Tag Archive | "iPad"

GWC Warranty Introduces iPad App for Dealers


WILKES-BARRE, Pa. — GWC Warranty, a provider of vehicle service contracts and related finance and insurance products, recently unveiled the new GWC Warranty Dealer App for iPads, reports F&I and Showroom. The app is now available in the Apple App Store.

The GWC App features an educational video library, interactive coverage selection tool, real-time, reactive virtual shopping cart and mobile rating engine with VIN scanner to create a fast, easy, user-guided experience for selling vehicle service contracts.

“In developing the GWC Warranty Dealer App, our goal was to create the easiest way to sell a vehicle service contract by taking customer education and contract rating from the top of a desk to the palm of a hand,” said GWC Warranty CEO and President Rob Glander. “This app is yet another tool for our dealers that lets them and their customers know they are working with the best-in-class vehicle service contract provider. Part of our promise as a company is to help our dealers sell more cars by investing in technology to make them more efficient and progressive.”

The GWC Warranty Dealer App for iPads is the latest in a line of the company’s technological innovations designed to help dealers sell more cars. In the past year, GWC also introduced its web-based Dealer Portal, which offers the ability to rate and remit vehicle service contracts online. For Elite and WealthBuilder Dealers, GWC also recently introduced online claims service to help expedite the claims process for customers of GWC’s top dealer partners.

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Agent Summit 2014 Recap: Technology Showcase Panel


While most dealers have switched over to eRating, many have not switched over to eContracting all of their paperwork. Johnny Garlich, President, Heart Dealer Financial Services and moderator for the Technology Showcase panel led a discussion that addressed the latest offerings in technology, as well as the roadblocks and predictions for the future in the F&I office. The panel of experts each presented solutions and shared their predictions about what the F&I office of the future will look like.

Brian Reed, president and CEO, F&I Express opened the discussion stating, “Without any doubt in my mind, the industry is going toward electronic processing of all aftermarket product. It’s not ‘if’ it’s going to happen, it’s happening right now and I think everyone really needs to get on board with figuring out exactly what it means and how to make it easiest for the dealer. The key to success is to make it as fast and easy as possible for the dealer. The nature of an F&I manager is to get it done quickly and if there are roadblocks slowing them down, they are not going to like it. The big, big change, and where the market is going to bring this whole process together, is eSignature. Once you have eSignature, it really streamlines things and makes it that much faster for the F&I managers. Consumers expect that today.”

Nowicki, vice president of retail software, IAS, whose company provides single point eRating and eContracting through a menu says most of their users are on their menu. “I think the key for agents, is picking a solution where you can eRate and eContract all of your products in one spot. If they have to go to multiple websites, that is certainly not making things efficient for your dealers at all.”

David Trinder, CEO, F&I Administration Solutions, explained that some years ago, they adopted the strategy of linking their administration solution to as many dealer facing menus and other selling solutions as there are out there. He thought it was surprising to see that there are close to 30 menus and other systems to which they are now connected. “We have customers who are very close to having 100% of their volume being done electronically and we have customers who are now coming up with products that they are only processing electronically. So they are going to the dealer and saying if you want to sell this product, you have to process it electronically. With the extent of our connectivity, this strategy works very successfully.”

By doing this, Trinder says they have made it possible for an agent to walk into a dealership, ask the dealer’s preference in the way they present and sell their products, and easily align themselves with that preference. “Despite the connectivity part, at the end of the day, it still takes some effort to get to 100%. You can put all of the technology you want in front of an F&I manager but often, there still has to be some incentive to get them to use it. However, we have seen that even a little bit of incentive can be quite successful.”

Brent Allen, COO and president, StoneEagle, says StoneEagle is most known for its reporting functionalities. He was asked about how the industry would put eSignature into place. “We generally agree that if the manufacturer started to employ eSignature, and if the bank started to use more eContracting and eSignature, that would force the ‘I’ side to adopt it too, because the dealer would soon be more comfortable with it.” In the last year, Toyota was pushing 65% and Ford was right behind them. Nissan is also pushing the use of eSignature on the finance side. “We have seen a hard push in 2013 and it will get stronger in 2014. As a result, I think we will start to see a lot more acceptance on the ‘I’ side and that flows directly into what this panel is talking about – more acceptance of eContracting and eSignature itself is the key piece.”

So how do we move everything into this seamless process that everyone wants to achieve?

Garlich said that in his experience, the reticence in moving over to eContracting is not because they don’t like it, it’s because of the workflow, which he describes as longer and more convoluted. People simply aren’t going to jump on board when this is the case. “If F&I guys could go ahead and produce the document set and have it ready to go after the customer makes a menu selection – and do it all in one area – then I think you would find a lot of them would do it.”

While everyone has used the traditional key metrics, Garlich commented that StoneEagle is one of the leaders in reporting how that is changing from the traditional spreadsheet general agents have had for years into what we have today.

Reporting Tools

“We have had requests for more graphic presentation tools,” Allen pointed out, “We have been delivering a lot more reports via email – which you have to be careful with – you can’t put any personal and private information in an email but you can put statistics in an email.”

Allen continued, “We built a very specific app for an ipad or a tablet, so that when you sign in, the first thing it does is a pure graphic presentation. It’s bar charts and pie charts, because that was the feedback we got. You walk into a store and really the eye candy is the chart, not so much the data and then we work backwards into the data. So really they see what they want to see – in red, yellow, green – and then you drill down backwards into the actual data.” Oddly enough, Allen reported that despite the original push for this type of presentation, the adoption of it has not been as big as might have been expected.

Nowicki explained how SmartMenu, his reporting tool, can be used to show the results of using a menu versus not using a menu. “With our reporting tool, we do offer a lot of analytics that compare what numbers look like with and without a menu, and with and without certain sales tools on the menu. It gives the agents a way not only to measure those numbers, but to hold F&I managers accountable. If you can go into the dealer and clearly show a PRU difference of $300 per car with a menu in place, versus without, it’s a very easy sale. On the accountability side, you can now go in, look at every single deal and ensure that every single deal gets a menu and follows whatever process you put in place. So if your process is that every customer sees a particular type of menu, and has particular sales tool usage, you can monitor all that very easily from home or your iPad or wherever else.”

Another thing agents are demanding are more analytics that they can control. Nowicki continued, “it’s not a matter of us sending a report that’s in PDF form – that’s kind of locked down. I think what most of our agents expect is, in a perfect world, you would all like to take out your ipad, run reports, slice and dice data and drill down to what you’re looking for. We are working on developing reports that are interactive, give you more analytics, more capability, more filtering on demand, etc., all on your ipad.”

Mobile reporting has been around a while and has developed a lot in the past year. According to Trinder, mobile is the way to go. He thinks the industry will be fully on board with mobile reporting by the end of the year. He pointed out that the most important aspect of mobile reporting and tablets is the immediacy of data. “In my view, one of the real values of mobile and tablets is giving agents data on the road in real time. If you are looking for something that’s going to change your life in the coming year, as much as the technology within the dealerships might change, I think your expectations about how much data you’re getting and what you are going to understand from it is where you should be looking. Just before you walk in the dealership you should be able to see what kind of transactions they have done and how many there are. With these statistics, you can go and have the right kind of conversation with the dealer – right then and there.”

Is the F&I Office Going Online?

Garlich asked the panel how processes could be adapted to take into account the change in how people are buying cars and doing transactions. Millennials, especially, are wanting to do business away from the dealership.

Reed predicted we will see a lot more of the F&I office online in the future. “With the way that people are evolving in how they use the Internet and what they are demanding, I think that they are ultimately going to demand that the industry move the F&I office out of the office and move it more online. That’s going to be a big change for the industry. The goal here is not to lose F&I income; it’s to be able to give the customers what they want online and still maintain the profitability that you have today. I would say that in the next 5 years this is going to be a significant challenge to everyone in this room. And there’s not a magic answer. People who are trying to do some of this online today aren’t real good at it. I haven’t seen a really good result around this, or a very good process, but I think people have to start trying it, thinking about it and talking about how everyone is going to work together to make that happen as an industry, as consumers are going to be demanding that in the future.”

Others in the panel disagreed, including the moderator, whose immediate response, “that’s a bummer!” brought laughter from the audience.

Garlich said he sees the problem with selling remotely being that for many, they don’t have a process – their process is just a telephone call. “I can tell you we are not going to run 50-60% service contract penetrations trying to sell stuff over the phone, but I do think the consumer is going to call the shots on this. If they decide they want us to come to them in some way, shape or form, we need to start thinking about what that looks like and thinking about how what we do in a face to face environment can be translated into a remote environment. I think that what that means for us as general agents is that we change our selling style and our training processes to take into account these changes in the consumer preference.”

Trinder said he was not convinced that even in five years, most sales won’t still be happening in the dealership. He described a huge gap between the provider and the customer, with the agent and the dealership in between. “When the customer goes to look online, they are going to be on the dealership’s website more than likely. And the dealership isn’t exactly selling products from one provider. So the dealership has got to present products that aren’t theirs and which also may be from many providers. It’s a very interesting challenge we face and I am not sure how easily we’re going to solve it.”

From the perspective of selling, rather than consumer demand, Reed pointed out that more consumers are going to want self-selection and transparency of the process; so for a certain segment of the market, its going to be less about how you are going to sell, versus, how you are going to present. That involves a different skill set and a different approach. He brought to light an interesting comparison from his own experience as a consumer. “I go into an electronic store to buy a computer today and I know what’s going to happen once I say ‘I’ll take it.’ They are going to start hitting me up to buy a warranty for that computer. They grind me, grind me, grind me, but I say no, no, no. But if I go online and I buy my computer, configure my computer and then they say, ‘how about an extended warranty?’ and all these other add on products, I am more likely to buy in the self-selection process like they have online, than in the store when I am hounded by a salesperson.”

Norwicki countered Reed’s scenario and agreed with Garlich. “I don’t think that in five years we are going to have this ‘amazon.com’ approach to buying cars where you get online, complete the transaction online and the car just shows up in your driveway. That might come in time, and maybe in some urban areas, but I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime soon.” However, he noted that we are already seeing customers who have done their research on the vehicle they want to purchase, and they come to the dealership expecting a short transaction. And they don’t expect to be sold in the F&I office. “[The focus] is not so much on the sales of your products, but on the education of our customer. They can find out anything they want about a vehicle online, but they would be hard pressed to go to a dealer’s website and find out anything about F&I products . . . that information just isn’t there!”

Norwicki described the view held by some trainers, that pre-exposure to products is not advisable, as a “dinosaur philosophy.” He went on to say, “I think customers today demand and expect education and that’s really what our focus should be on – educating customers on these products, not necessarily conducting the whole sale online.”

At the end of the day, some of it just boils down to customer preference and personality. Allen commented that as a hands-on person himself, he would always want to go into a dealership, see and touch the actual car and talk to a person.

In conclusion, Nowicki summed it up with his final comments, “I think that the holy grail for eContracting is what we are striving for today. EContracting of all the ancillary products, all the service contracts, and eSignatures on all those documents, but there are obviously pieces missing – the lender funding packet, the odometer statement, the title, apps, all that stuff. So clearly we are not there yet. We don’t have 100% of that documentation done electronically, but don’t take that to mean there’s not value in using what’s already there.”

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Tablet Technology: Gimmick or Key to the Future?


AE Magazine occasionally receives questions from readers, and recently we got one that we felt needed an expert answer. We reached out to four experts in the field seeking their take on the matter: John Vecchioni; Matt Nowicki; Jim Maxim, Jr; and Shawn McCool. Below, each of them tackled the same question:

“Do you believe tablet technology really adds value to the F&I office, or is it just another gimmick?”

John Vecchioni
National Sales Director, United Car Care

The idea of utilizing a sales menu in the finance office has many merits, but for some, it poses many obstacles in their comfortable sales process. Some will say there is data suggesting increased product sales as a result, and it is hard to dispute that product sales do increase just for the asking, or in this case, for the showing. But if the menu can increase product penetration so dramatically, then why do we need a finance manager? The incontrovertible fact is that menus don’t sell products and never were designed to sell products. People sell protective products on the merit of need and value. It’s always been that way and will continue to be that way. Now, don’t be foolish and look at a resource as something that can’t be utilized. The menu can and will assist you in building value in protective products.

It seems the conversation about today’s technology in the finance office regards the utilization of an iPad for product menu presentations. I suppose there is an argument to be made for iPad usage. One specific argument for using an iPad is ensuring that everyone is able to see every product every time and, of course, any electronic menu can facilitate that. We talk about the menu so much that it has become a daily topic in many stores. Some stores have even gone to the point of having third parties review files to ensure a menu has been presented.

Let me make this perfectly clear, menus, whether electronic, paper or introduced with on an iPad will never sell protective products in the finance office. They will never take the place of integrity and transparency. There is no magic technology that will do the work necessary in building value for the customer and create honesty among those who look for angles to get something for nothing. There is no technology that will build credibility and rapport between the finance manager and his or her customer. In other words, there is no magic bullet. However, the iPad presentation has some merit in that it engages the customer in choosing which product fits their needs. If this is what it takes for a commissioned finance person to present all of his or her product all the time then, so be it.

Keep in mind that the job of sales professionals is to find and fulfill a need with their customers. Technology allows us to present features and benefits in a variety of ways, but it will never perform the act of selling. It will never be able to enhance features in the product that appeal to the customer. In fact, to be honest, the menu is here to stay because of the inability of some to sell product, and to discourage the dishonest practice of payment packing. It also eliminates customers claiming they never were presented protective products when circumstance arose; because the legal community solicits consumers of auto purchases to bring them the paperwork so they can find liability to initiate a lawsuit. Because of the success of these suits, the need to hold the customer and the finance manager accountable has become a necessity for dealers to protect themselves, ironically, from their employees and their customers.

In today’s “gadget” driven world, the use of an iPad to introduce protective products to our customers can create some fun and take the anxiety out of the initial sales pitch. A customer can review products prior to entering the finance office and determine if they have a need, or simply look products over out of curiosity. There are some who would say this is introducing product without knowledge of need. The first step in sales is determining a need before describing features and benefits; to do otherwise would enhance the probability of missing the need of the customer and make closing the sale difficult.

Whether it’s an iPad, electronic menu or a printed menu, the fact remains: never does a sale occur without the customer seeing a need in the product. Need drives value, and value drives decision when purchasing anything. By utilizing resourceful tools that are available, the finance office can become more efficient and, in turn, allow more time in discovery. In the end, the introduction of a product menu is essential to the business; just keep in mind that customer facts trump technology.

Jim Maxim, Jr.
President, MakimTrak Technologies

The anecdotal and observable evidence substantiating the popularity and acceptance of tablet and smartphone technologies for personal and business use is hard to miss. Their mobile advantages help consumers search for restaurants while on the go – and post selfies to Facebook while there – and enable businesses to break free of the PC and take needed data into the field or showroom.

Tablets and other mobile devices are not gimmicks, but rather are valuable production tools for F&I. Using them helps F&I be more flexible. Their use makes consumers feel more comfortable with the sales process, as more and more consumers today use these tools and rely on them to make their life simpler.

If we perceive using tablets as giving away control, we’re still selling in the ‘90s. Once we recognize that consumers today have more control over the car-buying process than many of us would like to acknowledge, we’ll realize that trying to control the sale by managing the information flow and using canned closes simply loses money and customers for the dealership.

Instead, using tablets and other mobile technologies to present F&I options gives customers more control – and consumer studies say that’s important to consumer retention. Tablets put F&I information in consumer’s hands, where they want it and in an understandable format. They are familiar with these tools. They use them and trust them – and perceive businesses that do likewise as businesses they’re more likely to patronize.

We analyzed this concept quite a bit before investing heavily in our new mobility solutions for dealers. Henry Blodget, CEO and editor-in-chief of Business Insider, has posted his research and findings publically for a few years now. He draws several conclusions, but the most insightful that has an impact on our discussions today is this: “Mobile devices will dwarf the number of PCs in the market in the next 24-months and based on global shipment data. Tablets are already cannibalizing the PC market… quickly.”

Matt Nowicki
Vice President of Retail Software, IAS

F&I tablets are as helpful in the F&I office as they are useful keeping young kids engaged! Dealership tablet technologies are very broad and can be used in several ways that range in value from dealership to dealership. The IAS tablet technology, SmartPad, is used everywhere from the sales process to the service drive. But what most of our customers like to use it for is the transition from sales to finance. In addition to creating more sales opportunities, tablet technology shortens the F&I process by gathering and presenting a customizable array of information while the customer is preparing to be transitioned from sales to the F&I office. It goes beyond the typical survey and interview by using dynamic video and multimedia presentations designed to engage the customer in additional sales opportunities once they are turned over to F&I.

Tablet software is also easy to customize because the configuration is often Web-based, meaning dealers can tweak presentations on an as-needed basis and their tablets are updated immediately. At their core, technologies like SmartPad can be used to provide the simple CSI survey style of old, but also have the capabilities of presenting and gathering information in an engaging way that has never before been done in F&I.

Dealers can also go one step further with technologies that offer controlled menu presentation via tablet. These technologies allow F&I mangers to present all of their products in a manner similar to a traditional menu, but also include a host of electronic sales tools, product videos and electronic brochures, as well as other materials which would normally be shown via a paper evidence manual.

If an F&I manager is using the tablet as a simple presentation tool and not utilizing a customer software program like SmartPad, then perhaps it could be considered a new way of looking at the same information. As for IAS, we see tablet technologies as a powerful tool at the finance office’s disposal, which will only increase in popularity in the coming years.

Shawn McCool
Co-founder, iTapMenu

If you think it’s a gimmick, then it’s a gimmick. An example: if you think the pre-delivery interview is a gimmick, then you aren’t going to be successful implementing it into your process. Tablet technology is no different.

Does it add “real value?” If that’s the actual question, and it’s a good one, then of course it does. It provides more content about the products, supports the presenter’s credibility by displaying the cause-and-effect of the transaction to the consumer and speeds up the process. A primary goal at iTapMenu is to take the deficiencies of a paper menu and fill in the gaps. There are some things you obviously can’t do on a piece of paper.

You can’t re-configure a menu column in real-time. You can’t change the term and/or interest rate. You can’t adjust a product price. You can’t choose when to display information about the product. If designed with this in mind, an iPad menu will correct some of the deficiencies of a paper menu; these aren’t features you’ll use every time, but when you need them, at that moment, it’s nice to know you have them available.

To fully answer the question, I would compare a completely committed F&I manager who uses a paper menu with an F&I manager who hasn’t bought in and feels an iPad menu is a “gimmick.” The results will prove this: It has – and always will – come down to the person. But what’s really great to see happen, is the successful F&I manager who thinks bigger. Their CSI is off the charts and their PRU is great, while still using a paper menu. Then they see the tablet technology and they can’t wait to implement it into their dealership. 100 percent of the time, there are improvements, literally every time. The person and their attitude are vital.

How are tablets being used today? I can speak only for iTapMenu: and the answer is a variety of ways. There’s no reason you can’t simply replace your existing menu with tablet technology. You can set up tablet menus with a three-column structure, and fit it into a paper menu process rather easily. But, there are also a large percentage of users that make the presentation mobile, and are exploring the limits of what the technology can do.. We love that. It’s not for everybody, but the feedback from F&I managers who use it this way is incredible. CSI and product sales go up instantly. I could talk your ear off about this, because I see it everyday. It’s a fact at this point. The sample size is big enough to confirm it – literally hundreds of users, all of whom were using a paper menu in their office prior, made this process switch and experienced instant improvements.

As to the future of tablets in F&I, there’s no reason to give you a boilerplate answer. I don’t know. If I did, I wouldn’t make it public anyway! Is it here to stay? That is a fact. But there are still many unanswered questions, such as “what will it do,” and “what will it look like?” It’s going to be really incredible, and the category is going to evolve well into the future.

So, the question is, what will shape the future of tablets in F&I? Typically, the product doesn’t react to a market; the product makes the market react. No one was hoping for someone to create a tablet. Once Apple released the iPad, we all realized how great it was. Hopefully, the same can be said for tablet technology as we continue to innovate it. I’ll give you one hint though – if we don’t have F&I managers, then tablet technology goes out of business. We’re doubling down on the F&I manager. And we feel it’s a great bet.

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Sonic Automotive Going Mobile


TYSONS CORNER – Sonic Automotive Inc. announced that it has built and deployed a mobile reporting app for the iPad and iPhone using MicroStrategy Mobile.

“Mobility and business intelligence are two of our top strategic priorities,” said Heath Byrd, vice president and chief information officer at Sonic Automotive. “Our executive and regional leadership teams live on the road, traveling from dealership to dealership. This app allows them to stay connected to the data they need to run the business.”

Using the new app, Sonic corporate executives and regional teams can access operational, financial and market information for their dealerships, reported F&I and Showroom magazine. The app currently provides a scorecard for each dealership, as well as insight into sales effectiveness and key operating metrics. The app also is used to analyze daily operating results and month-to-date financial results.

“The performance and convenience of our mobile reporting app on the user-friendly iPad and iPhone has been impressive,” said Richard Hanks, director of enterprise business intelligence at Sonic Automotive. “Our executives and regional teams save a great deal of time and gain valuable insights into the business every day. The application was surprisingly easy to develop and we were able to deploy in a matter of weeks.”

Sanju Bansal, chief operation officer at MicroStrategy, added: “Our mobile app platform is easy-to-use and enables companies to quickly build rich, intuitive applications that mirror the way people work.”

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Dealers and Automakers Have a New Tool: The iPad


The iPad, Apple’s hot new tablet computer, has been on the market only since April. But already it has become a tool for dealers, automakers and at least one finance company, Automotive News reported.

Ohio Mercedes dealer Bernie Moreno was one of the iPad’s early adopters.

The day the iPad reached stores, he had his daughter wait in line so he could be among the first buyers.

Moreno, president of Mercedes-Benz of North Olmsted, near Cleveland, started using the iPad in his dealership right away.

“The idea is: How can you use this to your advantage and improve your experience and separate your dealership from everybody else?” he said.

The device is thin, wireless and graphics-rich. Its display is large enough that sharing information on the screen is easier than with a smart phone. It costs $499 to $829.

Dealership employees can carry the device with them as they work with customers, instead of staying behind a desk.

For Moreno, the hand-held device has proved to be handy for checking in vehicles as they come off lease. The entire transaction can be handled right at the car, with the customer participating in the walk-around inspection.

Moreno is also one of 40 Mercedes dealers helping Mercedes-Benz Financial test an iPad app that launched last month. The app is a portable version of MB Advantage, an online system that dealers use for finance and insurance transactions, such as credit applications and vehicle-specific marketing programs.

Moreno was already using the iPad when he learned Mercedes-Benz Financial was working on the app.

The iPad app follows on the finance company’s smart-phone app, which lets customers pay their bills using a mobile device.

“It’s an opportunity for the dealer to integrate the sales and financing processes,” said Andreas Hinrichs, vice president of marketing for Mercedes-Benz Financial. That eliminates the need to take customers away from the car and into a separate office to handle F&I matters, he said.

But the iPad also has value as a symbol, Moreno said. It shows customers that the dealership is not just high-end, it’s cutting-edge.

“It sounds kind of corny, but it’s pretty cool,” Moreno said. “They’re blown away by the iPad in the first place.”

In Europe, Volkswagen AG has launched a digital customer magazine, called DAS, especially for the iPad. DAS is short for Digital Automotive Space.

At Hyundai, buyers of the Equus luxury sedan will get an iPad, rather than a traditional owner’s manual, when the vehicle debuts this fall.

Hyundai Motor America CEO John Krafcik told reporters at the New York auto show: “Who reads a 300-page manual anyway? Instead, they’ll have a gorgeous color touch screen, loaded with the manual electronically, as well as photos of the whole Hyundai lineup.”

As of early June, Apple had sold more than 2 million iPads worldwide. Moreno said that even when the novelty wears off, the device will remain useful.

“You find more and more ways to use it,” he said, and “you wonder how you ever did without it.”

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