JT: Let's get started. Car buyer satisfaction tends to rise with the successful implementation of a more streamlined digital purchase process. But there's still room for dealers to improve. Mr. Vackar, can you talk about the impact a streamlined online car buying process has had on your dealership group?
RV: With our dealerships, we found out that COVID and the chip shortage has resolved any issue with car buying. What we're doing now is we're working out of inbound inventories and orders. So, we're selling cars 30, 60, 90 days ahead of them arriving in the dealership. So, what we do is we have our customers go online or they contact us and a model they might be interested in. And we let them know what we have come in and we give them a timetable. Once that once that gets closer, we look at 30, 60 days and we get an invoice, and we get with the customer. They can do their credit app over the phone or online. Everything is done online. When that vehicle arrives in our dealership, we have an approved credit application and all we have to do is we call the customer to say, we physically have your car in our dealership. They walk in, they do one final review.
They take a look at their car, and they agree to that's what they want. At that time, they can walk into our financial offices. It takes ten, 20 minutes at the most. Everything, all their contracts, their credits are approved. The contract's done. They've approved the car. The car has been made ready. It's ready for delivery. They walk in and initial those pages. There are four areas which they have to sign off on. They sign that and they're ready to go and we're finished. We walk them outside and the delivery process probably takes a little bit longer if they want. We have people standing by. We have a new process that we do. We walk the customer around the car, we show them all the touch points. We go over things with them and they're finished. I would think even with a high end, more complicated car, you're looking at 20, 30 minutes. You've come, you've looked at your car, you signed your contract, and you're gone. I never thought that we see something this fast, but we've perfected it and it’s really help. I feel like this is something we'll always do even when the chip shortage is over. COVID'S resided a little bit. This is a process we'll follow and all of our inventory, all of our cars will still be sold online. Customers will come in and it's going to be a quick process.
JC: What can dealers focus on to continue improving the customer experience?
RV: What we're focusing on is the delivery times and their appointment times. And that's what we do daily. What we're doing is we're setting up appointments every day. So, we know exactly the time that customers coming in and when they come in, we set them up where to process them. I can tell you on any day that at about 3:00 in the afternoon, 4:00 in the afternoon, because we confirm all appointments, I can tell you how many vehicles we're going to contract to sell that day. So, it's a seamless process. It just moves so quick. And I think our call centers, we think we've perfected better than anyone I've talked to. And that's the only way I see selling cars. And we won't have that customer who comes in and spends a lot of time looking at cars processing. We do it all over the computer. We provide you everything you need and when you walk in, you are you’ve completed the process.
JC: How can dealers get a handle on the pain points their customers encounter in the purchase process?
RV: The only pain point that we ever see is the time spent in finance. That's gone away because when they walk in, they’ve already agreed to everything we've got. We don't have to take a credit application, that's been done. It's been approved. We've eliminated that pain point before they walk in the dealership, when they walk in the dealership, they've already reviewed that contract online. They know exactly what they're getting, what's happening. When they walk in that door, they walk into the finance. All they do is initial the page on the bottom, that it's correct. And they're out of there. They can do their process in five, 10 minutes at the most. We've a completely a limited any push back or pain point.
JC: In some ways the past two years haven't really what car shoppers say they want from the process. They say speed, transparency and convenience are still the things they want most when buying a new car. Kathryn, could you suggest one or two specific steps dealers can consider implementing in each of those areas?
KM: I think the number one thing is the customer experience. That convenience and time go hand in hand and the ability to buy a car online or come in store and buy a car are both equally important. But these days who doesn't spend their time ordering things online and getting them delivered? Groceries, clothes? And that's something that we've all learned from COVID. So, I think that customer experience is so important because it goes outside the walls of the dealership into the community. And this dealer group is a leading edge with regard to giving back to the community and their customers are their number one important task of the day.
JC: Alongside what Robert was saying about the finance process, can you give any tips about making that a smoother journey for customers?
KM: Well, I think what he's referring to is so many dealers have implemented the online application system. So, when you go in to look for a car, you can choose which bank that you're going to request financing from. And like he said, a lot of that gets done in your home. And so, all you need to do is go pick up your car or have your cars delivered. Digitized financing is something I never thought I'd see either. I'll go along with Mr. Vackar on that. It's been cutting edge. It's been very exciting to be a part of it.
JC: That's it for this episode of the All Ears podcast. A big thank you to Kathryn and Robert for providing those insights. On behalf of Ally and the Automotive News Content Studio. Thanks for listening.
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