How Dealertrack is Creating a Seamless Car Buying Experience for Customers – Cheryl Miller, Sr. VP


Recently, the CBT Automotive Network was on-location at NADA 2020 in beautiful Las Vegas where host Jim Fitzpatrick spoke with Cheryl Miller, Senior Vice President at Dealertrack F&I Solutions.


Jim Fitzpatrick: We’re at the 2020 NADA convention here in Las Vegas. We are catching up with Cheryl Miller, who’s the Senior Vice President of Dealertrack F&I Solutions. Welcome, Cheryl. We’re so glad to have you here on the show.

Cheryl Miller: Thank you very much. Glad to be here.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. You must be a very busy young lady. F&I Solutions is something that’s near and dear to a lot of dealers hearts. Especially with digital retailing, I should say, right around the corner.

Cheryl Miller: Well, it’s just the whole process. I mean, you’re in a situation where the dealer, and the application, and the consumer, and getting approvals-

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Cheryl Miller: Is the heart and soul of the dealer’s business-

Jim Fitzpatrick: There’s no question.

Cheryl Miller: I mean, if you’re in a situation where you’re selling new and used cars, the majority of all new cars require financing.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Cheryl Miller: So that connection for the dealer to the lender is very important.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s huge.

Cheryl Miller: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It really is. As more car shoppers move online, as we’re just talking about. What’s holding dealers back from capitalizing on this growing market segment? Because that’s really where the future is with dealers. Everything’s online.

Cheryl Miller: Absolutely. That’s what we’re focused on at Dealertrack. The whole online to in-store experience. You want to make sure … the consumer is doing more and more online. They’re doing the research online, they’re getting their information, they’re picking their dealer, they’re really trying to even find the car, and maybe even find financing. That workflow, how it goes from online to in-store and then connecting. So that when they do walk into the F&I office or they do walk on that showroom, is very important. So that’s where we’re focused on that workflow. So that the dealer can help make that connection to the consumer when they come in.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right. Which the consumer is demanding for dealers, that they have all of this information available to them. And that that is a seamless process. I mean people are saying, “Well why can I buy a big screen TV from Amazon. They know exactly who I am and what I like and what I don’t like. Lo and behold, the TV is there the next day, just what I ordered.” They want that Amazon approach.

Cheryl Miller: They do and they’re demanding it. I mean, Amazon has really changed the whole retailing experience-

Jim Fitzpatrick: It has.

Cheryl Miller: And how the consumer’s feeling about it. But I will tell you that our research really indicates that the consumer still wants to come-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Do they?

Cheryl Miller: Into the store to finish.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, sure.

Cheryl Miller: But, buying a TV online is a-

Jim Fitzpatrick: Different than a car.

Cheryl Miller: Exactly. So they still want to feel and look at the car. Make sure it has the equipment that they want. They really want to just make sure that if I’m doing my work online. That when you get into the dealership, you know who I am.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. That’s right.

Cheryl Miller: Because I’m still going to finish my purchase in-store.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Right, right. We talked to a dealer the other day and he said, “You watch these Carvana commercials where the person picks up an app, and shops on the app, and then buys the car, and it’s delivered on a flat bed or what have you.” And he said, “We’re trying to gear up.” In fact, he was one of your clients at Cox Automotive. He said, “We’re doing everything we can to gear up for that day. We just don’t know when that day is going to happen. We don’t know if it’s going to be 2020 or 2030. But we know that there’s going to be a day that the majority of vehicles will be sold that way.”

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s kind of what you guys are doing at Dealertrack. Helping dealers navigate that.

Cheryl Miller: Absolutely. From the perspective … I mean, you see all the different business models that are coming out from a dealer. To your point around Carvana. But the traditional dealership model is still the heart and soul of the business.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Oh, I know. I know.

Cheryl Miller: We see a lot of our dealer partners, really trying to be progressive and think out of the box. To your point, really preparing for the future. At Dealertrack, we’re trying to work hand in hand with our dealers to watch that movement, to provide solutions that they may need, to really work into the future.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Gotcha. So many dealers are concerned about this area. Because as you know, F&I’s kind of the last frontier for dealer to make any money. When they hear, “Oh, this might be going online.” It’s important that they partner with companies that has the knowledge to navigate down this. Because they don’t want to lose that F&I income. If anything, they want to grow the F&I income.

Cheryl Miller: Absolutely. Educating the consumer about their options, their choices. Wanting to make sure that the consumer really understands the importance of aftermarket products. If we look across Cox Automotive in the way that we participate online to the in-store process. I said this earlier, it’s about the dealer workflow. Really trying to ensure that they have the tools at their fingertips to provide the consumer with what they need. And that helps their profitability.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It does. Yeah, for sure. Talk to us a little bit about the new enhancements that Dealertrack’s debuting at NADA.

Cheryl Miller: Yeah. So we’ve been very focused on a couple of things. So first, talked about the workflow. A lot of our dealers are saying, “Hey, my CRM is very important to me. Help us be better integrated into our CRM.” It’s where my customer base lives. So we’ve been very focused on creating tighter integrations into our CRM. That’s one thing.

Cheryl Miller: The second thing is, we’re very focused on digital contracting. Dealers are like, “I need to be efficient. I need to be effective.” It’s important to the lending base, as well. I mean, makes the seamless interaction, there’s more verification, the rules around it. It really helps the dealer from a contracts and transit perspective. And it helps the lender create faster funding for their dealer partners.

Cheryl Miller: Then the third thing is, we’re very focused on new partnerships. We’re an open platform at Dealertrack and we want to make sure that we’re providing the dealer with what he needs or she needs at the dealership level. So we’ve been focused, we’ve announced a new partnership with Darwin. We’ve announced a new partnership with NCC and we’ve announced a new partnership with StoneEagle F&I.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow.

Cheryl Miller: All about really bringing the dealer what the dealer needs at that dealership.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s fantastic. I would imagine that you’re open to new possibilities and partnerships moving forward into 2020.

Cheryl Miller: Absolutely. I mean, our dealers are so important to us. We think every day about what they need. How we provide that need, whether it’s through definitely our own Cox Automotive products or important partnerships that they need. Will continue to be our focus in 2020.

Jim Fitzpatrick: The F&I department is such that it’s not going away.

Cheryl Miller: Oh, no.

Jim Fitzpatrick: It’s going to be a part of today’s environment, as well as 10 years from now when there is a lot more digital retailing taking place. F&I’s going to be in the middle of it, bringing all those elements together.

Cheryl Miller: Absolutely. I mean, that’s where the dealer makes his or her money.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Cheryl Miller: Aftermarket products are important. The lending perspective is important.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right.

Cheryl Miller: And they want to be able to create that consumer relationship that brings the customer back into the dealerships.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s right. Which is what it’s all about nowadays.

Cheryl Miller: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: If we were not able to do that, we’re going to be in trouble down the road. Because only 30% of the customers that buy a car come back for service.

Cheryl Miller: That’s right.

Jim Fitzpatrick: That’s crazy. I know you guys have solutions for that, as well.

Cheryl Miller: Yep.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Cheryl Miller, Senior Vice President at Dealertrack F&I Solutions. Thank you so much for joining us on CBT News. It’s been very enlightening. For dealers that weren’t able to make it out to NADA this year, you missed a great show. But in addition, checkout Dealertrack F&I Solutions online. If you’ve got any questions about it, you want to learn more about the enhancements at Dealertrack. Call Cheryl Miller and her team.

Cheryl Miller: Absolutely.

Jim Fitzpatrick: She’ll be happy to help you. So thanks so much.

Cheryl Miller: Thank you for having me.

Jim Fitzpatrick: Thanks.