DETROIT — Last June, Florida dealer Derrick Fish was invited by a former colleague, now working at an AutoNation Inc. store in Tampa, Fla., to check out a new finance and insurance menu-selling device being tested by the giant dealership group.
“I went through the process of going through a car deal with them where I was the customer,” recalls Fish, general manager and part owner of Kuhn Honda-Volkswagen in Tampa. He was blown away.
By Feb. 1, Kuhn had launched the equipment, called the docuPAD, in its Honda-VW store and a second VW store in Tampa.
A number of information technology providers offer systems that allow F&I staffers to sell from a menu of products, aiming to boost profits and quicken one of the least customer-friendly experiences at a dealership. Fish says several things about the docuPAD were appealing:
-- Speed. The AutoNation store reported shaving several minutes from each F&I session with a customer -- and improving customer satisfaction.
Kuhn trimmed 10 to 15 minutes off the typical customer session time, reducing the average to 51 minutes. Fish aims to improve that further, ideally to 30 minutes.
-- Thoroughness. The device ensures that all F&I products are presented to the customer. A finance employee cannot skip products. The system can be set to play video explainers for products such as maintenance contracts or the LoJack security system.
Kuhn's F&I product sales have jumped by $250 per vehicle, Fish says. Profits are up $100 per car.
-- Record-keeping. The docuPAD, made by Coindata, is not an electronic contracting system, its developers say. But the system's protocols, plus the ease of storing electronic records, will help dealerships comply with ever-more-complex regulations governing F&I practices, Fish says.
"You have to be able to offer the same programs to everybody," Fish says. "Unfortunately, sometimes someone might shortcut here or there, and docuPAD does not allow that."