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As reported by Automotive News, Audi has begun integrating iPads into their franchise dealer’s sales force. With their iPad tablets, which they’ve named, Sales Assist, they believe that young consumers will feel more comfortable as they use technology which “lets shoppers compare Audi models to rival models, configure an Audi vehicle or see what’s available in a dealer’s inventory.” Also integrated into the app are negotiation and finance tools designed to streamline the sales process and reduce the time a consumer spends at a dealership when purchasing a vehicle. This creates a more efficient sales department and a better customer experience.
One of the chief complaints heard repeatedly by consumers is how long it takes to purchase a vehicle. Using technology to streamline the process allows the entire sales department to operate more efficiently. It makes the process of desking deals faster, freeing up sales managers; creates more opportunity for salespeople as the time spent with any given customer is reduced; and enables the finance department to process customers faster. Most people involved in the sales process at dealerships recognize that the time a consumer spends waiting to go into finance is the most dangerous to the sale, as consumers sit and have time to think about their purchase decision. I’m sure that many dealers have encountered customers blowing out of finance due to getting cold feet or doubts during that wait. Creating a more efficient experience in sales would reduce this time and help prevent these occurrences. Technology could also allow employees to be more productive in other areas, including prospecting and customer follow-up.
It’s great to see manufacturers embracing the use of technology in dealerships to enhance the customer experience. At AutoPoint, we’ve been preaching the value of using technology to achieve the exact same results for service departments. Dealers are starting to recognize that an investment in technology actually increases revenue. Even though dealers rely on the service department to absorb costs, the sales departments are typically most visible; customer acquisition and sales are the main focus. However, as dealerships experience how the use of technology transforms their sales departments, they should realize that the same, if not better, results are possible from the integration of technology into their service departments.