Keep it Simple…and Smart!

There are a lot of expensive technology solutions out there that,you are constantly being told, can accomplish great things for your dealership. Almost everyday, there is a headline about the next great tech solution. But there are fewer headlines about how they often come with added costs, increased complexity, and, a ton offrustration for your staff– and nowhere is this more truethan in the automotive retail space, where vendors are constantly promising new and shiny tech solutions for your dealership.

Dealers are understandably wary and many have told me they won’t change the way they do a manual task until they find a tech-based solution that ticks three boxes: 1. speedsup the process, 2. makes staff more productive, and 3. improves profitability. Seems like a pretty good litmus test to me.

We have entered an era of tech complexity in automotive retailing that makes the early days of the Internet look like a walk in the park. Weare no longer talking about getting inventory online quicker or optimizing websites for mobile devices; instead, today’s tech conversations are rife withterms like artificial intelligence, machine learning, blockchain, data mining, digital retailing and more. It’s enough to make your head spin.

By keeping it simple, with those three boxes to tick, you can stay focused on using technology to improve existing processes, rather than reinventing a wheel that does not need reinventing. Here are three good examples:

  1. Digital Retailing: A recent study by our team at eLEND Solutions found a substantial amount of confusion over what digital retailing actually is – and what it accomplishes. Dealers were clear about its benefits – 70% said that the No. 1 benefit was shorter transaction times. However, they were less sure what digital retailing should accomplish: 19% defined the technology as something that lets customers start but not finish their deal online, while 10% said it was about facilitating the entire sales and F&I process online.

Ultimately, what digital retailing actually is – and what makes it potentially so effective is its true simplicity – it simply improves and gets an early start on the existing buying journey.Tear away the bells and whistles and fancy terms, and all you need to get started is an online credit app that offers instant credit decisions and a trade-in tool that offers instant values or purchase prices.  These simple to use – and easy to implement – technologies build trust and confidence, and make the showroom sales process easier and faster. Countless surveys and studies have found that customers value the concept of digital retailing because it starts the process online – where they are most comfortable – and speeds the in-dealership experience, making for a less anxious and friendlier environment. Simpleand effective.

  1. ID Verification: Smart ID verification is the epitome of technology improving the buying experience for your customers and your staff. It does (2) things very well: removes process bottlenecks and protects your dealership from ID and financial fraud.   DL technologies can authenticate the driver’s license is an official government issued document; validateimportant information fields  like name, address and DOB; and enrich the lead with a appended cell phone number.   The  purified information is then exported into your CRM – creating a more efficient in-store buying process and eliminating the information disconnects/gaps between Sales & Finance.

More advanced DL technologies can even convert the DL scan into a consumer consented pre-qualification with no SSN requirement – enabling a faster pre-qualification process, quickly and easily, at any point in your sales process.

A recent case studywith Huntington Beach CDJR found that 53% of customers who opted-in for pre-qualification via a driver’s license swipe prior to a test drive went on to buy a car from the dealership. Comparatively, just 34% of the customers that declined pre-qualification ended up buying at the store.

  1. F&I Aftermarket Sales:F&I product sales have become a more prominent part of revenue and profitability for most dealers. Smart dealers are applying every day technology to help bridge the distance between sales and finance – especially technologies that almost everyone knows how to use:  tablets, smartphones and touchscreens. Most of us consume content and interact via these devices all day long.Using these same technologies during the sales process will make customers comfortable and more engaged. Recent studies have found that consumers are interested in aftermarket products – as long as they’re introduced earlier in the process- and what better way than via a mobile device?

I’m not saying it’s not important to think about how future technology solutions will impact automotive retail: staying aware of changes and trends will help you plot the way forward in terms of profitability, hiring plans, and growth projections. However, just because there’s a shiny new gadget doesn’t necessarily mean that it will work effectively for retail operations. Technology is supposed to make things easier, not harder. A mantra we should all repeat more often!

Pete brings over 40+ years of experience in automotive finance and technology as Founder and CEO of eLEND Solutions™. Founded in 2003 as DealerCentric®, Pete is leading the company’s evolution to an automotive FinTech platform focused on deal generation solutions that power transactional digital buying experiences for the retail automotive industry.

The platform specializes in hybrid digital credit, identity, and finance solutions - designed to accelerate conversions of digital end-to-end purchase experiences - concluding with a transactional, fundable deal structure.

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