When I moderated the Executive Panel at Industry Summit this past September, I teed up a question on the mobile menu by noting that the tool was left off our 2014 agenda for the first time in two years. The reason was we just hadn’t heard of any newsworthy developments to warrant an entire session dedicated to the tool. So why is it on the cover of our special NADA Convention & Expo issue?

There are several reasons, starting with Tony Dupaquier’s Stump the Pro column on Page 32. I’ll just say Tony’s interest in the mobile menu stems from his dealer clients’ interest in the hybrid sales/F&I process he has developed.

In fact, I heard Tony talk about his one-touch process during a training session he hosted in early December. He admitted it’s not for every customer or dealership. In fact, he said the hybrid process is best suited for luxury stores, dealers who subscribe to the one-price strategy and Internet customers. He listed a few other situations, but I believe the Internet shopper is the main reason interest remains in a process that doesn’t have a history of success. And the thought is that the tablet menu could be the hybrid process’ missing link.  
So the question I posed to the panelists was this: Is there a place for mobile technology in F&I? Protective Asset Protection’s Tim Blochowiak responded by detailing plans PayPal revealed to him during a meeting more than a year ago.

“They were talking about the future of retailing ... and how people are going to pay and be drawn in to buy stuff. And it’ll all be on a mobile device,” he said. “So there will come a day when you’ll walk past a store and you’ll get a coupon that will flash up on your phone, ‘25% off the shoes that I know you like, because these are the one’s you’ve been buying.’ The technology is going to be out there and we have to find ways to use it.”

National Auto Care’s Tony Wanderon was a little more direct. “I keep saying I think the world’s changing a whole lot faster than we realize. Sometimes we just need to wake up and catch up.”

OptionSoft’s Ken Tomaro was the only technology exec on the panel. Yes, he believes there is a place for mobile technology, and, yes, his company does offer a mobile menu. But because technology changes so fast, he said he’s just not sure if what’s available today will be tomorrow’s answer.

Then there’s iTapMenu’s Shawn McCool. He remains just as committed to his mobile menu as he was when we interviewed him for our June 2012 cover story. But that’s not why the tablet menu is back on the cover. The real reason has to do with the F&I manager we interviewed for this issue, Lisa Kline.

See, I was pretty set on not giving the mobile menu any more ink until there was a major development, but then I came across Lisa’s response to a question posed in a Facebook group for F&I managers. The poster asked if anyone had heard of iTapMenu. Lisa’s response: “I use it. It is fantastic.”

When we first featured McCool’s tool back in 2012, we asked if we could interview some of his pilot dealers. I pledged then that if we revisited his tool, we’d seek out dealers who discovered it on their own, which is the case with Lisa’s store. By the way, neither the Internet shopper nor Gen Y were motivating factors in her dealership’s adoption of the iTapMenu.

What I find interesting about the mobile menu are the strong emotions it stirs, especially among veteran F&I managers. And I get it. Having read and edited articles written by some of the best F&I trainers in the business, I’ve noticed that none of their teachings center on a tool. Rather, they talk about mindset, preparation, approach and discovering the customer’s need for a product.

And that’s why veteran F&I managers feel so insulted when vendors claim their tools can deliver amazing increases in per-copy averages. Heck, I’d feel slighted, too, if someone told me a tool could accomplish what took me years to perfect. Personally, I don’t think vendors realize that’s the message they’re sending.

Tony said something else during his seminar that stuck with me. He said he used to judge his techniques on whether they could sell and close his father. He then pointed at my associate editor, a Gen-Yer, and added, “Today, I’m trying to figure out how sell to her.”
Yes, maybe technology can’t deliver sales, but maybe we need to consider how our processes are received by these coming-of-age generations. Hey, they won’t be on Mom and Dad’s couch forever.

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Gregory Arroyo
Gregory Arroyo

Gregory Arroyo

Gregory Arroyo is the former editorial director of Bobit Business Media's Dealer Group.

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Gregory Arroyo is the former editorial director of Bobit Business Media's Dealer Group.

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