Sales reps at Sonic Automotive Inc. dealerships will begin using iPads next year to handle the vehicle sale from beginning to end.
The move, scheduled for the second half of 2014 and long in the making, marks a major shift in sales strategy for one the nation's largest dealership groups. Sonic executives expect the change to bring shorter transaction times, better customer satisfaction, lower employee turnover and higher sales.
"The sales associate will complete the entire transaction," Jeff Dyke, Sonic executive vice president of operations, told Automotive News. "They'll do all the F&I; they'll do all the desking; they'll do everything. It's something we're very excited about."
Sonic, the nation's third-largest retailer, started rolling out iPads to dealerships in 2011, starting with service department pilot projects. In 2012 it launched a plan to distribute iPads and iPhones to all customer-facing employees, including sales reps.
Executives wouldn't talk about their ultimate vision for transforming the sales process at that time. But Sonic is now ready to share some details after completing the rollout of devices to all stores earlier this spring and informing employees. All stores -- 103 now, with two to come in a pending acquisition -- will adopt the process by the end of 2014.