A new program from DealerTrack Holdings Inc. will enable car dealers to automate contracts for aftermarket finance and insurance products, including vehicle service contracts.
The company calls the service DealerTrack Aftermarket Network. It will link dealerships to vendors of aftermarket contracts online.
The service automatically determines what a contract will cost a dealer for a particular vehicle model and equipment.
It will allow dealers to process aftermarket contracts electronically.
DealerTrack, of Lake Success, N.Y., has a similar service that processes automated credit applications. It serves nearly 21,000 dealers through more than 200 auto lenders.
DealerTrack is testing the network. It should be commercially available by mid-year, says David Trinder, the network's president. "We are very bullish about who we are going to sign in the coming months," Trinder told Automotive News.
DealerTrack has signed up six aftermarket vendors and is negotiating with others, Trinder says.
Ultimate Warranty, a service contract vendor in Rocky River, Ohio, is taking part in the pilot program.
Edwardo Jordan, president of Ultimate Warranty, says dealership F&I managers now must look up aftermarket contracts in a book or on a rate sheet. They then must complete the contracts by hand.
That process, Jordan says, is "inefficient at best." Errors occur in the process 20 to 30 percent of the time, he and other vendors estimate.
When a mistake happens, Jordan adds, "most of the time, the dealer eats the difference so they don't have to have the customer come back and sign again."
Dealers say the service will make aftermarket contracting faster and more accurate.
"I am anxious to use it," says George Steinmetz, president of Matthews Paoli Ford in Paoli, Pa. "It would be nice to deal with one centralized supplier for contract submissions."
Steinmetz estimates that 15 percent of the aftermarket contracts at his dealership now include errors.
DealerTrack will provide the automated service at no charge. The company also will offer dealers an electronic menu to help them present aftermarket products to customers. Dealers would pay to subscribe to that menu. The company has not set the subscription price, Trinder says.
Dave Robertson, executive director of the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals, says several companies other than DealerTrack "provide online rating capabilities."
He adds: "I believe DealerTrack is the first to integrate a number of programs into a single service."
You may e-mail Donna Harris at [email protected]