BMW rolls out e-contracts to reduce customer waits

Finance managers in BMW dealerships can cut down on customers' waiting time and dealers should get much faster funding as BMW Group Financial Services rolls out electronic contracts, or e-contracting, across the country.

The captive finance company is adding e-contracting in Texas and Michigan this month, after starting it earlier this year in five states: Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. California and Florida are scheduled to come online by September. By the end of 2011, BMW Financial Services expects to have dealers in 17 states engaged in e-contracting.

Shaun Bugbee, vice president of sales and marketing at BMW Financial Services, says the company's e-contracting process works for all transactions, whether the vehicle is new or used and the contract is for a loan or a lease. He estimated that e-contracting cuts down on customer waiting time by at least 30 percent.

Other auto lenders also use e-contracting. Chase Auto Finance, for instance, uses e-contracting for loans in nearly every state. Vendors DealerTrack and RouteOne offer e-contract software.

"Part of the beauty of e-contracting is that before the contract can be presented to the customer for signature, everything has been [automatically] validated," he said. "The rates are right, the Truth in Lending disclosures, all that is valid."

Brian Blum, finance manager for Prestige BMW, in Ramsey, N.J., said the other big advantage of e-contracting is that the loan gets funded and the dealership gets paid on the same day. Without e-contracting, it takes at least one extra day and possibly two to ship the documents to the lender and complete the funding process.

Said Blum: "The dealer gets funded quickly."

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