The Emergence of the Digital Dealership
Over the years I’ve helped numerous sales and service departments evolve to meet the needs of today’s tech savvy digital shoppers. While none have been bold enough to launch a completely digital sales process, it’s certainly on their radar as most of them realize they will have to change in order to survive.
So why isn’t F&I evolving?
Want to make enemies in an F&I department, just try and change something. As a matter of fact, the mere mention of changing the F&I process to provide a better consumer experience is met with resistance the likes of which has not been seen since Kodak chose to ignore digital photography.
Once upon a time a “Kodak moment” defined a sentimental, charming or interesting point in time, worth capturing in a photograph. Today it describes businesses that fail to adapt to changes in their industry and fall from a dominant position into bankruptcy. The irony is that Kodak invented the digital camera in 1975, but chose not to pursue it for fear of cannibalizing their film business. Kodak was right, digital photography would kill film and their refusal to change allowed competitors to crush them by providing user-friendly digital solutions.
Will F&I have a Kodak moment or will it evolve?
F&I managers love to trumpet the fact that their departments are, on a per square foot basis the most profitable in the dealership. NADA substantiated this in 2014 when they reported that while F&I only generates 3.6% of the average dealerships revenue, it produces 22.9% of their profit. No dealership can afford to lose this profit centre and since many F&I managers refuse to change, they are forced to drag customers kicking and screaming through a process they hate.
Consumers want change and if you don’t deliver, someone else will
Ernst and Young: The Future of Automotive Retail Report
Deloitte: The foundation of automotive retail
Digital Disruption: Be the disruptor or be disrupted
Sonic One Experience and Lexus Plus listened to the negative feedback and responded with customer centric sales models that promote the fact that you no longer have to visit an F&I department in order to buy a car. These companies are giving people choices that are disrupting the traditional sales model and will eventually force conventional dealerships to adapt to in order to remain competitive. Will a disruptor force your dealership to respond by building a new sales model and eliminate your F&I department or will you take control and disrupt your old model to develop a superior one?
Omni-Channel F&I is the solution
Imagine a customer centric F&I process that increases profitability by offering transparency, eliminating No T/O’s and shortening the time customers spend in dealerships. Omni-Channel F&I does just that by delivering equally effective presentations across all channels of communication (i.e. in person, on the phone, via text, email, video or by screen sharing).
Digital menus go mobile
Omni-Channel F&I only requires a digital menu and a willingness of F&I managers to go mobile. Once they do, their presentations can be delivered anytime, anywhere and be viewed on any device. They can share videos, seamlessly link to websites and document share. They can change amortizations, interest rates and down payments on the fly. Omni-Channel F&I is completely transparent, engaging and needs based. Digital technologies like GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts and Join.Me allow presentations to be delivered to customers while they’re in the comfort of their home, office or anywhere. Properly applied it will change the perception of the F&I process, lower resistance, increase sales and profitability.
Trust + Transparency + Saving Time = Sales
Consumers use three key factors when determining where to buy their next car: Trust, Transparency and a respect for their Time. Omni-Channel F&I delivers all three. Leaders must think less about improving their F&I process and more about reinventing it. Omni-Channel F&I is the simplest and most effective way to avoid being caught in next Kodak moment.
Jim De Luca
Digital Road to a Sale Inc.