September 29, 2020

Ohio dealer launches digital tool for pre-delivery paperwork

A three-store Ohio dealer is bringing to market an in-store digital tool that aims to expedite all of the pre-delivery paperwork of a car deal.

The product, ZipDeal, shows customers finance-and-insurance product options and solicits online reviews for the dealership, increasing penetration of those products and enticing interested buyers to the dealership. Company executives say the software simplifies the sales process and allows customers to repurpose time typically wasted waiting outside the F&I office.

Steve Lindsay developed the program in 2017 for his family’s group, Lindsay Automotive, which has a Honda, an Acura and a Buick-GMC store in Columbus, Ohio. Lindsay piloted the technology for a couple of years with the top five sales staff at two of its locations. For his high-volume stores, he said streamlining the post-negotiation period was a priority.

“What I really wanted was to emulate certain things that our superstar salespeople did,” said Lindsay, who co-owns and operates the dealership group with his father and brother. “The best way for me to do that was through software. Basically, understanding that our processes needed to dictate our technologies, not our technologies our process.”

Lindsay launched the tool this month after finally feeling comfortable with how it worked. Helping him with the launch were dealership software veterans Tony Gomez and Chip King, who operated CallRevu, a tool to measure phone performance on dealership sales. The two sold the company in 2017, though King, who founded CallRevu in 2006, remains on the board.

Profit per vehicle retailed increased about $800 at Lindsay Honda after implementing the ZipDeal process, Lindsay said, and F&I product sales increased 28 percent. Profit attributable to F&I rose $200 on a per-vehicle basis, he said.

Through ZipDeal, customers can also select vehicle accessories, verify titling and registration information and personalize some of the features of their new car such as preferred radio station presets. The online portal connects to dealership management systems directly and automatically prints required customer feedback for the F&I manager.

The secret to the software’s success is its uniformity — each customer is presented every add-on option every time through a tool they can navigate independently. The process feels familiar to customers, Lindsay said, because they’re accustomed to online checkout systems in other sales experiences such as pre-boarding procedures for air travel.

“There’s so many loose ends that need to be wrapped up. And as margins have been compressed and more and more things have been added to the workload of our sales people, it’s just not prudent for me as a dealer to be adding more labor when most of it is just process-driven,” Lindsay said. “We just have to collect that information consistently.”