Can't you just email me the paperwork?
That's what many customers, especially younger ones, wonder when they're ready to finalize their vehicle purchase at a dealership and see a large stack of documents awaiting their signatures.
Customers' desire for a digitally driven car-buying process helped prompt Auto/Mate Dealership Systems' rollout of its eDEAL Signature Capture feature, with which F&I managers can capture signatures, store electronically signed documents and email digital deal jackets to customers.
"I think that it's really the customer experience, to start with, that's going to create the awareness that [the dealerships are] part of the 21st century now," Auto/Mate CEO Mike Esposito told Automotive News.
Auto/Mate is one of several dealership technology companies moving toward electronic signatures and documents to streamline and digitize the F&I process. For example, last year RouteOne launched Remote Document Delivery, an electronic signature component. Car buyers can access and sign a finance contract and F&I product contracts remotely. Those contracts then are immediately accessible to dealerships.
Auto/Mate's feature can be used on any mobile tablet running the company's Desk/Mate software. Digital deals can be downloaded as a zip file and then emailed or put on a flash drive. All forms are stored as PDFs in the store's dealership management system.
The addition of e-signature capture to the F&I process follows the release last March ahead of the NADA Show of Auto/Mate's E-Signature Capture engine for service and parts forms, such as repair orders. Auto/Mate is calling the signature capture technology eSign. With eSign, customers can typically sign a digital document once on a mobile tablet device and then tap to apply their signature to other required fields.
"With this, we actually show you the whole document, so you can see what you're signing," Esposito said.
Esposito said eDEAL is available to dealers in all 49 states where Auto/Mate operates, but he considers its release a gradual rollout based on whether dealers have proper digital forms in place.
State regulations, for example, are a major hurdle in the transition to digital paperwork for dealers, with some states requiring certain documents be printed and requiring fees on some forms. Some contract forms are also licensed by banks or other companies, such as Reynolds and Reynolds.
Esposito said, "As we go along with dealers, we're finding the forms that we can do and can't do."