Salespeople increasingly have to deal with remote transactions, and that alone opens up new areas where such personnel need to be mindful of how they're conducting a sale, said Terry O'Loughlin, director of compliance at Reynolds Document Solutions.
For example, there are issues with vertifying the identity of the remote buyer. The fraud-prevention Red Flags Rule should be understood by whomever is handling the remote transaction.
Another challenge is how to remotely sell voluntary protection products, also known as ancillary products. It goes beyond just the sale — there are questions surrounding how to handle a test drive, value a trade-in and deliver a vehicle remotely without triggering certain laws or regulations a salesperson may not be familiar with, O'Loughlin said.
He noted the Federal Trade Commission's Cooling-Off Rule as an example. If a salesperson tries to sell an F&I product while delivering a vehicle, that rule, which applies to door-to-door sales and gives a buyer three days to cancel a transaction, could suddenly come into play.
O'Loughlin, a former regulator with the Florida attorney general's office, said it is more important than ever that customer-facing personnel are trained properly.
"I would not unleash someone in my store on a consumer who wasn't thoroughly trained," he said, adding that training should be coupled with ethical standards in the store. He said every dealer should have a compliance officer who handles meeeting the regulations.
Robertson noted that having a compliance department is essential, "so that an appropriate process is put in place, and your compliance department makes sure that the dealer follows that process."
That protects everyone involved, including the dealership's staff and the customer, he added.
Some dealership groups have been proactive in regard to training, F&I professionals told Automotive News.
#1 Cochran Automotive, of Monroeville, Pa., is putting every one of its variable operations managers through Automotive Compliance Specialist certification. The group has had its F&I personnel certified by the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals.
"We believe that every variable manager that is in contact with [private personal information] or customer information needs the knowledge to know what the laws are," said Justin Buzzell, the group's corporate finance director.