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Technology changes the game for dealers

Technology is supposed to make life easier. It's also complicating things.

With all the new vehicle gadgets -- Bluetooth, navigation, factory-installed communication and entertainment systems -- dealers are selling more than a solid engine, sexy design and a good deal.

Salespeople must be fluent in technology; they have to explain it to customers, especially those buyers ages 45 and up. That might mean hiring younger and more tech-savvy sales staffers than perhaps five years ago.

And there are costs. Salespeople must spend extra time teaching the technology to customers at delivery. For example, a dealer once told me a typical delivery five years ago could take up to an hour and a half. Now it could take up to three hours -- possibly longer if the buyer later returns for further instructions.

That's time a salesperson could use making another sale.

And in that case, technology is not making life any easier.

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