint,” Colby Joyner, vice president of marketing and strategy for the Cavender group, tells Wards. “We wanted to make sure everyone had the ability to look at our websites.”

While Cavender has Spanish-speaking employees, if someone called in wanting vehicle information, the process was clunky, he says, including finding someone who could accurately convey the vehicle information.

It worked with Carfluent to translate all the vehicle listings on its websites into Spanish. Those went live on Oct. 10, when Cavender launched newly designed websites for all its dealerships.  

Cavender has eight rooftops in the San Antonio area with franchises including Cadillac, Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan, Buick, GMC, Land Rover and Jaguar.

Carfluent uses AI-driven software to create bilingual listings for dealerships. Carfluent trains the AI with manufacturer-specific terms rather than just automotive-specific terms, Carfluent co-founder and chief experience officer Justin Neiser tells Wards.

While there have been reports of other AI products’ translations making embarrassing or inaccurate gaffes, Carfluent is confident about its software.

“The more we feed it, the more it learns,” says Neiser. “We aren’t that worried it could go astray.”

Carfluent started building its platform in late 2021 after it found “a clear want from the dealer community to do a better job of marketing to the (Spanish-speaking) community,” co-founder and CEO Chance Mayfield tells Wards.

Existing translation software wasn’t accurate, and hiring more Spanish-speaking staff wasn’t scalable, he says. Meanwhile, he says all the vehicle data – the stuff people look for in the listings – was completely automated. That means it was suitable for using AI.

Earning Hispanic Customers’ Loyalty

San Antonio’s population is 66% Hispanic, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And while many of those citizens speak English as a first language, making an effort to have Spanish-language information still resonates with them, says J. Issac Morales, president and CEO of Inspire Agency, a Dallas-based firm specializing in marketing to Hispanic consumers.

He points to studies showing that 90% of Hispanic consumers believe it is “extremely or very important” in their purchase if the brand “communicates in both Spanish and English.”

For Morales, though English is his first language, “If I see things in Spanish, it raises my interest.”

Cavender marketing VP Joyner has worked at other companies that market to Hispanics, and “I know their ability to champion a business within their community,” he says.

Given the size of its Hispanic customer base, Cavender isn’t tiptoeing into this Spanish-language marketing effort, says Joyner. It is spending the same amount marketing to Spanish-speaking consumers that it spends on English-language advertising, he says.

“We didn’t want to go into the initiative without doing it properly,” says Joyner. “For the next three months, we have a very healthy budget (for) Spanish-driven advertising. We are doing our due diligence.”  

The digital marketing effort is “justifiable, and it is measurable,” says Morales, but Cavender’s outreach to Hispanic consumers can’t stop there.  

Many dealerships see the importance of marketing to the Hispanic community, he says, but accurate translation is the most essential service a dealership can provide.

The idea of Hispanic culture goes beyond language, says Morales. Dealerships also need to show how a vehicle fits into the Hispanic lifestyle.

“The dealer experience is everything,” says Morales. “Culture is another form of fluency that doesn’t always get understood by some.”  




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