Tag Archive | "technology"

Financial Technology Company Aims at Simplifying Financing Process

MCLEAN, Va. — AutoGravity, a new financial technology company, is aiming to simplify the financing process by allowing customers to apply for financing straight from their phone.

According to the company, its platform is available as a smartphone application and mobile-responsive website that breaks the financing process into four steps. The first step is choosing a car. From there, the customer chooses a dealer, then applies for financing and lastly selects one of the multiple lenders that will deliver a personalized financing offer. The process, according to the company, should only take minutes.

“AutoGravity harnesses the full potential of cutting-edge smartphone technology,” said Andy Hinrichs, founder and CEO of AutoGravity. “Our app allows customers to take advantage of in-phone GPS, camera-based optical character recognition, fingerprint log-in and other mobile technology to be empowered by a digital car finance experience.”

The company further stated that its platform is not only beneficial to customers, but also to lenders and car dealers. Lenders on the platform, the company stated, gain increased access to customers —particularly Millennials. Car dealers gain increased showroom traffic, qualified leads and boosts to overall customer satisfaction, according to the company.

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American Financial Wins Diamond and Platinum Level for the 2016 Dealers’ Choice Awards

American Financial & Automotive Services, Inc. is honored to be the recipient of two 2016 Dealers’ Choice Awards. This F&I dealership development company received the Diamond level award in Compliance Training and Platinum level in F&I Training. This is the second year in a row that American Financial has been awarded in these two categories.

American Financial appreciates this recognition because it is the dealers and Auto Dealer Today and F&I Showroom readers who vote on the best industry providers. The voting criteria is divided into four categories: the product/service provided, customer support and service, overall value, and whether the dealer would recommend the provider.

Arden Hetland, President of American Financial, states, “Our main focus is to put the needs of our dealer partners first. The American Financial team strives to provide industry leading service and products. These awards are a great reflection on all of their hard work and dedication.”

Centered at the core of American Financial’s offerings are customized in-dealership development, the MasterTechTM F&I product suite, the Automotive Training Academy (ATA), F&I University (FIU), and Compliance Programs.

FIU provides cutting-edge F&I curriculum and online continuing education for today’s business manager. FIU is also at the forefront of digital solutions to streamline the business office by offering training on tablet technology and benefits analysis software.

American Financial has created a program to help navigate dealerships through industry regulations and policies. The web-based Compliance Management Program is customized to complement the procedures and functions utilized in your dealership. In addition, American Financial has developed a compliance officer certification course that arms your dealership with the resources, tools, and expertise your compliance officer needs.

For more information on American Financial, please visit www.AFASinc.com.

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6 Hidden Features on LinkedIn You Should Take Advantage Of

LinkedIn is an everyday go-to tool for most people in business, reports Inc. Ironically, even though we use it so often and have for years, most of us usually stick to the same patterns of searching for contacts, relying on the same profile picture we’ve used for years, and waiting to get messages from other people. To get more out of the social network, here are a few power user tips to create some new momentum.

1. Sign up for the ProFinder

Ed Brancheau, an SEO Expert at Goozleology, says an easy way for freelancers and consultants to find gigs is to offer services through the new LinkedIn Pro Finder tool. It’s a quick way to pitch services to new clients.

2. Use the correct image size for sponsored content

Zaki Usman, the CEO at InterQ, told me about a useful tip for sponsored content. When you format this content, you have to insert an image. LinkedIn recommends an image size of 1200 x 627 with an aspect ratio of 1.91:1. If you don’t follow this guideline, Usman says the content won’t look right on a mobile device and people will ignore it.

3. Trigger automated posts from your blog

Paul Dzielinski, the Senior Vice President at Beach Re, told me about a trick he uses with LinkedIn. If you use the site If This, Then That, you can trigger an automated post on LinkedIn whenever you post a new blog entry. He says this has led to people finding his content and also asking for a connection. Just look for the recipe that generates a LinkedIn post automatically.

4. Use Canva to create a professional background

Most social media experts stress the importance of visuals because of how they draw attention to your profile. Josh Rosenzweig, the Founder and CEO at WibniLabs, says he uses Canva to create these images because you can purchase a professional image for only $1, format it according to the 1400 x 425 size requirements, and save it.

5. Search for second connections

LinkedIn has a powerful search box, but some users forget about some of the advanced functions. Brandon Howard from All My Web Needs says you can search only for people who has a second connection to your current contacts, then add keywords like “marketing” to limit the results. He says, once you find good leads through the second connection, you can explain how you know the first connection.

6. Include contact info in your background

Brancheau from Goozleology says one power user tip is to create a custom background for LinkedIn that has your contact information. Even with a free account, you can catch people with a visual reminder on how to contact you. Just make sure the image is 1400 x 425 pixels. Otherwise, people won’t see the text.

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6 Things Every Entrepreneur Needs in a Great Smartphone

Like most hungry entrepreneurs, Jason Saltzman is constantly on-the-go, managing a growing team as well as a thriving business, reports Entrepreneur. As the founder and CEO of New York City-based shared workspace Alley, he needs a smartphone to keep up with him. So do you.

In this video, Saltzman outlines his six must-have features for any great smartphone:

  1. Long-lasting battery/fast charging
  2. Size
  3. Water resistance/durability
  4. An always-updating platform (like Android)
  5. Expandable memory
  6. A great camera

“Things change, schedules change, you need to completely stay on top of things,” Saltzman says. “Having the phone with the right technology will help you do that and help you run your day.”

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AutoTech Protect Launches Technology-Focused Service Contract in 47 States

CARMEL, Ind. — AutoTech Protect, the first true technology-focused service contract in the F&I industry, has officially been released. It is designed to cover the potentially highly expensive technology components that today’s vehicles are often equipped with, such as touch screens, GPS/Navigation systems, Bluetooth components, and interactive radio systems such as Apple CarPlay® and Android Auto® (for a full list of coverage, please visit autotechprotect.com).

AutoTech Protect is designed as an option for dealerships to offer to consumers who won’t purchase an exclusionary (“bumper-to-bumper”) service contract, typically because of price or payment constraints. Because AutoTech Protect doesn’t cover items such as the engine and transmission, it can be offered at half the retail price of the lead exclusionary plan, yet dealerships can maintain similar margins, while consumers receive modern technology coverage.

“We don’t envision this as being the primary service contract sold in the F&I office,” said Shawn McCool, Founder of AutoTech Protect. “It is designed to be offered after a customer has rejected the lead service contract offering, rather than compete with it. Therefore, if a consumer purchases AutoTech Protect, it is truly “found” revenue for the dealership, without overlap or cannibalization of their lead service contract plan. And, data from our 15 store pilot confirms this. The lead service contract provider’s volume was not affected. Yet, over 15% of the customers that declined the lead provider’s plan purchased AutoTech Protect, again resulting in “found” revenue for the dealership.”

AutoTech Protect is fully insured like most service contracts, and is available to both franchise as well as independent dealers. It is offered primarily through the agent model, and unlike some other F&I product providers, AutoTech Protect is being offered as a “protected territory” agent model — the company limits the number of agents who can market the product in a given geographic area. This approach is rather unique in this segment of the F&I product industry.

“This is a win-win-win for the consumers, dealers, and agents. AutoTech Protect provides our agents with another great product to market, and a potentially exclusively one, from their portfolio. And dealers now have a new opportunity to offer a cheaper alternative service contract to their customers that decided not to buy their lead exclusionary plan ,” said McCool. He continued,” It’s also great to have a product that helps overcome the ‘perceived quality’ issue, where consumers believe the vehicle they’re buying is so well-made, there is little chance of a mechanical breakdown. We focused on potentially expensive technology components to cover, and those are components consumers simply can’t maintain.”

AutoTech Protect is available for both new and used vehicles (up to 10 years old and 100,000 miles). Currently, the program is available in 47 states, with administration partner American Colonial Administration in Dublin, Ohio — a subsidiary of Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS) — and insurance partner Dealers Assurance Company (DAC), which is rated A- (excellent) by AM Best.

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Paper or Plastic: Which Works Best in F&I?

We have been working with several software providers over the last couple of years to develop training and better processes for several of the new electronic F&I presentation tools. We have also been testing and measuring results from different types of printed menus.

I am quite often asked which type of presentation media is the most effective. After extensive analysis of media performance over the last two years, it has become abundantly clear that what an F&I menu, iPad, tablet or on-screen program can do has been overstated and, in many ways, misunderstood in the marketplace.

What do customers prefer? Well, let’s turn to the results of the 2015 J.D. Power U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study. Now in its 29th year, the study is based on responses from 27,831 consumers who bought or leased a new vehicle in April or May 2015. It measures satisfaction with the sales experience among new-vehicle buyers.

The study calculates the buyer-satisfaction scores using four factors, in this order of importance: working out the deal, salesperson, delivery process and facility. Let’s take a look at how those factors feed into the use of electronic presentations.

Paper or Tablet?

According to the survey, when customers make it into the F&I office, they want to know what their F&I product options are, and they want to see it on some sort of product menu, whether paper or digital. The F&I manager should then explain the value of the product.

Overall, the close rates on all four of the products J.D. Power included — prepaid maintenance, extended warranty, tire/road hazard protection and interior/exterior sealant protection — were highest when the customer viewed the options on a paper brochure or menu.

For service contracts, the close rate was 32% with a paper brochure or menu. It was 29% with a computer screen and one point lower, at 28%, with verbal offers. For prepaid maintenance, interior and exterior sealant protection and tire and road hazard protection, the close rates were the same whether the dealership offered the products verbally or showed them on a computer screen.

F&I product sales also depend on the process, the study found. If the customer has a long wait between the time they agree to buy a vehicle and the time they meet the F&I manager, the customer may feel agitated before even stepping into the office.

The study found that the likelihood of customers purchasing another vehicle from a dealership depends partly on the pressure they felt from the store to buy F&I products on their previous sale. Only 10% of customers who felt too much pressure said they “definitely will” purchase from the same dealer again. For consumers who felt no pressure, however, 44% said they definitely will purchase from the same dealer in the future.

And the type of presentation matters. Too much pressure to buy F&I products resulted in lower penetration rates. For example, 18% of consumers who felt too much pressure to buy purchased tire and road hazard protection vs. 19% of consumers who felt some pressure and 21% of those who felt no pressure to buy.

Overall satisfaction among buyers who said the dealer applied too much pressure during the F&I process was 638 on a 1,000-point scale vs. 852 for those who experienced no pressure, according to the study.

It’s the Process

Based on what we’ve learned from real-world testing with a representative group of media forms in a wide range of real F&I offices, we have found that the menu or electronic device being used is , in many ways, less important than the person using it and the process they use to present it. Any media can be made to work to some extent, but none of them will do much by themselves.

What customers respond to best is a more modern “information provider” approach. Offering products in the most expedient and simple way is what the J.D. Power study suggests and it certainly has produced the best results in our testing.

We have found the keys to any successful process is to demonstrate three critical elements:

  1. It has to be easy or F&I managers won’t do it. And if it’s easy for the F&I manager, it’s easy for the customer as well.
  2. It has to be simple enough for the customer to easily absorb and understand immediately.
  3. It has to be fast, because customers don’t want to sit through long, drawn-out sales pitches and time-consuming processes. They want to know their options, choose what they want, and get on their way. A common complaint from customers is that the F&I process takes too long.

Whatever process or procedure that produces those key factors will be the most successful for your dealer clients.

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