FOOTHILL RANCH, Calif. — Although transaction times at dealerships are improving, there are still roadblocks in the process that are holding dealerships back from reliably achieving transactions times below the one- and two-hour mark, according to a survey fielded by eLend Solutions.

According to eLend Solutions’ 2016 Dealer Survey, only 25% of this year’s dealer respondents stated that their transaction times exceeded three hours. This, the firm noted, is a 15% improvement over results from its 2014 survey, when 40% of dealers cited their process as taking longer than three hours.

The number of dealers realizing sub-two-hour transaction times also grew this year, according to the firm. Out of all the respondents, 79% said that an ideal transaction takes less than two hours. Out of that, 42% indicated that they actually achieved those below-two-hour transaction times.

“We are pleased to see that transaction times are improving for some dealerships, but this continues to be a pain point for many dealers, costing them significant dollars in resources and lost opportunities,” said Pete MacInnis, CEO of eLEND Solutions Inc.

Even with these improvements, more than half of the dealer respondents are still experiencing transaction times exceeding two hours, according to the firm. The biggest factor contributing to the slowdown, according to survey results, was the transition from sales to F&I.

In fact, 68% of respondents cited the transition from sales to F&I and the time spent in F&I as the biggest slowdowns to optimal transaction times. Additionally, 73% also stated that the greatest obstacle to success in F&I and CSI is the time it takes to complete the F&I portion of the car buying process.

“These are symptoms of the ‘silo’d’ sales and F&I process,” MacInnis said. “If information flow was consistent and uninhibited across departments, a connected car buying process would be facilitated, time in F&I would be reduced, and the overall transaction times would accelerate.”

Apart from improving the transition process from sales to F&I, survey results also showed that the time at which dealers pull credit could also produce improvements to transaction times. What the firm found after looking through survey results was that a majority (44%) of dealers were waiting until the handoff to F&I to pull credit. Thirty-eight percent waited until the first pencil to pull credit, 10% waited until they were in the F&I office, and only 8% pulled a customer’s credit before the test drive. According to the firm, pulling credit earlier in the process could lead to shorter transaction times.

“We believe that pulling credit sooner is a critical — and simple — step to streamlining the process and achieving better CSI and higher closing ratios,” MacInnis said.