Since 2013, eLEND Solutions’ annual survey has examined the disconnect between actual start-to-finish purchase transaction times and what dealers believe is the “ideal” time consumers should spend in a dealership buying a car.
This year, the disconnect has diminished somewhat versus the previous year, with transaction times showing a marked improvement. But most dealers are still not hitting their desired mark: 80% feel that two hours or less is the ideal time, but only 42% of them are achieving that.
Almost any discussion of the efficacy of new “shiny object” vendor technology opens up the question of whether it will shorten transaction times.
Therefore, we decided to extend our dealer survey to take a look at a technology that is hardly shiny and new at this point—but that has been massively adopted by consumers—to find out if dealers are as comfortable adopting it in their dealerships as they are at home or on the road: mobile devices and tablets.
We surveyed dealers nationwide at the end of 2016, and discovered that there is some promising mobile adoption (and intent to adopt) in dealerships, but also some major resistance.
Although a majority of the dealers surveyed believe mobile devices and tablets can speed up the transaction process, 60% of dealers not already using mobile tablets say they will not even consider adopting them in their dealerships.
Why? “Cost”’ is the No. 1 reason, followed by “staff/management resistance to change” and “undefined ROI.” Other reasons given: “sales team turnover” and “can’t see the benefits.” These reasons intrigued us.
First, regarding cost: Although the average tablet costs about $400, the time saved by shaving just one hour from the sales/transaction process could easily create greater sales productivity and additional vehicle sales, translating into cost benefits that could likely pay for a tablet in a day.
Next, regarding resistance to change: We understand this is typical for new technology, but odds are that most dealership staff members, even if they don’t own a tablet, have used these devices and/or have kids who use them. Also, interfaces between smartphones and tablets are almost synonymous.
We believe there is a disconnect here, but not an insurmountable one. And if the ROI of using mobile devices and tablets can be proven, it will help smooth the way to adoption.
The good news for those of us who evangelize for technology that can speed up transaction times is that a large percentage of dealers are reaping the benefits of mobile, or intend to in the future.
The survey found that 63% of dealers are either using mobile tablets in the sales department (24%) or considering using them (39%), while 50% are either using or actively considering using mobile tablets in the F&I department.
And those using them are acknowledging their benefits. Of the dealers currently using mobile tablets in their dealerships, the No. 1 benefit cited was “speeding up the sales process” (44%), with “improved CSI” (39%) and “efficiency and consistency of processes” (50%) second and third.
The survey results for dealers who are not currently using mobile tablets were almost the same, with a speedier sales process and better CSI considered the top potential benefits.
So, why am I so bullish on mobile? Because anything that has the potential to speed up the transaction process, help F&I efficiency, and improve the customer experience will rapidly translate into more sales, higher CSI, and better prospects for loyalty.
And my obsession is the hardworking F&I department, where consumer wait times can be lengthy, creating an obstacle to CSI success. More than half the dealers responding to our transaction time survey reported that unengaged wait time—either in F&I or the dealership—constituted the No. 1 pain point for consumers.
If mobile can shorten those wait times, increase transparency, and allow the dealer to proceed at the pace the customer wants, wouldn’t that be a good thing?
What if each part of the process, from showroom to lot to test drive to F&I, were connected so that rather than leafing through mounds of paperwork, F&I could glide through online document pages, already populated (and dynamically adjusted) with customer information, prequalification, and lender terms on a mobile device?
The reality is that mobile devices and tablets, with the right processes and programs, can greatly enhance an information flow that leads seamlessly to a connected car-buying/selling experience, end-to-end, in the dealership.
And this means enabling everyone in the dealership involved in the vehicle purchase transaction to be connected—whether on the lot, in the showroom, or on a test drive—and reducing bottlenecks and inefficiencies in the sales and finance process.
I think it’s worth a try, don’t you?
Pete MacInnis is founder and CEO of eLEND Solutions, a company specializing in online and in-store credit, finance, and deal-making solutions designed to create a more efficient, faster-moving sales and F&I workflow that helps dealers sell more cars in less time, improve profitability, and increase customer satisfaction. eLEND Solutions’ patented platform streamlines car selling by bringing more functionality online. The company’s suite of products includes CreditPlus, ID Drive, and MobiLot.
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