Technology has minimized two of the biggest drawbacks to videotaped dealership transactions: where to store bulky VHS tapes and how to archive the information for fast retrieval.
The Internet, CDs and DVDs enable dealers to make digital video recordings of F&I transactions and store them on disks or a central server so they can be retrieved online.
Two companies that can help dealers with such recordings are Innovative Aftermarket Systems of Austin, Texas, and Southwest Re of Albuquerque, N.M.
Both companies provide cameras, microphones, software and hardware that enable dealers to make digital recordings of the transactions, store them on their PCs' hard drives and then transfer the information to CDs or DVDs.
Innovative Aftermarket Systems has installed its Smart Eye system in 500 dealerships since September 2000, President Bob Corbin says.
The company charges about $500 per office installation. A monthly software licensing fee is waived in exchange for the dealer selling some of Innovative's other products, such as paint sealant, window etching and guaranteed automotive protection insurance.
The company is testing technology that enables dealers to download the recorded material to its central server in Austin, says Matt Nowicki, director of information technology. The archived, password-protected information can be retrieved from anywhere with a computer that has high-speed Internet connections.
Southwest Re has installed seven of its Save-A-Deal systems since its rollout in December, says national consultant Gary Tharp.
The system, which includes a new Dell computer, costs $1,895 per office installation. The dealer owns the system, and there are no monthly fees.
Save-A-Deal is operated on the computer keyboard. The F&I agent uses a hot key to switch from the work screen to a screen that shows what is being recorded on camera and to start and stop the recording. The information then is transferred to a CD.