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Mobile Tools Migrating Into Sales and F&I Processes

The pace of mobile technology adoption is quickening, and companies are lining up to help dealers transition to a mobile marketplace. Here’s a breakdown of seven solutions that are available now or will be in the near future.

October 2011, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Jennifer Washington

South Bay BMW’s John Kim demonstrates the lease-return feature equipping BMW Financial Services’ InfoBahn Mobile.
South Bay BMW’s John Kim demonstrates the lease-return feature equipping BMW Financial Services’ InfoBahn Mobile.

The mobile race is on. Technology companies and even F&I product providers continue to roll out solutions aimed at mobilizing processes away from the sales desk and outside of the F&I office. Industry insiders and dealer personnel are mixed on whether that future will ever be realized, but all agree that there is a place in the dealer world for today’s mobile devices.

Last year, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services became the first captive lender to introduce a dealer-facing Apple iPad solution. Now, ADP Dealer Services, BMW Financial Services, DealerTrack, Innovative Aftermarket Systems, Reynolds and Reynolds, and Warrantech are looking to do the same. Most current solutions are focused on helping dealers manage customers and their operations, but these offerings also leave open the possibility of these tools making their way into the sales and F&I process.

Fueling this trend are stats like the ones published by Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research, which showed that consumers have purchased nearly 29 million Apple iPad tablets to date. The overwhelming acceptance of these devices is allowing solution providers to move away from costly, device-dependent strategies toward more Web-based solutions that allow dealers to decide on the hardware they’ll use to access these tools.

Still, several factors stand in the way of mobile solutions completely revolutionizing the dealership experience, including regulations like the Red Flags Rule. Companies jumping on the mobile bandwagon, however, say the point of these solutions is to introduce new efficiencies, not replace a dealership’s established sales and F&I processes; how dealers take advantage of these tools is up to them.

Here’s a look at what’s available now or will be in the near future:

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