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Software & Technology

eContracting Connection Getting Closer

November 2007, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Kelli Wood - Also by this author

eContracting promises to revolutionize the F&I office, but the question is when will this promise be delivered? Captive finance sources are on the move with pilot programs, but there will be more to report in the next few years. With dealers content with the way they do things now, there is no rush to get eContracting out there, and companies are taking their time to get it right.

 

Although the technology is there, many other factors prevent eContracting from making a huge impact on the industry right now. Software needs to be implemented that reduces contract errors, thus preventing slow contract acceptance and customer re-signs. Also found to be problematic is the data access debate. If eContracting software is not seamlessly integrated to whatever DMS provider the F&I department works with, dual entry will be required, increasing the chance for errors.

 

One technological advance that is still progressing is the move to a paperless dealership. Although the electronic contract does provide a step toward this, there are still other customer forms required by law that need to go electronic.

 

Financing sources are continuing to work out those kinks as the popularity of eContracting increases in the industry.

 

“I think the concept is really starting to grab hold in the industry. Dealers are much more aware of eContracting and how it’s going to benefit them. I think the anticipation is building. I am seeing the industry starting to get excited about the concept,” said Todd White, eContracting program manager for Ford Credit. “I think the finance sources all see this as the future and are doing what they can to get on board.”

 

A Slow and Steady Approach

 

Most captive finance sources are still in pilot mode with dealerships and are constantly making improvements to their products based on the feedback those dealerships provide.

 

“There have been solutions out there that have had their challenges and we’ve been working hard in pilot mode with our solutions. Our focus is getting it right, not getting it out there quickly,” said Brad Rogers, vice president of sales and marketing for RouteOne. Started in 2002 by four of the largest captive companies — GMAC, Chrysler, Ford and Toyota — the collaborative effort is working toward the industry’s eContracting future. It also recently added Mercedes-Benz in August.

 

GMAC’s approach is to offer eContracting as dealers demonstrate demand for it. The company is currently in pilot with RouteOne, having contributed human and financial resources to the development of the eContracting project. “eContracting is a developing trend at this point,” said Michael Stoller, GMAC spokesperson.

 

Chrysler Financial has been in pilot mode for about a year and a half, and has more than 300 dealers in its program in 20 states. The company has taken the time to ensure its eContracting solution works well for every dealer rather than rushing a solution that may be difficult to adopt. The company continues to make changes to accommodate dealer needs and make eContracting more streamlined and easier to use.

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