The number of potential buyers simply walking through the showroom doors already was declining even before the coronavirus pandemic arrived. Now dealers are using as many tools as possible — especially technology-powered solutions — to keep their retail operations going.

“We find that when we jump in and chat with our guests online, the rapport we build helps us increase our chances of selling them a vehicle,” said Rick Campbell of the Vann York Auto Group in a news release about Gubagoo’s Virtual Retailing, which allows dealers to sell vehicles online, and Gubagoo’s ChatSmart, which facilitates conversations with customers on dealers’ websites.

“Without automation, we would never have been able to maintain or exceed our pre COVID-19 performance,” said Matthew Muhlenkort, SEM analyst for the Walser Automotive Group in another news release about Acquire, a complete marketing automation platform designed for dealers offered by AutoLeadStar.

Gubagoo published data on Tuesday showing the continued increase of online retail and messaging tools, even as some dealerships return to full operations.

While the use of digital tools during widespread closures increased dramatically, Gubagoo insisted that more notable is that the use of these tools continues to increase, even as some communities across the country re-open.

In the past four weeks, Gubagoo said Virtual Retailing use has increased by 39% nationwide, and messaging has increased an additional 17% from the historic levels seen during the height of the pandemic.

“As progressive dealers have adopted Virtual Retailing, customers are showing the automotive community that it is the experience they have always wanted,” Gubagoo chief executive officer Brad Title said. “When we actively engage and serve the customer online, they are far more likely to purchase from the dealership.”

Dealers who staff their online showrooms, even as they bring staff back into their physical showrooms, are seeing strong results with online sales.

Tommy Coppola, general manager at Advantage Toyota Valley Stream in New York, did just that when he implemented Gubagoo’s Virtual Retailing.

“Customers are really engaged with us on the Virtual Retailing platform,” Coppola said. “It is simple for them to use, and we can seamlessly desk a deal in real time. We love it, our customers love it, and it is accelerating our sales as business opens up.”

Eastern Shore Toyota, located in Daphne, Ala., switched to Gubagoo from a digital retailing vendor that did not integrate customer messaging, making the change right as the pandemic was closing down operations. The store now is having tremendous success with online sales, according to Gubagoo.

“We have been absolutely delighted with our switch to Gubagoo as our digital retailing platform,” said Emily Brock, internet manager for Eastern Shore Toyota. “Our sales opportunities increased five times. More than 100 vehicles were sold online in 30 days.”

Gubagoo emphasized that it strives to provide unprecedented levels of support to assist dealers onboarding with Virtual Retailing, and to prepare for what lies ahead, whether that be the “new normal,” or a continuation of what automotive dealers are facing today.

“The full resources of our company are behind helping dealers navigate the months ahead,” Title said. “While we may be facing uncertainty, automotive dealers are resilient, and we look forward to continuing to play an important part in keeping the industry selling cars.”

To take advantage of a 60-day trial of Virtual Retailing, dealer representatives can contact the Gubagoo team by chat at, by phone at (833) 482-2466 or by email at

Success enjoyed by Walser Automotive Group

COVID-19 forced Walser Automotive Group to pivot quickly. Its stores got assistance in the process from AutoLeadStar.

The firm that provides a complete marketing automation platform designed for dealers recently announced its automated paid ads solution, Acquire, helped Walser Automotive Group by identifying and targeting the right buyers during the pandemic, significantly decreasing their cost per lead and increasing leads by 33%.

When Walser first implemented Acquire in February, the automated system allotted 12% of the group’s ad spend to social media. However, as the market drastically changed due to COVID-19 and the government lockdown, AutoLeadStar noted that people began spending more time on social platforms.

Recognizing this shift, Acquire used machine learning to instantly identify, target and reassess where in-market buyers were spending their time and increased the ad budget across social channels to 26% in April and May. As a result, the auto group’s cost per lead decreased from more than $50 in February and March to $36 in April and May, while simultaneously bringing down the group’s costs per click.

“AutoLeadStar has given us the opportunity to react fast and deploy campaigns instantly. A team of 10 people couldn’t do what Acquire can do in seconds,” said Matthew Muhlenkort, SEM analyst of Walser Automotive Group.

Acquire, powered by artificial intelligence, leverages thousands of data points to strategically place ads on search engines, social media, and internet websites.

Dealerships can set an overall budget for Acquire, and the machine will decide where to allocate the budget based on performance and audience optimization. This capability can give Acquire the flexibility of pushing budget changes to search, display, and social in real time.

“Throughout the government lock-down, Acquire was able to automatically shift and allocate Walser Automotive’s ad budget to where it would be most effective,” AutoLeadStar chief executive officer Aharon Horwitz said.

“As we move into the next half of 2020, our team is predicting a dramatic restart for automotive and progressive groups like Walser will be the clear-cut winners as they invest in technology rather than traditional account services,” Horwitz added.

To download the Walser success story, visit For additional information on AutoLeadStar’s solution Acquire, and its other AI solutions for the automotive industry, visit