Asbury Automotive Group CEO Ken Gilman is fed up with customers being forced to spend hours in a dealership signing a stack of documents before they drive off in a new car.
Gilman wants a paperless transaction that uses technology to speed the process. It's a vision shared by dealers who are unhappy with the paper parade.
Paperless technology means fewer errors, less wasted time and better supervision of a dealership's business, proponents say.
It also means happier customers. The longer customers spend signing papers, the longer it takes for them to enjoy their new vehicle. And, in the world of auto dealers, happy customers are return customers.
"I'm interested in a paperless transaction from start to finish dealing with every document that goes into making a car deal, every document that's signed in the F&I office," Gilman says.
"We must offer the customer a 21st-century shopping experience because the business office of a car dealership today I don't think is much different than 1950."
Strides are being made that give dealers a start on the paperless path, including electronic retail installment contracts that allow dealers to complete the transaction without paper and an electronic "deal jacket" -- an electronic folder that contains all of the information required to complete the deal.
And vendors are getting ready to show off new products early next year.
Gilman is creating a task force to develop a plan with Reynolds and Reynolds Co. -- one of the vendors that sell computer hardware, software and support to Asbury dealerships -- to achieve a paperless transaction. Asbury has 96 dealerships in the United States.