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Get ready for F&I menus on iPad

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

The traditional printed menu of aftermarket products could be the next F&I tool to move to hand-held electronic devices, such as the Apple iPad.

One company, iTapMenu, said it expects this month to launch an iPad-based menu system that can be used by third-party administrators marketing F&I products via dealerships.

"It was kind of time for a menu innovation," said Shawn McCool, co-founder of the new company, based in Carmel, Ind.

Other companies also are working on iPad integration, he said, during an online demonstration of the new system.

The iTapMenu system uses the iPad touch screen to allow customers to pick and choose among features and levels of coverage. Customers also can drill down into more information, which in the future could include videos, he said. Price quotes change as customers make their selections, McCool said.

More and more F&I functions are moving to portable electronic devices. Mercedes-Benz Financial Services USA and BMW Financial Services rolled out the use of iPads in 2011 to handle several dealership functions, starting with lease returns. Finance managers for both brands said customers like the convenience, especially the fact that the iPad is portable and doesn't trap the customer in the F&I office.

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