In 1965, technology pioneer and Intel co-founder Gordon Moore developed what would become known as Moore’s Law, describing how computer processing speed doubles every 18 months. In 2016, some say that the next five to 10 years of technology innovation will move faster than that of the past 100 years.
For the modern automobile 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.
If you’ re uncertain about how to evolve your F&I to keep up with customer and OEM demands—or you’ve tried but been unsuccessful—the fly in the soup is often the numerous systems and technologies that don’ t work well together.
For instance, manual processes that require double data entry leaves a bitter taste for users and, along with paper-intensive processes, are viewed as old-school and less trustworthy than digital alternatives by many buyers, particularly younger ones.
This is how the future of F&I unfolds before us: Your choice is to adapt and migrate to global functionality with new methods of interactivity, or to continue painfully piece-mealing your processes, and risk the rejection of tomorrow’s F&I customers whose lifestyles are immersed in digital everything.
This evolution will challenge the software providers that lack global insight, resources, and the will to synthesize technologies into exciting new F&I tools. To shorten your learning curve with new F&I technology, collaborate with software partners that understand your tactical needs and demonstrate farsighted strategic planning and resource-advisory capabilities.
These new consumer-engagement technologies, such as virtual reality (VR) and gamification, are already reshaping how consumer retailers engage with customers. For instance, AT&T announced it will bring VR to its stores, in partnership with Samsung Electronics. This VR gear connects with Samsung phones and notebooks sold at AT&T stores, which deliver the content.
When this technology is applied to the F&I function, the goal is to give the dealership a more dynamic, educational, and efficient experience for customers who already use these methods of accessing and interacting information. A well-designed interface has a curator function that takes all available choices and presents the most efficient—yet comprehensive—way to educate, engage, and compel buyers. Perhaps most importantly, like any game, it gives users the comfort and control of deciding their destiny.
These types of F&I platforms, which embrace gamification and technology, transform complex workflows, business data, and personal customer input into a visually clean, simple, and user-friendly process. This metamorphosis occurs through the sophisticated, yet easy-to-use presentation of graphics, sounds, movement, and imagery that breaks down processes into bite-size portions digestible for the consumer.
- Interactive sales tools such as tablets, videos, customer surveys, kiosks, and engagement technologies all explain product features and benefits in a powerful way. Their use helps customers connect the value of products and how each product enhances their lifestyle goals.
- When correctly implemented, the e-menu and e-rating process simplifies and speeds up F&I menu presentations. It also eliminates the likelihood that F&I managers will make errors with the products they present.
- E-contract remittance speeds up the contracting process. According to J.D. Power, “process innovations such as e-contracting, combined with improvements in dealer support and a robust product offering, contributes to satisfaction increases.”
- Digital signature capture speeds document completion. Be sure the one you choose complies with the Electronic Transactions Act and the Electronic Signature in Global and National Commerce Act.
F&I menu systems that use interactive menus, e-rating, e-contracting, e-signature, and e-registration enable F&I managers to quickly and consistently build complete, timely, and accurate presentations.
The power to drive F&I profits by using digital F&I tools starts with selecting the right team that can balance business innovation, industry expertise, and the will to drive the technology. Evaluate partners by their ability to collaborate to help you reach ultimate productivity, measurable success, and the best possible experience for your customers. Make sure your F&I growth is not limited to the vision of your provider.
From 2003 to 2019, he helmed MaximTrak, a digital F&I platform, which he founded and sold to RouteOne LLC in 2016. Until late 2019, he continued aspresident of MaximTrak and as chief digital officer for RouteOne, bringing to market solutions trusted by dealers around the world.
Jim is widely regarded as a thought leader in business technologies and wealth-building strategies for entrepreneurs and F o rtune 500 companies alike.
He is a graduate of the Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business of Babson College, Babson Park, MA. He is married, with two children.
Latest posts by Jim Maxim, Jr.
- Plan, People and Profitability: A Lesson in Chicken - January 12, 2020
- Digitize Your Dealership Operations Now to Be Ready for 2020—and Beyond - October 12, 2018
- Fintechs: Are They Creating New Revenue Streams, or Siphoning Existing Ones? - September 25, 2018