Many F&I managers use a variety of programs to complete a vehicle transaction. To streamline the often cumbersome process, Dealertrack has launched uniFI, an open-platform system that connects the disparate programs.
Dealership personnel typically rely on more than six systems to finalize a sale, according to a poll by Cox Automotive, Dealertrack's parent company. UniFI, an upgrade to the Dealertrack Classic program, is an all-in-one platform that streamlines dealership workflow.
"It's really meant to seamlessly connect the entire deal process, and be an open platform to the industry and our partners," Cheryl Miller, general manager of Dealertrack F&I Solutions, told Automotive News. UniFI's goal is a "workflow experience that helps the consumer, the lender, the dealer have a much more efficient process," Miller added.
From the platform, dealership staff can run credit checks, submit credit applications, structure deals and calculate payments, for example, without re-entering information or clicking through different windows. The platform also includes compliance forms that meet federal regulations and connects customers' online experience with their in-store transaction.
The single log-in platform is designed to work on any device with at least a 9-inch screen, Cox said.
In a 2017 study of car buyers, Cox found that 83 percent of customers start the buying process online. But despite having begun their purchase online, customers spent an average of three hours at the dealership. That time could be blamed on salespeople and F&I managers getting organized to deal with buyers' paperwork.
Cox said about 9,000 dealerships -- including franchised and independent stores -- use uniFI, and that number will grow as Dealertrack rolls out the platform to all of its customers in 2019.
North Shore Honda of Glen Head, N.Y., uses the new program, and the review is mixed. Richard Cirami, the dealership's finance director, said the program takes too long to use. "The drawback is time, like everything else," he said. Cirami said he's had difficulty with using uniFI on his tablets and desktop computers, concurrent with the Auto/Mate software he's been using.
Still, he said, "We're going to use it," adding that it has been making deals more foolproof by automatically sending prompts for missing information.
Joe Speaker, sales manager at Neuwirth Cars On Market, an independent dealership in Wilmington, N.C., was more upbeat in his early assessment. In the several months his store has used uniFI, "it's really streamlined the business significantly," he said. "It's got a good flow."
Speaker, who had previously used the Dealertrack Classic product, said uniFI has helped increase the number of credit applications that he can submit in a day and has reduced the amount of time it takes to pull credit and complete other tasks in closing deals. He said, "It's literally cut my time in half."