Tag Archive | "Product & Technology"

Mobile Management for Customers, Dealers and Agents

Take a second and look around you. Where is your cell phone? I bet it’s within reach. You might even be reading this article on your phone right now. Mobile technology has put the world in your hands, and dealer software providers have taken notice.

One of the latest solutions to hit the market is Sidewayze, a patent pending mobile marketing and sales tool developed by the Longmont, Colo.-based company of the same name. Sidewayze made its official debut at Agent Summit in Las Vegas in March, where Todd Schulte, the company’s president and co-founder, says the new tool received a warm welcome.

“We’re very happy with our early successes,” Schulte says. “We have clients up and down the West Coast and we’re making great progress in the Midwest.”

Walking the Lot

The customer-facing side of Sidewayze is a small window sticker with a Quick Response (a.k.a. “QR”) Code box — turned on its side, in the shape of a diamond — that can be scanned to deliver dealer-supplied information about each vehicle. Each sticker also includes instructions for downloading the Sidewayze app to their iPhone, iPad or Android phone; once that process is completed, they can scan, review and compare as many vehicles as they like.

That data is housed on the Sidewayze website, and it can include a vehicle description, photos, vehicle history reports and even reviews. Dealers can print the crack-and-peel stickers themselves, and customers can scan them any time, even when the office is closed.

Better yet, customers have the luxury of reviewing all of the vehicles in detail from their computers at home by logging into their account on the Sidewayze website. They also have the option to post the vehicles to Facebook or Twitter and get feedback from their friends.

When a customer scans vehicles, they are also given several options to communicate with someone at the dealership. They can give their name, phone number or email address, or they can communicate anonymously. They also have the option to refuse contact from the dealer at all.

However they choose to communicate, Sidewayze will not share their information until given permission to do so. “We’re not sharing any personal identifiable information with anybody, unless the customer gives it,” Schulte says.

Benefits for Dealers and Agents

For dealers, Sidewayze offers a new way to market and manage inventory — and new ways to access it. Dealers can sign in from their home or office computer to access their accounts, add or edit information and track which vehicles are drawing the most interest.

“They can see all the scanning that that went on, and they can see the date and time the car was scanned,” Schulte says.

All that technology comes at a cost, but it’s a low cost. “We learned the average dealership spends $654 from the time they acquire a vehicle to the time they sell,” Schulte says. The price structure he and his partners decided on is simple: Dealers pay $2 per car, per month, an amount that Schulte describes as “statistically, almost nothing.”

Sidewayze is offering agents half the revenue for dealers they sign and offering in-person and online training to help familiarize both parties with the application. “This benefits the agents because we are driving incremental profitability for the dealership through increased results, the agents can expand their product offerings into a new area, and the compensation is substantial. It’s a win/win for everyone,” Schulte says.

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Digital Compliance, Part 2

Last month in this space, we discussed the existence and usefulness of inexpensive “digital” compliance tools. For purposes of this series, we consider “digital compliance” to mean any compliance tool or solution that is:

  • Web- or computer-based
  • Automated
  • Efficient
  • Effective

Part 1 evaluated digital compliance as it applied to OFAC, the Safeguards Rule, the Red Flags Rule, and F&I menus. This month we’ll look at the Dodd-Frank Act, Environmental, Health & Safety, Human Resources, and Compliance Training. Next month (assuming reader mail doesn’t suggest additional topics) we’ll wrap up by examining digital compliance solutions for Product Training, Deceptive Trade Practices, and Audits & Review.

Dodd-Frank Act

The topics of Adverse Action Notices and Risk-based Pricing Notices have generated great angst in the dealership community of late, due in large measure to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. I could argue that Act neither meaningfully reforms Wall Street nor protects consumers, but it certainly got dealers’ attention.

The reason for dealer attention was the expansion of disclosures that adverse action notices must contain. Dodd-Frank amends the Fair Credit Reporting Act to require creditors to disclose in their adverse action notices:

  • A numerical credit score used in making the credit decision
  • the range of possible scores under the model used
  • Up to four key factors that adversely affected the consumer’s credit score (or up to five factors if the number of inquiries made with respect to that consumer report is a key factor)
  • The date on which the credit score was created
  • The name of the person or entity that provided the credit score

And then there’s risk-based pricing. Dodd-Frank requires risk-based pricing notices (RBPN) be given in situations where credit is offered on terms “materially less favorable” than “the most favorable terms available to a substantial portion of consumers” where the credit decision was “based in whole or in part on the consumer report.” In the alternative, dealers may provide an “exception notice” to all consumers after a credit score is obtained and before a financial contract is consummated.

Confused yet?

Fortunately for dealers, many third party vendors in the credit-approval process provide compliant adverse action notices and RBPN. In addition, CRM and DMS systems generally can print a compliant notice as well. You can check out CoreLogic Credco’s solution at www.credcoservices.com/assets/pdfs/samplereports/rbpn_sample.pdf; RouteOne’s at www.routeone.com/products/dealers/services/compliance-tools.dot; and ProCredit Express’ at www.procreditexpress.com/riskBased.html. So you’re covered, right? In the immortal words of Lee Curso, “Not so fast, my friend…”

It’s easy to provide a customer in F&I with an exception notice, but what about unsold showroom traffic? And how do you ensure a proper notice was actually provided in F&I, or emailed (after securing permission to use email), or mailed within 30 days of a credit bureau being pulled? And how do you document that your dealership complied? Remember, in the world of compliance, if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen. So be sure to determine that the solution you choose addresses those issues.

Environmental, Health & Safety

In the EHS arena, dealerships need to comply with OSHA, DOT, EPA, State regulations, and the local press corps if things don’t always work out. Inspections are a part of this, and those generally require real people making actual site visits. But the miracle of the internet can improve and automate many processes.

For example, consider Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS). An MSDS explains the properties of a given substance used or present at a dealership. They are intended to provide workers with procedures for handling or working with the covered substance in a safe manner, and must be available for workers and emergency personnel.

MSDS can be stored, catalogued and updated in thick black three-ring binders. Or the appropriate MSDS can be accessed online and maintained on the dealership’s behalf by a third party vendor. For my money, the latter approach is the way to go.

Similarly, DOT/Hazmat training can be had online. Online solutions for the management of documentation are also available, including inspection reports, issue logs, safety committee meeting notes, DOT and other employee certifications, and accident reports. Online dashboards make status easy to observe and track. For one such vendor, see KPA at www.kpaonline.com.

Human Resources

Much of the value of digital compliance solutions lies in their ability to create repeatable, verifiable processes. One of the areas in which this capability is tremendously important is Human Resources (HR). Treating all employees consistently and fairly is vital in order to both do right and avoid lawsuits based on discrimination or wrongful termination.

Web-based applications exist to make consistent and compliant HR actions easy. Such tools address Recruitment and applicant training, performance management, incident reporting, even online advice from employment law attorneys. Dashboards can provide a bird’s-eye view of the status of individuals and the dealership as a whole.

When employees sue employers, the value of being able to document reasonable actions cannot be overestimated. Web-based solutions create checklists and processes to be followed, and a secure archive of those actions from which reports can easily be generated. Paper employee files look archaic by comparison.

For an example of such a web-based solution, see HotlinkHR at www.hotlinkhr.com.

Compliance Training

True fact: delivering a motor vehicle in an American retail transaction is one of the most heavily-regulated activities on earth. It is only slightly less regulated (deep breath…) than building a nuclear power plant on a bald eagle eating a manatee in the wetlands behind Al Gore’s house. Seriously. A dealership’s daily business involves the Fair Credit Reporting Act, Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Regulation M, Regulation Z, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, Red Flags Rule, Safeguards Rule, Used Car Rule, Holder-in-Due-Course Rule, Privacy Rule, Disposal Rule, Credit Practices Rule, Telemarketing Sales Rule, Cash Reporting Rule, CAN-SPAM, FTC Act, FACT Act, OFAC, and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act.

That was just a partial list – to tell you the truth, in all this confusion I kind of lost track myself. So you’ve got to ask yourself one question: How can a dealership’s non-attorney employees follow laws they don’t even know exist? Do you feel lucky? Well do ya, punk?

With apologies to Dirty Harry, it’s easy to cut through the confusion with a web-based legal compliance training program that educates dealership employees on the laws that govern their jobs. Coupled with a Learning Management System, records and reports are created that demonstrate who took the training, when, and how they did on the module-end test that confirms learning took place. Done right, this can even create admissible evidence in support of a dealership’s position in consumer litigation.

Curricula can be tailored for the specific job description of the learner. So, for example, every employee can take Sexual Harassment training, while only F&I personnel would take a module on the legal implications of F&I menus. Automated reporting features can be configured to give the appropriate manager regular emails concerning the progress of those in his department.

To see one such program – mine – go to www.mosaic-compliance.com.

If you’ve made it this far, good news: only one more article to wrap this up. And the finale will include a compliance checklist to keep all these obligations (and the options to address them) straight.

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Digital Compliance, Part 1

Research and my own experience have shown that (a drum roll, please)… dealers are cheap. And I don’t mean that in a negative way. Rather, in the past few years of tightening car sales and constipated margins, the best dealers have trimmed their expenses to the extent possible. Lazy brothers-in-law got laid off. Jets went up for sale.

Against this backdrop, dealers understand that, while they need effective and verifiable compliance solutions, they are hesitant to spend hard dollars for services that can’t prove ROI. Fortunately, effective and verifiable web-based solutions are readily available. And they can be cheap.

Compliance topics that lend themselves to digital solutions include:

  • OFAC
  • Safeguards Rule
  • Red Flags Rule
  • F&I Menus
  • Dodd Frank/Adverse Action Notices
  • Environmental, Health & Safety
  • Human Resources
  • Compliance Training
  • Product Training
  • Deceptive Trade Practices
  • Audit & Review

Let’s examine how web-based technologies can contribute to compliance in those areas, affordably. We’ll look at the first four this time, and hit the remainder in the next issue or two.


Complying with the requirements of the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) is perhaps the easiest and cheapest digital solution of all. OFAC prohibits businesses from dealing with any person or entity on its list of Specially Designated Nationals, popularly referred to as the “bad guy list.” Interestingly, there is no minimum dollar level for OFAC compliance so, technically, you should be subject to an OFAC check just before hearing “Want fries with that?”

One free way of running an online OFAC check is to go to www.treasury.gov and clicking until you get to the bad guy list, then searching for your customer’s name. But while free, this is cumbersome and only as reliable as the operator – who will only get paid if the deal goes through. And even under the best of circumstances, this free approach does not automatically create and archive a record of the effort. In the world of compliance, that is a serious deficiency – if it isn’t documented, it didn’t happen.

Most credit reporting agencies have an inexpensive online OFAC check function. For a quarter or so, you can run the customer’s name against the bad guy list and create a record of your having done so. Now that’s value!

Other popular sources of OFAC checks include RouteOne (www.routeone.com), ProCredit Express (www.procreditexpress.com), and Veratad (www.veratad.com).

Whichever solution you use, beware of one common pitfall: OFAC requires a check of every customer, not just every finance customer. This means you need a process in place to catch cash customers. All of the solutions mentioned above can be used in connection with a cash transaction. The real trick is remembering to do so.

Safeguards Rule

The Federal Trade Commission Safeguards Rule is intended to make financial institutions (as dealerships are considered under the Rule) protect consumers’ nonpublic personal information (NPI). The Rule requires dealerships to:

  1. Designate a Program Coordinator;
  2. Conduct a risk assessment;
  3. Design and implement safeguards to control the risks identified by the assessment;
  4. Oversee its service providers; and
  5. Periodically reevaluate the program and amend it as necessary.

Items 1, 2, 4, and 5 are labor-intensive and not well served by online tools. But item 3 – the nuts and bolts of the Rule – is a problem with a digital solution. Several, in fact.

The two great risks to NPI at a dealership are paper files and computer data. Consider that a deal jacket almost certainly contains enough NPI to steal an identity. Credit applications are the Holy Grail for identity thieves. And computer files – the dealership’s DMS – contain the NPI of all of their customers. Clearly, these must be protected.

To address the risk that paper files present, some dealerships electronically scan the entire deal jacket and then shred the original paper files. If there are no paper files, there are no paper files to steal. Iron Mountain has a robust document management solution (www.ironmountain.com), as does DealerTrack (www.dealertrack.com). The former is more generic; the latter tailored to the automotive market. Lazy Days RV Center, the largest RV dealership in the world, has been taking this approach for almost a decade. “In all that time,” says Harold Oehler, Lazy Days’ general counsel, “we’ve never had a problem finding a document. It was the paper documents that were more likely to go missing.”

To protect computer files, it should go without saying that strong firewalls should be in place. But don’t put an exaggerated level of trust in firewalls alone. Firewalls merely limit the number of open ports through which data may be stolen. Preventing such theft is the real job. To accomplish this, dealers should invest in up-to-date anti-virus, anti-malware, and anti-phishing programs.

Furthermore, almost every organization should have an intrusion detection system (ISP). ISPs detect unauthorized attempts to access a computer network, or internal attempts to violate network policies (such as the entire customer database being downloaded from a workstation in the service department – true story).

To learn more about ISPs, check out Intrusion, Inc. (www.intrusion.com) or, for a free solution, try Sourcefire’s Snort at www.snort.org.

Red Flags Rule

The gist of the Red Flags Rule can be summed up in just seven words:

  1. Policy
  2. Training
  3. Detect
  4. Prevent
  5. Mitigate
  6. Oversee
  7. Ensure

To string those words together, the Rule requires financial institutions (again, including dealerships) to have an identity theft prevention program (ITPP) that is, the policy, train its employees on that policy, to detect, prevent and mitigate the effects of identity theft at or through the dealership. The dealership must oversee its service providers so that they comply with the Rule to the extent applicable to their operations, and ensure that the ITPP continues to work over time.

To a greater or lesser degree, all seven of those requirements have an electronic solution. The most significant involve the requirements of detection, prevention, and mitigation.

Many vendors have tools to detect attempts of identity thieves to steal cars by using another person’s identity. For example, ADP Dealer Services (www.adpdealerservices.com) offers a Red Flags solution that goes a long way towards detecting attempts at identity theft and, as important, documenting those efforts. So does DealerTrack, ProCredit Express, and others. These solutions focus on elements of the transaction to determine the likelihood of fraud. If that likelihood is strong enough, knowledge-based authentication (out-of-wallet challenge questions) can be applied. This is both simple and effective. And best of all, cheap.

Mitigation is a bit more tricky. The only meaningful form of mitigation I can think of is identity theft recovery and monitoring service. This service scans the internet (both the legitimate and “Black” internet) 24/7, looking for misuse or sale of a customer’s NPI. If identity theft occurs, trained recovery specialists restore the victim’s identity to its pre-event status. Some dealers give away a year of this service with every car delivered, then upsell additional years in F&I to create a profit center. For more information, contact… me. My company provides this service, and I’ve got three kids in college!

One word of warning: many companies provide Red Flags compliance tools and almost all of them claim to be “complete” or “turnkey” solutions. But given that there are seven significant requirements, and most solutions address two or three at best, these claims should be taken with a grain of salt.

F&I Menus

When F&I menus first came on the scene, they were novel, clever, and paper. Then along came PC-based menus – a great improvement. Now they come in web-enabled versions, and I am a big fan. Properly used, these selling tools are compliance tools as well.

By consistently presenting all products to all customers, F&I menus can reduce the risk of discrimination claims. Archived menus provide proof, if ever needed, of the pricing put in front of a customer. Written disclaimers can be clearly presented. A clear paper trail connecting the desking tool, buyer’s order, and installment sale contract is created. In short, a properly used electronic F&I menu can be a dealership’s (and its counsel’s) best friend.

Such menus are easy to find. Check out IAS, LP (www.iasdirect.com), The Impact Group, Inc. (www.theimpactgroup.com), or MaximTrak (www.maximtrak.com).

That’s just a sampling of the digital solutions available to enhance dealerships’ compliance efforts on the cheap. We’ll discuss more in the coming issues, and conclude with a checklist dealers can consult to evaluate how they’re doing in these important areas.

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Web-Based Reporting: An Excellent Goal Setting Tool

If a sharpshooter is given the task of hitting a target from 50 feet away, how many times would he or she hit the bull’s eye? Now take the same sharpshooter and put a blindfold on them, and have them turn around in a circle. How many times would he or she hit the target with the blind fold on? My point is, you can’t hit a target you don’t see. If an agent doesn’t regularly set goals for their dealers and then hold them accountable to the goals, then it is just like managing that relationship with a blindfold on.

The independent agent should set monthly goals for the dealer. They should also install the tools to regularly access and hold the dealer accountable to the results. The goals should be clearly defined. A time frame should be set to achieve these goals, and they should be measurable. That means the goals must be statistically proven. They should also be documented and have a plan of action. Finally, they need to have the tools in place so everyone involved can quickly track the results, and compare whether what has been accomplished measures up to the goal that was set.

The tool that many agents use to accomplish this is a web-based reporting tool. A web-based Dealer Reporting tool can extract data daily, or in some cases real time, and provides the Agent with a tool to supply the dealer with that monitors on a daily basis the progress toward accomplishing the monthly goals.

What are the Focal points of Dealer Reporting? (ACT): Accountability, Competition, Tracking

Accountability: Dealer personnel need to be held accountable to the goals that are set. A dealer typically sets goals for the personnel to reach on a monthly basis, but by the time the end of the month rolls around it is too late to make the adjustments to ensure the goals are met.

Web-based Dealer Reporting gives the Dealer and Agent the tool to make sure the dealer personnel are held accountable daily, rather than monthly, to the goals that are set. This way, action may be taken to correct any deficiencies when they occur rather than when it is too late. That corrective action may be in the form of additional training or consulting with the dealership personnel to get them on track.

Competition: Everything in business starts with a sale. The Front end of a dealership is all about sales, beginning with the vehicle that is sold and ending with the aftermarket items that are presented to the customer. A good sales organization is one that is highly competitive. We want the personnel to strive to be the best at what they do. We want them to aim to outperform their peer group.

A Dealer reporting tools allow the dealership personnel to regularly be ranked against their counterparts in the dealership. This creates the daily competition necessary to maximize the profitability at the dealership in all areas. Sales personnel can be ranked against others, as it relates to front end sales profit or back end F&I profit. Sales Managers and F&I Managers can also be compared to promote competition and increase profitability.

Tracking: Pay Plans are an excellent way to ensure that the dealership personnel are maximizing profit opportunities and selling the products that are in the best interest of the company. This way, a dealer and agent can control the types of products that the F&I people or sales people focus on. Tracking the result regularly can easily be done with web-based Dealer reporting. The result is keeping the F&I person or Sales personnel on track during the month to make it more likely that they will hit the goals that are set.

Types of Reports

The Dealer/Agent needs a library of Reports to choose from. The reports should provide snapshots of a range of profit opportunities in the dealership. For example, report snapshots may address the dealers financing sources, the aftermarket profits options, and their sales and F&I profits.

Reports should also highlight unit sales and income totals, averages, and penetrations. Here are some examples of some of the types of Reports in a dealer’s customer reporting library:

Lender Analysis Report: This report should evaluate the totals that a lender is advancing, the income that the dealer is paid directly from the lender, and the income that is typically generated from the contracts that are approved by that lender. Web-based reporting allows these totals to be displayed and sorted by category or sub-category.

  • Advance Analysis: Number of Contracts, Volume of Contracts, Average Contract written, and the percentage advanced (amount financed / sales price)
  • Reserve Analysis: Average Reserve, Term, and Rate
  • Profit Analysis: Gross profit, Sales Profit, F&I profit

F&I Manager Column Comparison Report: This report may highlight the following: Dollars per Retail unit, Cash units, Finance units, and Lease units. It also displays Units sold, Products sold, Penetrations, Income, and Averages.

Menu Usage Report: This type of report evaluates when an F&I Manager is using a menu or disclosure, and when they aren’t. It will tally the percentage of menus and disclosures printed, and the dollars per retail unit earned with and without a Menu. This holds the Manager accountable to using the menu and shows the dealer how much money they are losing when one is not used during the sale.

F&I Analyzer: This is a traditional F&I report that breaks out all F&I Income by New, Used, and Total. The report will also include product penetrations, and product profit averages by individual, dealership, or group.

Salesperson or Sales Manager Recap report: This report should breakout Gross profit earned on the deal including sales price, invoice or amount that the dealership has the unit in inventory for, trade value and actual cash value of trade. This should be just one of several that evaluate the Front End or sales profit.

Advantages to Web-Based Reporting

The internet has brought numerous technology efficiencies to the automotive business. Web-based reporting is one of those services that wouldn’t be possible if it were not for the power of the internet. Trying to share reporting information wasn’t practical when it was stored on individual computer hard drives.

Web-based Dealer reporting allows for a central place to store, evaluate, and share the data. This way the report can be accessed anywhere that a user has internet access. The software provider can store and access data from numerous dealers and then update and share to other dealers or agents from a central point. There is also flexibility of generating and saving the output. It can be generated as HTML, Word, Excel, or by PDF. This allows the user flexibility in how they print and use the data. Saving the information in excel, for example, allows the user the ability to form and shape the reporting data.

It is customary in the automotive industry for users to expect a simple PDF that they don’t personally have to adjust and align the report. That is usually easily done by the software provider, but sometimes it’s a little tricky since the report size can vary based on the size of the dealer group and number of products they display.

The ability to choose input variables, time periods, data sorting criteria, and output variables adds to the flexibility of Web-based dealer reporting. The user can select exactly how they want to filter the data. Whether it be by Group, Dealer, or Manager, time period, deal type, sale type, vehicle type, retail type, or product type.

Agent/Dealer involvement in ensuring data is correct

Custom reporting is not something that agents and dealers can have turned on and just walk away from without having some involvement in keeping the information current. Things change from month to month that can affect the report results. New users may be added, or new products might be added.

Of course, an agent or dealer should be able to count on the mapping process to populate to the correct field if the information doesn’t change, but there are certain items that only the dealer or user will know with certainty, as to where that piece of information should be mapped to. For example, if there is an aftermarket product added, only the Dealership will know where that product should go, whether it is a front end or back end profit item, and whether it is taxed.

Dealer reporting has come a long way with the institution of Web-based reporting. It has allowed the agent the ability to monitor the progress of their stores to create accountability, competition and tracking. An agent/dealer should expect accurate information from their provider, but not without some effort on the agent’s part.

There is much more to be gained from this tool, for the agency, as providers enhance their reporting application. The future of this product will bring better use of email, mobile, and custom applications. It will give the agent that embraces the tool consistent access to their dealers results, comparisons and analysis.

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An Interview with David Trinder, CEO of F&I Administration Solutions

Agent Entrepreneur had the opportunity to catch up with David Trinder, CEO of F&I Administration Solutions, about the technology that is influencing the industry. Trinder’s company is expanding the use of technology for general agents (GA), making things possible today that were not before. As agents, you have a tremendous opportunity with these new tools. Technology plays a major role in the business world today, and most importantly, the way business will be done in the future. The agents who embrace it will separate themselves from the rest.

Tell us about your company? And, specifically, what products do you offer and how can they add value to/for the GA?

Trinder: We deliver the leading solution for the administration of F&I products including VSC, GAP, PPM, Appearance Protection, Theft and more. Our SCS Express offers a turnkey solution for quickly setting up products, dealers and rates so that they can be eRated, eContracted and eRemitted via the private-labeled DAP dealer portal or through any of the top 15 menu and other dealer systems available today. We also facilitate data transfer so contracts can be transmitted to multiple providers and/or carriers that an agent typically works with. Further, since SCS is a complete administration system, should an agent want to administer products, this solution will deliver to their every need.

Looking back over the past few years, how has this changed?

Trinder: Technology has changed everything. A few years ago, it was too expensive for an agent to consider taking on product administration. Now, with the internet and our SaaS model, not only is it affordable, but it will make you more connected to dealers and more efficient than many of the top administration companies are today.

As an industry expert, what advice can you give our GA readers to make themselves more valuable to their dealerships?

Trinder: Embrace technology. Don’t let yourself or your dealer get left behind. It is mainly through the use of technology that dealers will save costs while growing their business.

What products do you see performing well right now? What products do you think will be “Hot” in the future?

Trinder: Over the last year or so, all product sales have risen. In particular, we see an increase in products that offer broader coverage in a single transaction, either because they are presented as a package via a menu or other eRating tool, or because they are innovatively packaged into a single product with multiple benefits. An example of this would be a combination of Dent, Ding, Appearance Protection and Windshield protection into a single product that is branded uniquely. Also growing are products that provide customers more flexible choices in terms and coverages that are offered. An example would be VSCs that are sold for 37 or 49 months, rather than the traditional 36, 48, 60, 72 months thereby giving the F&I Manager more ways to tailor the product to a particular customer’s budget and needs.

F&I Admin has been at the forefront of mobile technology. Can you give our readers an update on your current mobile apps and any apps you have coming? How will this help the independent agent?

Trinder: Independent agents who are selling products that are managed on an F&I Admin system will soon be able to receive real time data on dealer sales volumes and much more. A GA can do a much better job on a dealer visit if they know how many quotes were done and contracts signed by that dealer that day, week or month.

Looking back over the last 5 years, how has the industry changed and how do you see it changing in the future?

Trinder: Five years ago, with the exception of the DMS and electronic credit apps, technology played a minor part in the F&I office. Now there are sales tools and many other systems that add great value to the process. Look for better integration of products in the future and expect data at your fingertips through mobile devices.

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Don’t Be Camera Shy…

As an agent, a dealer or an F&I manager, don’t sell yourself short. Technology can make you even better.

Cameras can act as your trainer, your coach, your compliance manager, your attorney and more. Think about the different ways a camera can impact your store and the overall profitability of a dealership.

As an F&I manager, well a true professional F&I manager, you should look at your position as any other professional would look at their job – not just a job, a career. If you step back and look at a doctor, a lawyer, a professional sports player or any similar profession, they just don’t walk into an operating room, court house or sports arena without rehearsing the job they are going to perform. Most likely, they won’t enter any of those areas without looking for constructive criticism prior to performing their job.

So, why as an F&I manager, do we feel we don’t have to practice? A football player doesn’t walk onto the field each Sunday without any practice during the week, without watching their competitors AND themselves on video. They practice, they self-critique and they look for a coach or teammate to give them feedback.

By having a camera as part of your delivery process as an F&I manager, it allows you to watch your own videos or those of your co-workers. Now, you have a chance to coach yourself and learn from others at the same time. You can learn what you may have missed in your presentation and how you could respond differently the next time that situation or objection arises. Think, if you add just one product per delivery to the mix, the difference that one product would make in the bottom line profits for you and the dealership.

As a dealer, why wouldn’t you want to have the opportunity to defend and protect your dealership? Time and time again, we have heard from dealers that they don’t want cameras in the F&I office because they think their F&I numbers will drop or the F&I manager will quit.

First off, your numbers will not drop, unless of course your F&I manager has been selling products unethically. The good news is, your F&I manager isn’t really making you money compared to the risk you are taking.

A finance manager who fears the camera being installed will most likely quit as soon as you announce the cameras. We see that about 20 percent of the time. The other 80 percent of the time, we find that as the dollar-per-car increases, more products are sold and customers are much more satisfied! Believe it or not, you gain credibility when you tell the customer they will be videotaped. After all, why would a finance manager lie to them under camera, right?!

The true bonus to videotaping in F&I is how quickly customer complaints get handled. As long as you have professionally trained your F&I managers, and they are following the steps of a true income development trainer, you can turn to the video during a customer complaint relating to F&I.

When that Better Business Bureau Letter lands on your desk, or the attorney calls threatening a lawsuit, you have the ability to say, “Great, let me check the videotape of the delivery. I assure you that if something happened that is not in compliance with our strict ethical guidelines, we will make it right immediately. We take this very seriously and videotape our F&I managers’ transactions in order to make sure we can train them to be compliant, keeping the satisfaction of our clients as the top priority. Allow me to review that, I will get back with you.”

I can’t tell you how many times we have sent a video to an attorney and have never heard another word. That is certainly much less time consuming and less costly than the attorney you would have needed to hire or the time you would have placed into that call.

Let’s recap the benefits so far: Self-coaching, increased penetrations, increased dollar-per-car, instantaneous compliance when needed, and a defense attorney. Wow, not much to argue with there!

Now, the next step you need to take is training. Your product representative, commonly known as your agent, will often take the responsibility of training and increasing your production. The major problem with accomplishing this task for most people is time. This includes time away from the sales floor and limited availability by the agent responsible.

This is how training usually goes:

Agent: So, it looks like your service contract penetration has actually gone backwards since my last visit. What do you think is going on?

F&I manager: Well, I tried what you suggested and it just doesn’t work. I am doing worse than I was before.

Agent: Did you do it exactly as I told you?

F&I manager: Yes, exactly as you said. The customer doesn’t even listen.

The reality of the situation is the F&I manager either never did what was asked, or didn’t follow the entire set of instructions given, leaving the customer more confused and aggravated than before.

Install the camera, don’t be camera shy, and now look at the conversation:

Agent: So, it looks like your service contract penetration has actually gone backwards since my last visit, what do you think is going on?

F&I manager: Well, I tried what you suggested and it just doesn’t work. I am doing worse than I was before.

Agent: That is interesting. I typically find that the steps we worked on last month work very well. Let’s do this, let’s watch a few random videos together. Maybe your customers are different than others I am used to. We can adapt your presentation to make you more profitable.

In this situation, the F&I manager never did what was asked nor followed the entire set of instructions given. The difference is that now, they can no longer tell you they are doing something they aren’t. But if they are trying, they just may need a little more training. Think about how much time would be saved by not allowing the F&I manager to have the excuse that they tried and it doesn’t work.

Total the full equation: Self-coaching, increased penetrations, increased dollar-per-car, instantaneous compliance when needed, a defense attorney, time saver (no more “I did that, it doesn’t work”), effective trainer, more consistency and compliance to a process. Did I mention, you also make more money and have more satisfied customers? Yes, you are winning.

Are you still camera shy?

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