As you may know, the F&I Department is perhaps the most rapidly-changing area of the dealership. From e-contracts to digital menus, you might be asking yourself “How can I use this new technology to enhance customer experience?”
Well, our guest today has a few suggestions. In this segment, Jim Fitzpatrick speaks with Mazen Letayf, Associate Vice President of Product Management for Cox Automotive Dealertrack to discuss ways to reduce the amount of time it takes for customers to buy cars at your dealership.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So talk to us about this new platform. Tell us about Dealertrack’s new F&I software platform. Sounds pretty exciting.
Mazen Letayf: You know, Dealertrack was an innovative party in the online credit application space. Actually, I really think it was the first auto FinTech, even before FinTech was a thing. We created this system that allowed dealers to move away from the fax machine and fax and credit apps, and instead move to a normal online process. And so we’re looking to do the same thing now in rethinking how a deal is structured. And helping both consumers and dealers better transact with one another and connect with lenders in a way that’s seamless. It’s one platform for all three parties to be able to transact in a way that hasn’t been done before.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, sure. So why is this new platform so important?
Mazen Letayf: I think this is a different approach to the way we think through the deal. Instead of having one thing done in a silo, and done really well, for example, the credit app, or the aftermarket selling process, etc. This allows the dealers, the lenders, and the customers to come together in one spot to help the transaction get done faster.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Yeah, for sure. What does the rollout plan look like?
Mazen Letayf: So uniFI is already live on about 9,000 dealers or so. And we are planning to be substantially complete by the end of 2019.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Wow. Okay. So how is Dealertrack uniFI helping to connect the online to in-store process?
Mazen Letayf: Glad you asked that. Actually, this is one of the strengths of the platform. A consumer can start the deal online. In this day and age, who doesn’t right? When was the last time you looked for a car by starting at the dealership? It’s sort of the same process you go through buying something at Amazon, right? And customers are expecting that.
But this is an important purchase for customers, so they still wanna experience the car. They do wanna go to the dealership, it’s just they want to wait less. So the idea is you help the process start online. They can look at the car, experiment with some payment structures, etc., and then when they arrive at the dealership, the dealer knows who they are. They know what car they looked at, what payment structure they’re interested in, etc.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And talk to us about how this will better the experience for dealers, lenders, and consumers.
Mazen Letayf: I think this is an example where everyone wins because it’s a single platform, and it connects the deal process, and it’s open integration to all dealerships in one flow. It allows the consumer to come in to be known by the dealer, for the dealer to actually be able to help structure the transaction, and finally to be able to contract with a lender in one seamless experience.
Jim Fitzpatrick: So it sounds like at the end of the day, it really saves all parties a whole lot of time during that process. Because obviously one of the number one complaints of consumers today with working with car dealers is it takes too long. And the bottleneck usually happens in the F&I office, right?
Mazen Letayf: You know, it’s funny, I think sometimes the dealerships get a bad rap in the sense that consumers may have the impression that the dealer is having them wait on purpose. But that isn’t the case. They’re dealing with multiple systems. Especially when there’s quite a few people on a busy day. And so this really helps keep you in one system so you can do the entire deal-structuring and the aftermarket selling in one spot. So you have to spend less time going between system, and more time focusing on actually serving your customer.
Jim Fitzpatrick: And that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Well, Mazen, I wanna thank you very much for joining us on CBT to share this good news about Dealertrack’s new F&I platform. We’re excited to see how it’s working. You say you’re in 9,000 dealerships right now, so you’re halfway through all the new car franchises that are out there, right?
Mazen Letayf: We are on our way. There is quite a bit more to go. But we’ll be substantially done by the end of 2019.
Jim Fitzpatrick: Sure. Well, congratulations on your success with the plan. Hopefully, we can have you back in a few months to see how it’s doing.
Mazen Letayf: Thank you, and looking forward to it.