We continue to hear about how a one-touch sales structure can potentially improve the customer experience and offer dealers a better sales compensation structure. On the surface, using the technology available today that allows the customer to work with a single point of contact to get a quote on a vehicle, value their trade, and structure possible financing would seem to simplify the process, increase speed of delivery, and increase overall customer experience and satisfaction.
But from a dealership standpoint, moving to a one-touch structure requires some careful consideration and involves several challenges. Before taking the leap, ask yourself these four questions.
Is the sales culture in my dealership ready to support this kind of change?
The shift towards a one-touch experience is driven by the desire to improve the customer experience. But there is more to the customer experience than just the number of employees involved in a deal.
More than anything, today's consumer desires transparency, convenience, and speed. A more streamlined process would certainly help deliver on these consumer expectations. But if your current sales culture already struggles to meet these expectations, will that change simply by deciding to move to a one-touch experience? Are there changes you can implement to improve your existing sales process and culture while still maintaining a more traditional model?
A dealer may be able to reach most of their experience goals through a faster process aided by available technology without changing their entire personnel structure.
Do I have the time and resources to recruit, train, and develop staff in all areas of the sales process?
Many dealers consider a one-touch structure because it can help consolidate some of the staffing necessary to work the car deal. It is not intended for a single person to handle pricing, trade appraisal, deal structure, bank submittal, menu presentation and document delivery. In some cases, this can end up with the same number of staff working the deal behind the scenes, with just one person presenting these figures to the customer. Developing the know-how to be a true single point of contact requires extensive training. That means dealers need someone with the expertise and the time to invest in development. There will be a tremendous amount of training necessary especially with moderate to high turn-over in the salesperson position. Are you ready to make the necessary investment in the technology and training to make it work? Do you have the resources to handle this level of training and development? How many people will need to be certified in a recognized compliance program to protect the dealership?
Do I have the right pay plan to retain skilled employees and maintain total dealership profitability?
Moving to a one-touch sales process may require the implementation of a non-traditional pay plan. Have you considered the right management structure to support the sales team as well as how your compensation plan will be impacted? Some dealers have experimented with hourly or salary structures instead of more traditional commission-based pay plans. The right management structure to support the sales team and motivational factors in your pay plan will be critical.
There could be some advantages gained in a new compensation structure. Most studies show that people are seeking the right work-life balance as well as the highest possible compensation, so you could find that employees may be attracted to an hourly or salaried structure. A dealer may see a better balance in overall profitability if a one-touch process leads to a consistent profit margin and compensation balance, but your approach in developing both structure and process will be key to achieving this goal.
Do I have the right technology and process to control the pricing factors necessary for overall success?
As an industry, we are moving closer to a place where technology can help govern every aspect of a deal and provide the customer with a fully online purchase experience. But why can't we use that exact same technology to add to the showroom experience? The truth is, it is possible with available technology. Desking, trade appraisals, loan structure and submittal, F&I, and deal funding can all be managed and cross-checked with the help of technology.
However, keep in mind that technology will never fully replace the knowledge and training that comes with the experience of your current staff. Structuring a car deal can be complicated based on equity and credit, and consumers still want a human touch.
You may also want to consider the experience of your F&I product vendor’s training resources. Do they understand the one-touch structure and do they have experience helping dealers implement it? Are they committed to the level of on-going training and development this structure requires? You'll achieve the most success by partnering with a vendor who can recruit, train and certify all staff for compliance. A partner who understands the dynamics of shifting to a one-touch sales process and its potential impact to profitability.
Moving to a one-touch sales process is not a decision to be taken lightly and is not necessarily the best model for every dealership. Take the time to consider all aspects and potential consequences of making the shift.