We have two different mobile offerings: one of them is an interactive F&I interview and survey application called SmartPad. The other is an extension to our SmartMenu desktop application called Interactive Menu.
With some of the other competitive offerings, most take the approach of taking an entire menu program and putting it on a tablet. It’s not the same form, but F&I managers use it to configure the menu, then hand it over to customer. Our solution has two separate interfaces - a Web-based system used by the F&I manager to configure the menu, and then the tablet-based system which provides the customer experience. The F&I manager first builds the menu specific to the customer, then sends it to the tablet for the customer to review. The customer then gets an interactive experience, including product brochures, videos, manuals – all the information they would have had on paper, plus a whole lot more.
In addition, while every paper menu has an area with sections for things like deal figures, packages, product descriptions, payments, etc., we’ve broken that up so the customer only sees one at a time. Not only does it make the information easier to digest, it also helps the agent, dealer, and F&I manager maintain control over the process.
That's something I think really sets us apart - we don’t agree it’s the right time to give up complete control to the customer. Some companies have theorized that the customer should design their own menu, only seeing products they want. We want to make sure they see all the products – as a starting point every customer sees the same thing, just like the paper products we’ve used for years.2. Which mobile devices are supported?
We work on everything - Android, iPads, even PCs. If an F&I manager wants they can just flip the monitor around for the customer to look at.3. Have you developed a specific mobile application or have enabled your software for mobile devices?
Our SmartMenu product, which provides the F&I manager interface, is not new and that's by design. We've spent ten years perfecting that interface and we feel that an F&I manager will always work faster with a keyboard and mouse than with a tablet where you have to touch or type on the screen to make customizations. The customer interface, on the other hand, was build from the ground up and was was designed specifically for mobile platforms based on HTML5.4. Explain the way you expect the F&I manager to use your mobile solution.
The F&I manager would log on to the SmartMenu web site as always where they would extract the key deal information from their DMS using our Certified DMS Integration. Then they update product prices and other settings specific to the customer. The manager would then click a button that sends the menu directly to the tablet, which is now configured specifically for that customer. This whole process takes about two minutes. Most F&I managers will then walk the customer through the menu using the tablet interface, although some dealers may choose to have the dealer sit on the showroom floor and navigate the menu on their own.5. How will this enhance the sales process for the F&I manager?
Two things: One, it puts more tools at their fingertips related to each individual product. They can click on a product and get all the details instead of having to root around for brochures. Two, it helps focus the customer on individual elements of the menu without getting "sticker shock". With a paper menu the F&I manager does not have a chance to build product value before the customer sees the monthly payments and develops internal resistance. Now, an F&I manager can control the process, so the customer doesn’t see pricing until they’ve learned about each individual product. The F&I manager can focus all of his or her energy on each product before getting into the economics.6. What other mobile solutions do you believe the F&I office and agents will see in the next few years?
I think you’ll see full e-contracting on the tablet happen soon, and not just warranty plans, but the entire deal all at once. Right now we have different types of warranties that can be e-contracted, but I think we'll also see the odometer statement, retail installment contract, lender documents, etc. being completed electronically.7. Does your product benefit agents?
Absolutely! Just like an agent, my paycheck depends on the sale of warranty products NOT the sale of software. So I'd never promote a technology solution that I didn't think would sell more warranties. And I think this technology solution will absolutely lead to more product sales.