CommentaryApr 4th, 2018

Bolster Your Dealership's Digital Experience With Flexible F&I Solutions


As we all know, the world of retail is swiftly changing, and the vehicle F&I industry is not immune to the ongoing shift. Vast changes in technology have empowered more consumers than ever to begin the vehicle buying and financing process themselves, on their own devices and timeline.

Adapting to changing technology

Some people still prefer traditional tools, others opt for modern systems, and many are skilled at a combination of both. Even the conventional crowd is learning to adapt to new methods, however. The longer a technology is around, the more it becomes second nature, and part of the mainstream.

For example, it used to be that digitally signing your name on a point-of-sale terminal was considered high-tech, but now consumers are completely accustomed to a digital experience. Retail has evolved. We’ve gone from old carbon-copy credit card machines to swiping a magnetic strip, and then to the security of the chip and mobile payments with a digital wallet for contactless payment.

Some shoppers prefer to pick up their next outfit in-store, others online or from their phone. Many subscribe to services where they answer a few profile questions, then the company regularly sends multiple options that best fit their style, for them to choose from the convenience of their own home.

It can be a challenge to keep up with consumers’ expectations. Businesses succeed when they strive to provide a variety of digital retail options, giving consumers access to the current and future services they desire as technology and skill sets change.

Manage consumer expectations

To navigate the ebb and flow of the ever-changing landscape, you need connections that allow you to meet consumer expectations while customizing your parameters. Today, many buyers assume that the shopping experience will be relatively similar for all their purchases. Although it’s true that the vehicle-buying process differs somewhat from buying other retail products, the basic principles remain the same.

Consumers want to browse and research vehicles online. Many strive to conduct as much of the F&I process as possible on their time, and on their own devices. Build a digital experience that is flexible to current demands, with an eye toward changes up the road. Consider a seamless F&I system, where a consumer “just looking” at your website can potentially become a car buyer.

When you supply the desired tools, you can reach your own sales goals while elevating customer satisfaction levels. So, what’s the next “best feature” you should consider implementing into your strategy? Allow customers to enjoy the convenience of remote document delivery. This technology provides buyers with the opportunity to review the entire contract package at their own pace, from any location.

They can download, print, and retain customer copies that are in line with your compliance obligations. Customers appreciate having time to leisurely go through each line of an e-contract at their own pace, instead of feeling rushed and sometimes confused by an in-store F&I closing process. Not only can customers review documents, but you can take it a step further and provide them with the flexibility to electronically sign the financing contract package remotely.

The contract package can include ancillary documents, such as aftermarket contracts, and will provide the transparency they desire and the ability to sign exactly what they see. With a quick consent to e-sign, customers can apply an electronic signature by typing it in with a traditional keyboard or by signing with their finger on a touchscreen device.

Everybody wins

Once signed by your customer, the contract is immediately accessible in electronic form to you, the dealer. Your dealership applies the necessary signature(s) to the contract package, and a link to the final, fully executed contract package is emailed back to the buyer for their records. Now you just need to meet up for the buyer to take delivery of the vehicle. How’s that for an optimal digital experience for customers? But it’s not just the customer that saves time by reducing document-generation time and the in-store F&I closing process. Electronic distribution of your e-contract to your finance source will complete the fully electronic process, delivering an error-free contract, cutting your CITs, and saving you valuable cash flow.

Say hello to today

The future of vehicle retail is already here. The line between in-store and online is blurring these days, as an end-to-end digital experience is becoming standard. Stay true to your unique strategies, but use technology to ramp up your presence in the online retail world to attract customers that desire to choose their F&I process. You are still controlling the processes, but providing consumers the flexibility to pick their own path. It will make vehicle buying an enjoyable event they’ll want to tell all their friends about, and experience again.

Brad Rogers is the chief operating officer of RouteOne LLC, a joint venture between Ally Financial, Ford Motor Credit Company, TD Auto Finance, and Toyota Financial Services. He is responsible for managing all sales, customer strategy, integrations, and support services for the company.

Authored by

Brad Rogers

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