Americans spend on average 75 hours waiting every year; whether at the DMV, doctors’ offices or in checkout lines. The last thing they want to do when buying a car is wait even more.
The solution to reducing customer wait times — and therefore improving the customer experience — is technology. The benefits of digitizing your sales and F&I process include: expedites the process, increases transparency, keeps the customer engaged and eliminates paper and printer headaches. Yet in the majority of dealerships, the process is still largely paper based. Dealers have been slow to adopt these solutions due to fear of change, high upfront costs and the amount of training required.
The advent of digital retailing will soon force dealers to change, whether they’re ready to or not. So why not be ready?
How to Streamline Your Process
The first and easiest step toward streamlining your sales process and making it more modern by “going digital” is evaluating how many steps there are.
In most dealerships, a customer has to deal with at least three people during the car-buying process. In some dealerships, that number can be as high as eight. Your first goal should be to reduce the number of employees involved to two or less. The sales consultant is the natural point person as they tend to know the customer the best and have the greatest opportunity to build rapport. I think anyone in the business will agree that a customer who trusts you and has a relationship with you will be more satisfied, which ultimately results in a better profit for the dealership, and more referrals.
Your second goal should be to reduce the amount of time it takes to buy a car. According to Autotrader.com, the average CSI score drops after a consumer spends longer than 90 minutes at the dealership. Therefore, aim for a purchase process that’s 90 minutes or less.
Technology is the obvious solution, but how do you know what you really need and which vendor is best for your dealership? To identify your technology needs, first ascertain which steps in your sales and F&I process are slowest. Aim to cut out all paper-based processes and duplicate data entry.
Typically, the tools needed to accomplish this include: mobile CRM to seamlessly transition customers from online to offline; mobile valuation tools so you can offer appraisals on the lot; digital F&I menu, look for a solution that has video presentations of products and allows the customer to take a survey while they’re waiting for the F&I manager; electronic signature capture with laser forms that can be electronically signed and stored with the deal; and digital deal jacket that compiles all signed forms into one file that can be emailed to the customer or given to them on a USB drive.
All of the above tools require mobile tablets, which are a great way to introduce new technology into the dealership since most employees are familiar with the technology.
The next step is to figure out how to source technology solutions that are reliable and adaptable to your dealership’s process.
The Role of the DMS
Before you sign any contracts with third-party vendors, contact your DMS, who might have the solution you’re looking for that might be accessible for no additional charge (or a small fee) right in your DMS. If your DMS vendor doesn’t have a solution or you don’t care for theirs, ask for a list of recommended third-party vendors that your DMS integrates with. Contact those vendors and ask for dealership referrals.
To keep your sales process streamlined, make sure that every technology solution you use is fully integrated with your DMS. Look for vendors who use push notification technology and update the DMS in real-time, which reduces duplicate entry and human error. Integrations also improve workflow. When third-party technology solutions are fully integrated into your DMS, all you have to do is log in and you’ll be able to access your CRM leads, desking tool, valuation tools, credit and compliance information.
Finally, once your new technologies and processes are in place, communicate the changes to all stakeholders. Train your employees, then train them some more. Keep evaluating your new tools and processes regularly to see what’s working and what isn’t. Consumer demand for transparency, convenience and technology is transforming the way that dealerships do business. To better meet today’s customers’ expectations, consider digitally transforming your sales and F&I process.