Tag Archive | "technology"

VisionMenu releases Remote F&I

FT WAYNE, Ind.- VisionMenu release Remote F&I- a remote Menu, Disclosure and Document signing web application that uses the vSignature technology, Patent-Pending, to control what a customer views on their smart phone and allows eSigning of any document.

The remote tool gives the finance person 100% control over what is displayed on the customer smart phone or tablet device no matter where the customer is located, such as the finance office or in the privacy of their own home.

“Remote F&I gives the F&I Manager a tool to sell more products to the online buyer, or any buyer that can’t make it into the dealership.” says Ron Martin, president of VisionMenu. “It also gives them a tool to e-Sign documents so the customer doesn’t have to come back to the dealership to resign forms. It can even serve as a tool to close a deal with the buyer at the dealership and the co-buyer at a remote location.”

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New VSC Portal Helps Monetize Lost VSC Leads

CHICAGO — ForeverCar, a digital vehicle service contract (VSC) technology provider, announced the launch of a dealer-branded VSC sales platform. It’s designed to help dealers sell protection products for older, higher mileage vehicles. The platform is also designed to help dealers recapture “lost” VSC opportunities from prior lead investments.

“ForeverCar is the first dealer-branded service contract portal that also uniquely remarkets service contracts to the tens of thousands of leads a dealer has in its database to help monetize some of the 70% of vehicle buyers who decline to purchase this coverage. That is an incredible amount of opportunity to recoup,” said Brooke Schulz Fernandez, the company’s vice president of business development.

The platform, according to the company, will help dealers drive service agreement sales, service department volume, and customer retention for franchised used-car departments that have limited offerings for buyers of older, higher mileage cars. It is also designed for independent dealers who don’t offer VSCs, as well as dealers who want to monetize prior investments in leads by offering them VSCs.

“Our platform helps dealers give customers more choices for protecting their vehicle investment, and it drives service department visits to build service sales and long-term retention,” Fernandez said. “We designed this tool to deliver solutions dealers indicated were missing from their current VSC sales practices.”

The company plans to present its product at the upcoming 2017 NADA Expo and Convention in Conference Room No. 103.

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Trust in Salespeople Top Painpoint for Consumers, DealerSocket Reports

SAN CLEMENTE, Calif. — Cutting transaction times was the No. 1 focus for franchised dealers in 2016, but it wasn’t the top painpoint for car buyers, according to DealerSocket’s 2016 Dealership Action Report.

The 32-page report contains answers from more than 2,000 U.S. and Canadian customers, as well as responses from more than 10,000 dealerships utilizing the firm’s software solutions. It revealed a disconnect between what consumers say is the problem and what franchised dealers perceive as the main issue that troubles the car-buying experience.

“Why does this matter? The more a dealer understands consumer perceptions, the more he or she can train staff to prepare for their customers’ biases,” the report states. “Taking a closer look at the ‘why’ of consumer perception should shape dealer strategies and processes.”

DealerSocket partnered with Google on the consumer portion of the report. For dealer responses, the company not only pulled product information from its own platform, but also collaborated with J.D. Power and its Power Information Network to compile the data for its report.

When asked whether they enjoyed the car-buying process, 81% of consumers polled answered “No.” While the percentages weren’t exactly the same, dealers correctly assumed that the majority of consumers would answer “No.” Collectively, dealer respondents assumed 32% of consumers would respond “yes” to the question, while 68% assumed they would say “no.”

Of the consumer who answered “No,” 85% were between the age of 45 and 54 years old. Eighty-five percent of consumers who said “No” were also female, and 82% of them had an annual income of between $25,000 and $50,000. Of the 19% of consumers who indicated that they enjoyed the car-buying process, 29% were millennials (18-24), 24% were male, and 32% had an annual income greater than $150,000.

As for what they don’t like about the car-buying process, the top response among consmers polled was “Don’t trust salespeople” at 29%. “Too time consuming” came in second at 19%. When asked how they believed consumers would answer, 32% of dealers assumed “Too time consuing” would be the top complaint, while 16% believed “Don’t trust salespeople” would be the top answer.

“Surprisingly, consumers cite lack of trust in salespeople as their No. 1 reason by a large margin. The amount of time the car-buying process takes is also a concern for consumers but it is not rated as dealers’ No. 1 area for improvement,” the report states.

This mistrust in the dealership experience also extended to the financing aspect of car-buying process. When consumers were asked where they preferred to secure their financing, 52% said they preferred to seek an outside source. The majority (49%) cited loyalty to their bank as the main reason for this, however, the second-largest group (36%) of respondents cited mistrust in the dealership as the main reason they look outside the dealership for financing.

According to data from J.D. Power, one approach dealers can take to gain consumer trust and improve CSI is incorporating more technology into the process.

On a scale from one to 10, negotiation figures displayed on a tablet device scored the highest when compared to verbal quotes and handwritten figures, according to the report. On this scale, a seven was considered “outstanding” and a 10 was “truly exceptional.” Handwritten figures scored a 6.92, verbal quotes scored a 7.08 and tablet devices scored an 8.12, according to J.D. Power.

“Interestingly, although it seems obvious that the use of mobile technology should be common practice in the business to consumer world, our data suggests that the majority of dealership users still complete tasks via desktop,” the report read. “Mobile technology promotes transparency. As mobile solutions are utilized more during the sales process, consumer trust increases.

For more finding or to view the full report, click here.

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Mechanical Breakdown Protection, Inc. Partners with F&I Express

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo.  Mechanical Breakdown Protection, Inc. (MBPI), a top rated administrator, is pleased to announce a partnership with F&I Express. This innovative technology cuts costs, increases efficiency, and adds a new element of customer satisfaction. This partnership will help the F&I office increase sales penetration and improve dealer and customer satisfaction by decreasing customer delivery time.

“MBPI’s new partnership with F&I Express will allow dealerships a new and effective way to offer our wide range of F&I products to the consumer. It will also eliminate the need for double entry, which makes life easier for F&I Managers.” – Barry Kindler, MBPI National Sales Manager

To learn more about MBPI, visit the website at mbpnetwork.com.

To learn more about F&I Express, visit the website at fandiexpress.com.

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Did We Get It Right?

Let’s just jump right into this subject of technology. We can have discussions from here to eternity about new solutions that provide real-time reports covering everything from product production to F&I performance and other items in between, but at the forefront of what is most important and being used by the retail industry daily is of course some type of “menu”. There are so many different products available to F&I today that delivering an effective and consistent presentation to the retail customer is not realistic without a menu. But the paper menu appears to have had its day, and the tablet-based F&I presentation is gaining steam — much to the chagrin, it is assumed, of older car buyers.

Let’s discuss the reasoning behind these developments and why process will always be more important than the customer’s age.

Equal Opportunity Sales

There are many reputable menu providers, all of whom say they have the best product for today’s consumer. Additionally, many offer some type of menu usage report functionality, and some even offer F&I production information. The big elephant in the room is a question no one asks of you, the providers. Let’s hold that thought for a moment but I promise we’ll get to what I think is that “real” question that needs to be asked.

Let’s step back for a moment and look at the market. Today’s market is composed of many different “generations” of buyers. Arguably that has always been the case, but not during the technology boom we have seen in the last decade. We can start from the baby boomers and earlier all the way through the Millennials, with Generation X in between and Generation Y just now making their presence felt.

As buying power shifts from generation to generation, technology is developing and improving at an astounding rate. While we strive to make technology based product enhancements targeting the “current” generation, we chance leaving other generations out of the mix, so to speak. Do we ever ask ourselves if what we are developing will be well received by members of other generations that still make automobile purchases every day?

That brings us back to the “elephant in the room” question: How do you know you got it right?

Amazingly, the automobile industry still fails to do some of the most fundamental research into what the consumer does or doesn’t like or want. An example would be recently at the 2016 Agent Summit in Las Vegas, I asked a simple question of the esteemed technology panel; “has anyone ever held a focus group of consumers comprised of different generations, demonstrating what menu proposals were available and getting the invaluable consumer feedback that should drive the product?”

The panel looked like a herd of deer in the proverbial headlights. One panelist answered by saying his product is driven by the great results being realized by his dealer clients. Somewhat acceptable, but is that really the reason for any positive change in results? ’Did we have a change of F&I manager(s) that are now, but previously weren’t, fully utilizing the product’s capability? Did the dealer or general manager finally put their foot down and tell the finance department that their numbers were unacceptable, and based on the menu usage report functionality, told they either start using the tools available, get the numbers up or be replaced?

Do we fail the customer by continuing to make changes to a product as important as a menu based not on their feedback or input but on what we think the customer would like to see. I liken it to being self-employed: With no external pushback, we become legends in our own minds. Let’s face it, 20 Groups were developed not just to share some dinner, drinks and good laughs, but to share best practices. They allow dealers to get out of their comfort zones and get feedback and challenges from peers.

With that in mind, let’s discuss how each of today’s in-market generations respond to technology in the F&I office:

  • Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers represent about a third of the population, but they outspend younger adults by about $1 trillion. Boomers are not going quietly into the sunset. Additionally, study after study proves that, contrary to many public and media perceptions, Baby Boomers have a real interest in the continuing adoption of technology.

Michael Rogers, an author, futurist, consultant and former vice president of The Washington Post’s media division, led a series of focus group discussions. He concluded that Boomers will be a driving force behind the use of information technology in the next decade, particularly in the healthcare industry, one of the largest in our society. He commented further, that Boomers don’t want technology products that are complicated and cluttered with excessive features.

  • Generation X and Millennials: According to Forrester Research, Gen Xers mainly use technology for convenience purposes, such as online banking and shopping. Technology has yet to become central to their social lives, and this will likely remain the case.

Millennials, however, view technology as a critical part of their life and work. They are constantly “on” and connected. They tend to embrace new technologies for socializing and working, and they adapt quickly.

The Industry’s Next Move

More and more menu providers are now working diligently on developing a tablet version of what has typically been a desktop-only product. That leads to questions, the most important of which is; will there be “two-way” DMS integration.

Let’s be honest: It’s a challenge to get F&I pros to enter the data correctly the first time, let alone the second and third times. The need to re-enter some deal information when additional F&I products are sold highlights the importance of two-way DMS integration from any menu. It is often said that they don’t have time to do it right, but they do have time to do it over and over again.

The introduction of the tablet brings additional questions. How interactive should it be? Is the screen size too small? Do we still need the F&I manager, or do we let the tablet do the presentation? Do we hand it to the customer prior to their meeting with their F&I manager?

Every provider has a different spin on why there should or shouldn’t be some type of tablet presentation available. Some even argue that providers who are against the use of this tool are against it only because they have not yet developed a tablet solution of their own. It’s an interesting perspective and possibly true in some cases.

Some might say we need tablets to engage Millennials, who are comfortable with handheld devices. Others will say tablets scare Baby Boomers away. Still others will say the tablet robs F&I pros of the ability to customize the presentation.

I believe the answer is a lot simpler than we think. For decades, our industry has struggled to find the right solution to many issues that didn’t exist as recently as the early ’90s. There was a time when discussing the business model of selling vehicles through the Internet did nothing but get you thrown out of the dealer’s office.

Ask any dealer today how much income they would lose if they shut down their website. We can no longer dismiss new technology by saying, “This is the car business. We don’t do that.” Bull! By refusing to adapt, we become our own worst enemies. Basically, that comment says the courage to move through uncharted territory has no place in the industry. Really? We are smarter than that, and we can do much better.

It’s time to shelve our egos and stop pretending we know it all. Let’s dare to do something that this industry seems to never or at best rarely do: Ask the consumer! Imagine what would happen if we developed products and processes based on what the consumer is actually looking for, not what we think they are looking for.

To all the reputable providers out there, I say let’s finally start organizing some legitimate, credible consumer focus groups that will help us develop products and processes that will drive higher CSI scores and contribute to a process that leaves the dealer and the customer happy and satisfied.

For the purposes of this particular article, I lay out this challenge to all the outstanding menu providers: Imagine being first to market with a product that you can tell a dealer client was vetted by several consumer focus groups and developed accordingly. What a concept!

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Mercedes-Benz Captive Now Available on AutoGravity’s Auto Financing App

IRVINE, Calif. — AutoGravity has added Mercedes-Benz Financial Services to its auto financing app, which allows car buyers to search for loan and lease options based on the vehicle they want.

The partnership gives AutoGravity users access to Mercedes-Benz Financial Services when purchasing a Mercedes-Benz or smart vehicles. The captive is already integrated into the public beta release of AutoGravity’s platform, which is available as an iOS app, Android app and mobile-responsive web app, according to the company.

“Our partnership with AutoGravity is valuable, because it enhances our positioning among the growing number of digital savvy consumers who rely on smartphone technology when making purchasing decisions,” said Peter Zieringer, president and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

The AutoGravity app is designed to allow car buyers to choose any new car make, model and trim, browse nearby dealerships that sell that car, apply for financing online in three steps, and then select from up to four resulting financing offers. Customers are then able to take their selected offer to the dealership and complete the lease or purchasing process.

“AutoGravity was created to empower car buyers through their smartphones and give them access to a wide selection of auto finance options from the palm of their hands,” said Andy Hinrichs, founder and CEO of AutoGravity. “The partnership with Mercedes-Benz Financial Services provides choice for our users and gives Mercedes-Benz access to a broader pool of new and existing digitally savvy customers. This is a prime example of how the AutoGravity platform benefits consumers, dealerships and lenders.”

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