Here is an experiment: in your next auto industry conversation, bring up blockchain technology, autonomous vehicles, IoT, connected cars and anything to do with the cloud…and see how energized the dialogue gets. But bring up digital retailing or mobile technologies and…well, that is so ‘last year.’ But is it?  

Certainly, the former innovations are things we should all be aware of and following scrupulously as they will have major implications for the future of our industry. But, as we are all living in the here and now, there are some basic, often ignored, ‘this generation’ digital technologies that can have a hugely positive impact on dealership processes.  One of these is mobile technology which, while deeply embedded in almost every consumer’s palm, surprisingly, is not being leveraged in the dealership as much as you think it might (or should) be. We feel it just may hold the key to solving one of the most consistent challenges to customer satisfaction: lengthy transaction times.

Why So Long?

In spite of over two decades of innovation in online automotive retailing, dealership technology efficiencies have failed to significantly shorten the in-dealership start-to-finish transaction times. This remains puzzling because logic would suggest otherwise.

So, what’s the disconnect? According to a survey of auto dealerships fielded by eLEND Solutions in late 2016, unengaged wait time in the dealership outpaces negotiation as the biggest consumer pain point: nearly 60 percent of dealers surveyed indicated that wasted consumer time is potentially their biggest barrier to higher CSI scores.

The survey also revealed that most dealers’ transaction times are significantly higher than what they consider ideal: nearly 80 percent said that two hours or under represents the ideal start-to-finish transaction time, but only 42 percent reported that they are achieving that.

Ideal Start-to-Finish TimePercent Overall Achieving
Under 1 Hour36%11%
Under 2 Hours79*% 42*%

We are firm believers that reducing or eliminating process bottlenecks, inefficiencies and other profit leaks in the in-store selling process through a digitally connected car-buying experience is key to streamlining the sales process.  One way to do this is to equip the sales team with mobile devices and technologies that progress the sale from the minute the customer walks into the dealership.  Everything from viewing inventory and valuing a trade, to pre-qualifications and structuring the deal, can be expedited with mobile technologies — streamlining the entire process and providing 100 percent transparency to the buyer.

Today, mobile devices and their technologies have become the gateway to the marketplace.  So commonplace, in fact, that at a recent conference I heard them referred to as “the remote control to life itself.”   So, why, if most people, including dealers, are using mobile and touch-screen technologies in their daily lives, aren’t there more dealerships embracing and implementing them in their sales and F&I processes?

To dig deeper, we fielded a survey specifically around mobile devices and transaction times. The results were, in some cases, surprising. For example, far fewer dealerships than we had anticipated are actually using mobile devices in store to enhance the Sales and F&I process. Of the dealerships surveyed, only 24 percent are using mobile tablets in the Sales department and even fewer, 17 percent, are using them in the F&I department. That being said, over a third are actively considering using mobile devices in Sales and F&I.

However, of dealerships not already using mobile devices, a whopping 60 percent say they simply will not even consider adopting them in their dealerships. Why? The number one reason cited is ‘Cost,’ followed by ‘staff/management resistance to change’ and ‘undefined ROI’.

What are the reasons you are not considering the use of mobile tablets in your dealership?  
55%Cost
45% Staff / Management resistant to change
39%Undefined ROI
19%Sales team turnover
16%Can’t see the benefits

 

These data points have a certain dissonance…. First of all, regarding cost: while the average tablet is around $400, the time saved by shaving even just one hour from the sales/transaction process could create enough productivity ‘saves’ and incremental profit to easily cover the cost of a tablet in a single day.  Assuming ROI will become defined over time, that leaves “resistance to change” as the primary reason why most dealers aren’t using mobile tablets.  This is probably not a surprise to anybody.  

But dealerships who are already using mobile devices acknowledge the benefits and report that the two biggest are speeding up the process (44%) and increasing customer satisfaction (39%) – both of which correlate closely to an increase in revenue and profits.

What do you imagine the greatest benefits of using tablets in your dealership could be? Speeding up the process is number one!

Ranking:

#1Speeds up the process
#2 Increases customer satisfaction
#3Improves dealership efficiency/consistency in the process
#4Makes dealership personnel jobs easier
#5 Increases selling prices and profits

 

Interestingly, dealers not currently using mobile devices also indicated that one of the top potential benefits would be “speeding up the sales process and improved CSI”.

Mobile devices (smartphones or tablets) and their technologies offer many benefits that can positively impact the dealership’s bottom line. For dealers really focused on how customers want to go through the process the benefits are too clear to ignore: for the store – an accelerated process that improves speed, accuracy, closing ratios, profitability, and the customer’s experience.  And for the GM – accountability, control, speed and simplicity.  

So, while it is always engaging to spend time learning about next generation technologies, my hope is that dealerships take a step back so they can take a step forward: continue to focus on ‘this generation’ technologies – devices they are already familiar with and easily use in their day to day life – because they may just hold the key to solving the transaction time challenge!

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