The platform, now in its fifth iteration, distinguishes itself in a market swarming with software because of its origins as an in-store tool, Walser said.
"It was built from the dealership out, not the Internet in," Walser told Automotive News. "We're living in the same software — the customer, the employees and the management team — whether it's online or in store."
The platform builds deals using information about the customer and the vehicle and accessories they plan to purchase. From there, the software sifts through the auto lenders connected through the platform to determine the lowest monthly payment for the customer that delivers the highest dealer reserve.
The tool allows dealership employees to be more objective about which banks purchase business from the store, Walser said, rather than relying on relationships within the lenders.
"There's cases where you can make a couple hundred dollars more at one bank and provide the exact same payment to a consumer, just the way that they pay reserve," he said. "And what if the dealer wasn't even signed up with that bank? Well, it just cost the dealership $200."
Fuse, which stands for "finance under secure environment," also provides the underpinnings of Walser's digital retailing platform. The Fuse dealership desking tool is live now on group store websites, and the ability to finalize the deal online without dealership employee intervention will roll out in the next several months, Walser said.
The group averages $1,250 in F&I profit per vehicle sold, up $500 from when the stores had F&I departments. Walser attributes the change to time saved in the dealership and the added profitability from using the tool to select the lender best suited for the store. Allowing customers to self-select F&I options online also has been beneficial, he said.
To date, the group has finalized nearly 375,000 transactions through Fuse in its dealerships. The group retailed 42,181 vehicles last year, new and used.
Walser Automotive Group is based in Edina and has 28 stores selling brands including Toyota, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Subaru in Minnesota, California, Illinois and Wichita, Kan. The group's chairman and Andrew's brother, Paul Walser, became chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association last week.
The group, which also has one standalone used-car store, ranks No. 54 on Automotive News' list of the top 150 dealership groups based in the U.S., with retail sales of 18,057 new vehicles in 2019.