As automobile dealers are slowly adopting e-contracting, the industry is still perplexed by the lack of implementation of such a beneficial technology. Most F&I managers are still under the impression that the benefits don’t outweigh the usage inconveniences. Currently, e-contracting only allows the user to process one form, the bank contract.
The other 15-20 forms, depending on the requirements of the deal, still have to be processed using an impact printer under an antiquated system. This process leaves the dealer’s F&I managers and office managers, lenders and F&I product providers still juggling a lot of paperwork.
According to Gerry White, senior vice president of sales and national accounts for COINdata, the purpose of e-contracting is currently defined as “speeding up funding for the auto dealer while streamlining the process of retail installment contract/lease agreement submission.” Even when e-contracting is utilized by the dealer, he still is required to submit as many as 12 additional ancillary documents to the lender as part of the funding package.
“Considering that dealers only have well-established legacy technologies available for printing paper forms, and there is little industry pressure to change the technology offerings, the future of e-documents is further away than we might think,” White said.
From the customer’s point of view, the F&I process is tedious and slow. After an industry average of more than two hours of demonstrating and negotiating the vehicle purchase, customers can become defensive and impatient while having to spend another hour in the F&I office. The time spent in F&I should be the most valuable time for the dealer to earn back profits.
In addition, today’s F&I managers are required by law to be very thorough with full disclosure and ensure that the customer understands all financing obligations and insurance products. Currently, many dealers are still utilizing a paper menu selling system, an impact printer for paper forms and carbonless copy paper for obtaining the signatures required on all the forms.
COINdata has developed a system that not only incorporates the entire deal jacket into e-documents, but its new docuPAD system also creates an interactive, multimedia selling environment for the customer and F&I manager. The docuPAD resembles an HD desktop writing tablet that can display all brochures and information sheets electronically including multimedia product presentations. During the menu presentation, customers can take part in customizing their own product package while the docuPAD automatically recalculates the correct monthly payment amount.
“The docuPAD’s interactive sales presentation allows customers to participate in the transaction and inquire with a better understanding of how to protect their vehicles,” White said. The system’s stylus pens allow F&I managers and customers to highlight, draw, make notes on the screen and capture electronic signatures. With this system, customers feel in charge, while credibility is established for the F&I manager. The system creates consistency of F&I product knowledge and presentation for F&I managers. When menu selling is completed, the docuPAD begins to electronically present all the required forms in the deal jacket. Required signature areas on each form are highlighted on the screen for electronic signature capture. An accuracy feature is built into each form so no form can be printed without notifying the user that the form is incomplete.
Required compliance features are also highlighted for customer understanding. All of the customer’s copies of the transaction documents are laser printed within a two-minute timeframe, adding speed to the process. The entire transaction is digitally recorded, which provides the dealership with an audit trail and reporting of valuable metrics of the transaction.
According to White, customers have responded positively to the system by purchasing more F&I products and giving dealers increased CSI scores. “The docuPAD system has reduced the average time in the F&I office by about a third. In addition, the customer’s perception of time has decreased due to their active involvement in the transaction,” White said.
“The paperless vehicle sales transaction that has been pleaded for during the past decade in the auto industry is still out of reach for dealers in 2008. The hope that e-contracting would bring a paperless process has resulted in only one form being processed electronically … the retail installment contract. Unfortunately, it is limited to only a few lenders,” White said.
COINdata’s founders are promoting the docuPAD as the closest technology to a paperless process. The docuPAD system allows the dealer to keep all of the processed deal jackets stored on the system’s hard drive for recall when needed. COINdata is prepared to utilize the docuPAD technology with RouteOne for e-contracting when the RouteOne system is fully functional. Until that time, docuPAD users can easily process a generic contract and all the required ancillary documents including the dealer’s custom forms.
Currently, the docuPAD technology is being utilized by many dealerships in the Atlanta and Orlando markets. “We are only scratching the surface of what this technology means to the dealer and industry right now,” White said. “We are pioneering new ground with docuPAD that requires change by the F&I user and a commitment from the dealer to champion change. The demand is high for docuPAD, but unfortunately our supply will be limited due to growing a new company and the development of the technology. We are only marketing docuPAD in Georgia and Florida markets presently.”
COINdata was founded by industry veterans from COIN Dealership Systems, the company that pioneered dealership F&I systems in 70s, 80s and early 90s. They developed and made popular such applications as Desking, sales graphics, credit application processing and an electronic forms library.
“F&I technology and applications have changed little since COIN Dealership Systems was sold in 1993. The focus of COINdata is to develop new technology applications that will help dealers improve the automobile industry’s retail F&I sales process by increasing customer satisfaction and improving the sales experience while creating valuable efficiencies,” COINdata CEO Mark Singleton said.
For more information, call 770-497-4455 or visit www.coindata.com