Data from the Q4 2018 Cox Automotive Dealer Sentiment Index shows that U.S. auto dealers became more negative than positive in describing the fourth quarter market and this sentiment carries through to their outlook for the first quarter of 2019. Their concerns about the coming year include proposed auto tariffs, rising interest rates and declining profits.
Many of these key challenges come from factors beyond their control, but dealerships have the opportunity to make improvements that will benefit them now and in the future, while they ride out the current economic conditions.
At a time when profits are being squeezed from multiple directions, it makes sense to look for solutions that save time and money. For many dealerships, a great place to start is the F&I process.
For most dealerships today, the problem isn’t a lack of technology – it’s a lack of connectivity between technology systems. If completing a deal means switching back and forth between screens and re-keying information in multiple places (the average is six or more systems per dealership), you’re costing yourself time, risking errors, and providing a less-than-ideal experience for your customers.
Integrated functionality between products used for different deal stages streamlines and speeds up your workflow. It also helps you transition customers from deals started online, move them through the showroom, and smoothly segue to F&I. The time you save can be used to create better rapport with customers and improve their experience at the dealership.
Think about the little inefficiencies in your process that add up to create extra work and waste time. We’ve already mentioned repeating entry of the same data, but it’s a bigger problem than it might sound.
We know from Cox Automotive 2018 Car Buyer Journey statistics that more half of customers begin their auto purchase online. There’s no faster way to start off their in-store visit on the wrong foot than by asking them and re-entering the same information they already submitted online.
Every time you re-type data, you risk an error that can slow down the deal process or even lead to a compliance violation as you move on to the contract, financing and after-market options portion of the deal. With an integrated process, you have more time for nurturing customer relationships and pursuing additional sales opportunities.
Last but certainly not least, F&I process improvements can help your dealership optimize deals for maximum profitability and create time to work more deals. Technology-enabled presentations can help sell more F&I add-ons in a low-pressure way. And you can get funded fasted using digital contracts, which will increase your cash flow.
By optimizing your F&I processes now, you’ll put your dealership in position to make the most of current opportunities and truly excel when market conditions shift in a more positive direction.