In-store kiosks put F&I right in front of customers

Ben Catanese is a founder of GoMoto and also a dealer principal.

Michael Fastman believes in the power of putting finance and insurance products at customers' fingertips.

So he is buying kiosks for BMW of Silver Spring, in Silver Spring, Md., where he is general manager, and BMW of Catonsville, in Baltimore, where he is in charge of operations. The kiosks will make videos, price information and other details about products such as extended service contracts, prepaid maintenance plans and wheel-and-tire protection available to customers when they visit.

Fastman believes the units, dubbed Digital Hubs by creator GoMoto, will help the dealerships sell more F&I products and create a customer database for future marketing programs.

But just as important, the units bridge the gap between the information-rich online shopping experience and the paper-shuffling that takes place in typical brick-and mortar dealerships, said Todd Marcelle, CEO and co-founder of GoMoto.

Fastman says he expects to have Digital Hubs customized for his two BMW dealerships by year end. The dealerships are part of the MileOne Automotive Group, which, according to its website, operates 73 franchises in 40 dealerships in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina.

With some banks capping loan markups and paying flat fees to dealerships for arranging loans, Fastman adds, "products sales are where we're going to survive in F&I, and there are a lot of products that we offer."

GoMoto started in 2013 as a company that generated sales leads for new-car dealerships by giving consumers at shopping malls test drives in competing brands' new vehicles. It has moved from staffing and executing that business model and has become a provider of technology platforms to engage customers at the dealership, Marcelle said.

Another GoMoto founder, Ben Catanese, is dealer principal of his family-owned Volkswagen of Salem County, in rural Monroeville, N.J.

Digital Hub features a tilting 32-inch touch screen that is mounted on a stand that can be rolled from one place in a dealership to another.

The units can be customized with software that give information about a dealership's offerings, such as new vehicles, used vehicles, service and F&I, depending on a dealer's needs and preference, Marcelle said.

The cost to lease a unit and its software and to train employees is $1,495 per month for the first year. Dealers that contract with the company for a second year will own the unit and pay a reduced cost for its software and service.

Dealers also can use the unit to collect useful consumer data and information, Marcelle said.

For example, dealers can get a report within minutes of a customer using Digital Hub that shows what products the customer looked at and for how long. The unit gathers contact information when consumers scan their driver's licenses for activities such as test drives or credit applications.

Dealers who use Digital Hub also have access to its software application on in-dealership electronic tablets.

Marcelle said the product is targeted to "progressive dealers."

"They are so focused on process and so focused on the customer experience and want to improve it and bridge the gap," he said. "The analytics are a part of it."

You can reach Arlena Sawyers at asawyers@autonews.com

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