It's not that dealership finance and insurance managers are bashful types, but some are camera-shy when it comes to the prospect of video recording customer transactions and interactions in their offices.
So says Bob Elbrader, founder and director of operations for Intravision Technologies, providers of video equipment for dealership F&I offices.
“A lot off F&I managers say, ‘Why do I want to record myself?’” Elbrader says. “My response is, ‘Why do football teams record and analyze their games?’”
The surveillance cameras help train personnel in addition to making sure staffers comply with F&I's strict rules and regulations, he says.
“It really can be an effective training tool,” he says. “It analyzes strengths and weaknesses.”
Supporters of such technology say that recording F&I transactions encourages proper conduct and protects dealerships from potential liabilities.
Critics say it can be expensive, time consuming and potentially become discovery evidence in a legal case.
Elbrader says the use of video cameras in the F&I office has “evolved a lot” since his firm introduced its service in 2002, pitching it as a way for dealers to know what is going on in their stores.
“Dealers are moving to it and we're helping dealers manage the process,” he says. “It's not just the videos, but what we do with the videos.
He was among attendees discussing new trends in F&I technology at a recent F&I Management and Technology conference in Las Vegas.
Robert J. Miller, first vice president of Life of the South's automotive division, says the insurer is moving away from rate manuals and towards electronic rates.
“We're trying to get away from printed forms,” Miller says. “We're encouraging clients to get data to us electronically.”
An electronic exchange of information is successful if the information is accurate and the process seamless, says Robert Harkins, senior vice president of compliance and dealer relations for Resource Automotive and its companion firm, First Extended Corp.
“You don't want a disconnect at the dealership level,” which can happen if there are “too many disparate systems,” he says. “Dealers have to embrace the technology. It is here to stay, but it needs to be on balance with the human equation.”