Even if you don’t own an iPhone, iPod or iPad, odds are that you know someone who does. Their popularity is no accident: They’re intuitive, interactive and always entertaining.
If everyone is having fun with the applications on these Apple products, why not make menu systems for the F&I department more fun and customizable? Enter Shawn McCool, founder of iTapMenu, which runs exclusively on the iPad, is a new, interactive way to present products to customers — and an opportunity for agents to keep their dealer clients on the cutting edge.Old vs. New
McCool and his team set out to reinvent the four-column F&I menu by making it more interactive than traditional paper and electronic menus. “That style of menu is an obvious sales pitch, and customers aren’t going to be trusting of marking through this [menu], handwriting in a new payment and then asking them to initial next to the new payment,” he says. “If I were to visit a dealership that uses a four-column menu and pull their last 20 menus, I would bet 15 of them have handwritten changes through them. That tells me there could be a better way.”
iTapMenu provides an entirely different structure. Sitting side-by-side with the customer, the F&I manager starts with a “Recommended” column of products and then uses iTaps exclusive drag-and-drop feature to build a second “Customer Selections” column. The system then recalculates the monthly payment based on the new lineup.
“The philosophy of iTap is extreme, ridiculous transparency,” says McCool. “It doesn’t and shouldn’t feel like you’re getting sold. It should feel educational and consultive.”
If a customer has questions about any product, the F&I manager taps on the product icon to launch a window that includes statistics related to the product as well as a 10-to-15-second educational video. From there, they can tap a price icon to reveal other price and payment information.
Back on the product screen, the customer is able to see the retail price of each product as well as the monthly or daily cost. McCool believes the customer should see every change, good or bad, so no questions are left unanswered and the value is made clear. “As an example, if you need to increase the term to lower the payment and the lender requires a rate increase for the change in term, go ahead and increase it right on the iPad in front of the customer. It is what it is.”Focus on Interaction
The process requires F&I managers to put the iPad down and sit next to the customer throughout the presentation, but McCool encourages them to allow the customer to interact with the software at some point. He believes that, the more they do that, the more involved in the process they’ll feel and more trust that is instantly created.
“I would not recommend giving the iPad to the customer. But, if the customer wants to drag a product icon into a column to see the change in payment, I think that can only create positives. Imagine the customer’s reaction to having just a little control. They will start to buy products when you stop trying to sell them. That’s what iTap is about.”
Once the products are decided upon, the F&I manager takes the customer to an integrated “Accept/Decline” screen and a form populates with spaces available for signatures. This screen shows all the products that were agreed upon as well as those that were declined. This page is also interactive and can be used as a last-chance selling opportunity.
Once the customer agrees, they sign directly on the iPad. McCool notes that this electronic signature meets all relevant compliance standards. Every product that was agreed upon and declined is listed, the final term, rate and payment are listed, the legalese is there and their digital signature is stored in “the cloud.” This form can be printed out or emailed to the client for their records.
Agents and iTap
“We want to work with agents,” McCool says. “That is one of our primary distribution models. We understand the value they bring to dealerships. We have several relationships in place and want to grow that.”
McCool says it’s important for agents who rep iTap to be on board with the company’s philosophy: Everything that is done on the iTap is transparent, the customer knows exactly what they’re buying, and there is no “gray area” in the F&I experience.
“The agent has to agree with the philosophies of iTapMenu,” he says. “Believe that transparency is king, that this menu structure has advantages over a four-column menu, and that an iPad-based system has some benefits over a printed four-column menu because of the ability to customize on the fly.”