Monday, March 23, 2020

Make Fun Happen – Make It Safe – Make It Now – Make It Tomorrow

By Myril Shaw - Dealer Profit Services

Boats, RVs, Motorcycles, Off-Roads – recreational vehicles are all ways to offer fun and freedom in the time of social distancing.  As an industry, we have an obligation to deliver great, moral boosting lifestyle experiences in a way that is responsible, socially and legally, easy and fun.

The great news is that this is entirely possible without disenfranchising anyone.

It is entirely possible, and not even that hard, to create both a virtual showroom and safe personal experience for those more technology challenged customers.

F&I sales and profit can continue unabated.

Delivery and service can remain largely unimpacted with the exception of some simple process changes – which will actually enhance the customer experience.

Does this sound like a fantasy?

Well, it is not.

One automotive company led the way on experiences like this – others have followed and now franchise dealers are beginning to offer this experience.  There is no longer a reason for the recreational vehicle industry to lag years behind the automotive industry.

Carvana is hardly a poster child in many automotive business model related ways – but it is the clear leader in the new world experience.  With Carvana, you go online and look at cars you like in the price range (or payment range) you are looking for.  Pick the car – describe your trade and receive a value.  Arrange to finance online.  The car is delivered to you.  Your trade is picked up.  Carvana offers a seven-day return policy – so when they deliver the car, you do the paperwork and then do the test drive – you can't steal a car you already own.

There are some missing pieces – but this is almost a 100% COVID 19 and post COVID 19 experience – and there is no reason that this cannot be your experience tomorrow.

The following are the key steps to setting up your customer selling, delivering and servicing environment tomorrow – and keep it going to deliver a convenient and delightful sales and service environment that will create raving fans and loyal customers for years to come.

1)     Create an online/virtual showroom that is better and easier than your in-person environment.  This virtual showroom will be available 24/7.  Have zoom outs that show multiple units and zoom in detail for every unit.  If you can do it (and you can) use 360-degree photography for every unit.  Every unit means every unit – same model different color deserves equal treatment – what would the customer see if they were there in person?  Oh, include pictures of Warranty Brochures, fake spilled coffee and everything/anything else in the showroom that plants the seed for protective product sales.  Make this video and picture sequence easy to navigate and fun to look through.  This is not a substitute for your individual inventory pictures and listings (although you make those accessible directly through your website virtual showroom link) – it is the new showroom experience.
2)    Let everyone know about your virtual showroom.  Describe it and have the link to it in all your social media advertising, your print advertising, your TV advertising, your radio advertising AND let people know that physical showroom experiences are available by appointment – and those appointments need to schedulable by phone and online.  These in-store appointments address both the technically challenged and technically skeptical.  You should also have visible physical signs everywhere that in-store showings are by appointment only.
3)    Train your sales team on phone sales!
4)    For the in-store experience, make a determination about how many can be done at one time.  Set up appropriately spaced desks/tables to have initial conversations, provide appropriate sanitizers, meet the customer and walk on.
5)    Every potential customer with any interest, in-store or on-line, should provide a name, address, phone, and email so that a soft credit pull can be done – this is the first step in avoiding identity theft and will provide critical data about customer quality.
6)    "Get -Prequalified", or Soft-Pull must be everywhere – on your website, on each piece of inventory, and links have to be in all your other advertising.  This is powerfully attractive in the new environment and it will attract potential customers.
7)    F&I should be natural.  There is nothing about F&I that requires a face to face experience – although Menu-Selling is powerful.  Menu-selling can be done remotely, as long as the customer is technically equipped.  It is pretty straightforward to achieve outstanding F&I results remotely.
8)    Here is the biggest change of all – test drives.  The best policy is to offer a "no questions asked" return policy.  Perhaps that policy is only for 12 hours – and you will simply hold completed paperwork until a test drive is completed – complete the paperwork first – then let the customer do the test drive.  There may be more flexible ways to address this – the key is to maintain social distancing before and during the test drive – and to ensure that you have a customer who is committed.
9)    About the paperwork – some things are required and in some cases, physical signatures are required.  Here is where Compliance becomes an issue.  The USA Patriot requires that you see both the customer and their Driver's License and verify that you are, in fact, dealing with the person that they say they are.  Some lenders require the dealer's signature on a Patriot Act Form.  The law is in effect for both cash and finance customers – and it has not been, and likely will not be, relaxed.  What can you do?  First, where e-signatures are accepted you should use them – for the people who can do them.  Everywhere else, you can either use your in-store appointment experience – prepare the signing documents, have the customer sign and leave them – they can they be handled with gloves, sanitized and sent on, or you can overnight documents to your customer with return instructions – test drives and delivery won't happen until the documents are in.  Verifying identity (remember the USA Patriot Act) can be a challenge – there are several things that can be done: always do a soft credit pull, it will highlight for potential issue; at the very least, get a high-quality picture of the driver's license front and back and look for anything suspicious (there will be a point in time when you or someone from your store gets a look at the buyer – make sure they match the picture; examine the high-quality photo to ensure that the lamination does not appear to be damaged in any way; get at least one other form of identification – Social Security Card, Passport, other state or federal ID.  The bottom line is that Virtual, COVID 19, nor anything else is an excuse for Compliance avoidance – and there is no need to avoid Compliance while delivering a safe and delightful experience.
10) Once you have the paperwork complete, Delivery is easy.  Drop the unit – or have the customer pick up the unit – all while maintaining a socially safe distance.
11) Service is pretty easy as well – offer pick-up and delivery with paperwork done at a safe distance.  Clean/sanitize the unit on drop-off/pick-up and again on delivery. Take online payments where you can.

Now – we are in a new world.  Today, it is a sad world because people are dying and people are losing their jobs.  We certainly wish that was not happening and we will rejoice in the day that is not true!

Today's environment does not mean that you can't sell and the lessons you learn today will be with you forever.  Welcome to the new, better, more delightful sales and service environment of the future.

Stay safe, stay healthy, help your customers stay safe and healthy – live long and prosper!

Dealer Profit Services

Dealer Profit Services, LLC can help you achieve F&I excellence - no matter where you are in the development and/or maturity of your store or stores F&I success model.  As the industry's only Finance Solutions Provider, Dealer Profit Services can and will equip you with what you need to take that next step in your F&I success - regardless of what that next step might be.  Whether you want someone to help you take over take over your F&I and with our experienced personnel just help you drive profit to your store, provide help to you some of the time, need some quick advice or just provide F&I Training/Consulting, we are here to help you.  If you are not fully equipped with all of your Compliance Manuals and Training, Dealer Profit Services can do that too.  Contact us anytime at or give us a call at (470) 326-0966.

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