Dealership Technology – Solution or Problem?

I was recently visiting with a dealer in southeastern Pa., and we were discussing his new database management program. I was interested in what it did, and he was more than happy to tell me. He said “This program completely takes my salespeople out of any and all follow-up with my customers!” Knowing how turnover in sales can dramatically affect a dealership’s long-term sales, I didn’t think much of it at that moment.
As I was driving back to the office, I thought about what he had said again… “This program completely takes my salespeople out of any and all follow-up with my customers!” It was at that moment I realized that maybe too much is TOO MUCH!
Why do most sales technologies distance the customer from the actual HUMAN BEING in the dealership? Is that REALLY what we need in our business? Did I miss the memo about keeping customers and salespeople as far apart as possible?
In fairness, there are MANY wonderful tools available through many fine companies. But there is a point where you need to consider whether technology is a solution or a problem. In my opinion, that point is where you find yourself substituting technology for actual sales. Actual sales – you know – the process of one human being transferring excitement about a product or service to another human being – resulting in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Do you want a computer selling to your customers? Do you want a customer buying from an interactive software program or DVD? Remember when you had a big ugly VCR in your finance office? I once asked a finance manager what it was there for, and he told me it was a credit insurance presentation on videotape. I asked how it was working for him, and he just laughed and said “How do you think?”
Working in F&I development allows me a certain amount of understanding of what will work and what will not. If a dealer wants to have a highly productive F&I department, there is no secret in how to accomplish the task: Hire the best people on the best pay-plan with the best desk procedures imaginable. Train those people and hold them accountable.
If you are a dealer that is only interested in F&I as a service you provide your customers to make their purchase convenient, and not necessarily an important profit center, technology based sales programs will work wonders for you. But if you are looking for F&I to provide important income to your bottom line… think PEOPLE FIRST… and save your money on anything that claims to sell your customer with technology.

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