Auto dealerships can get poor customer-satisfaction marks if a finance and insurance product presentation takes too long for time-conscious customers.
That's why many new F&I tools of the trade use technology to speed up the process.
One such time saver is Zurich's F&I Rate Track, an online system designed to give dealerships fast and accurate pricing for vehicle service contracts based on such variables as make, model, mileage, terms and extent of coverage.
“It's all about speed, speed, speed,” says Bill Stoothoff, vice president-F&I for Zurich North America Commercial's Direct Markets unit. “In the past, the customer could be in the F&I office for hours. Our goal is to get them in and out in 30 minutes.”
Every minute matters, says Stoothoff who estimates Rate Track can trim five minutes from the presentation process.
The system uses VIN explosion, a software application that rapidly decodes vehicle identification numbers to define the characteristics of individual cars.
“With Zurich's F&I Rate Track and its VIN exploder, it's virtually impossible to rate a vehicle incorrectly,” Stoothoff says. “Rate Track is way beyond comparing Web-based software to printed rate books, and it's different than Web-based technology that uses software with pick-lists.”
Pick-lists were a definite improvement from printed books, he says, “but pick-lists still allowed for operator error.”
VIN explosion doesn't just reduce input errors, it eliminates them, he says. “The information is coming directly from our system” and integrates with the dealer management system (DMS).
Online dealer-to-insurer submission of vehicle service contracts is the next step.
“We are laying the groundwork for dealers to transmit information to us online,” Stoothoff says. “Many of the procedures we put in place in Zurich's F&I Rate Track are purposely there in order to make a seamless transition to an online submission tool.“
Rate Track had been available on CD discs. The Web-based version is being rolled out this year at no charge to dealers who do business with Zurich.
“This helps dealers and it helps us,” Stoothoff says. “In the long run, it drives down costs, and is a clean way of doing business. Like any new technology, it takes a while for people to adapt.”