So, if a customer had a windshield replaced with their last vehicle and is predicted to drive more miles and be out of warranty before they will sell the car, then windshield protection and extended warranty coverage would be pitched to that customer, Ford said. Or if a customer finances with the dealership, the Darwin software also can predict a possible negative equity situation and GAP (guaranteed asset protection) insurance coverage may be pitched.
The software works in real time and if a consumer changes a payment term, for example, the software may no longer suggest GAP coverage, Battista said.
And with most of RFJ's stores in rural and small towns and 88 percent of sales either trucks or SUVs, Ford said tire and wheel warranties are strong sellers.
An unlike the quick in-store pitch, online customers can read at their own pace and on their own time about products coverage and benefits, Ford said.
The increase in PRV isn't the only plus RFJ has seen with its vendor switch and addition of Darwin software. It's also seen its penetration rate, or customer take rate, rise "significantly" across its extended warranty coverage and other F&I offerings, though specific amounts weren't available, Ford said.
Ford, who said the sales will help with service and repurchase loyalty, said the changes have aided revenue in a time of compressed new car margins.
"What this has allowed us to do is to replace a lot of that margin compression with increased F&I profits," he said. "So it's been a huge benefit to us from a bottom line perspective."
About 150 U.S. dealerships are using Darwin Online and some have seen dramatic increases in F&I PVR because consumers are educated on the offerings, Battista said.
RFJ Auto is ranked No. 34 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S. measured by 2017 new-vehicle retail sales. And the company is No. 22 on Automotive News' Top 100 dealership groups ranked by 2017 used-vehicle sales. RFJ sold 45,699 new and used cars last year.