Is Your F&I Department Overrun by Tech Zombies?
Don’t let zombie technology, a bad strategy, and the wrong partners limit your F&I growth
It was reported late last year that vinyl records outsold digital downloads for the first time in some markets. Does this mean old technology is making a comeback?
Two things accounted for this anomaly: (1) consumers of music wanted something more tangible, experiential, and personal than the usual downloading experience, and (2) the technology to produce vinyl records improved, and they became cheaper to make.
Will the same be said for CRT monitors? Or flip phones? Although some old technology continues to have nostalgic appeal to certain people, the rest of the world will adapt or risk obsolescence.
Sorry to be so blunt, but this is the reality humans have faced throughout time. Although there are “techies” who camp out overnight outside an Apple Store or Best Buy to be first to buy the latest gadget, most people don’t embrace technological change with much enthusiasm.
Most of us aren’t interested in, or have time for, such changes as do those who live for upgrades. Frankly, many people even resent the fact that they constantly have to change technologies.
If we don’t improve our technology, however, what we have now will inevitably become outmoded . . . and it will die.
To make matters worse, the time between versions and updates is getting shorter and shorter. In 1965, technology pioneer and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore developed what would become known as Moore’s Law. This principle explains how computer processing speed doubles every 18 months. Some say the next few years of technology innovation will move faster than that of the past 100 years.
Given this ever-increasing tech evolution, the demand to upgrade to the latest technology is not slowing down. The very software version, device, and system you are using to read this article will soon be rendered obsolete.
This begs an important and painful question: Will you and your technology keep pace, or be left for dead?
For the modern dealership, evidence of Moore’s Law is everywhere. Digital technology drives innovative ideas about how consumers shop at your dealership—and how you relate, interact, market, and sell to retain their business.
Long before customers set foot in your dealership, 70% have spent an average of 12 hours on mobile devices and computers researching vehicles, comparing prices, and learning about you. By the time they reach a live person at your dealership, they have already formed an opinion of your virtual customer service by how you treat them digitally.
Your technological processes and presentation are inextricably linked to your identity, brand, and the customer’s impression.
How is your dealership’s technical presence adapting to the times? Are prospects, buyers, service customers, and online shoppers meeting tech zombies when they engage with your store and its processes?
Perhaps you’re uncertain about how to evolve your dealership and your F&I to keep up with customer and OEM demands—or you’ve tried but are having mixed results because you have no solid strategy.
Alternatively, as is often the case, your various systems and technologies don’t work well together.
For instance, manual processes may require double data entry, which frustrates users. Paper-intensive processes are viewed by your customers as old-school, and less trustworthy than digital alternatives.
Because of evolving technology, the future of F&I is unfolding before us. Your choice is to:
- Adapt and migrate to universal functionality with new methods of interactivity; or
- Continue painfully cobbling together your processes and risking the rejection of tomorrow’s F&I customers, whose lifestyles are immersed in digital everything.
- To adapt—to flow fresh blood and life into the processes you use to do business today—requires not only a technology solution you can trust to solve your problems, but also a system supported by world-class expertise in F&I process, customer-behavior trends, and F&I platform science.
Such a provider will bring you global insight, the right resources, and the will to synthesize technologies into exciting new F&I tools.
So, perhaps the real question about technological adaptation is whether you must adapt on your own.
The answer is “no” if you have a partner provider with the mentality of that techie wanting to be first with the latest gadget. This partner will obsess over, invest in, and pioneer technological wonders on your behalf, helping define the future of F&I and automotive retail, and the technology needed to succeed in it.
Function over form
It will take more than a gadget or sleek design for new F&I solutions to help you keep your dealership on top. They must also meet your customer’s “techpectations”—to ensure they work with your business systems and processes—and seamlessly educate your team through the learning curve.
Form is nice, but with function so critical to system performance, usability, uptime, and convenience, your dealership deserves access to a technology partner that also demonstrates farsighted strategic planning: a wide-awake tech junkie who can also be your advisor, advocate, and ally.
These F&I solutions, which embrace gamification and technology, transform complex workflows, business data, and personal customer input into a visually clean and user-friendly process.
This metamorphosis occurs through the sophisticated-yet-easy-to-use presentation of graphics, sounds, movement, and imagery, which breaks down processes into bite-size portions digestible for the consumer.
To accomplish all this, partner with an organization with a track record of innovation, the will to invest, and a plan to utilize technology to drive profits, then make sure your dealership, its systems, and its staff are upgrading, adapting, and thriving, no matter what the change.
Don’t let zombie technology, a bad strategy, and the wrong partners limit your F&I growth.
Jim Maxim, Jr. is president of MaximTrak, a RouteOne company, and chief digital officer for RouteOne, a provider of digital F&I platforms for dealers. He is an F&I visionary recognized by CIO Review magazine, a frequent panelist and speaker at various F&I conferences and summits, and a contributor to automotive retail media about evolving F&I technologies. Reach him at email@example.com.