Dec. 25, 2006 – The importance of speeding up the sales process

One of the companies involved in the year-long Turning Technology into Sales and Profit program is working with an Alabama dealership to quicken the sales process in two key areas: the F&I and parts departments.
“Dealers have a very narrow window of opportunity to close on powersports customers,” said Larry Koch of Tousley Motorsports in Minnesota and consultant for the series that includes five industry companies.
“Once the customer makes up his mind to buy, you, as a dealer, need to be ready to deliver. If a customer has to stand around, one of two things happen.
“The immediate gratification customer type starts to get antsy and bolts. Or, the customer starts to question his decision to buy a bike, and weighs alternative purchases, such as a new, wide screen television set or just paying the bills. It’s a case of early buyer’s remorse. You have to minimize waiting time so they don’t have the chance to walk out the door.”
To do that, Neil Frame of MIC Systems will integrate the dealership’s F&I process into Brainstorm, the new business management software that is being provided by MIC Systems to S&W, the Jasper, Ala., dealership involved in the year-long program.
“When a customer comes into the store, picks out a bike and sits down at the F&I kiosk to get loan approval and aftermarket services, there is a lot of boring information and paperwork that needs to be filled out to complete the process,” Frame said. “Every second counts at this point.
“By integrating the F&I loan credit check process with our back-end system, the customer won’t have to manually key in information, like make, model, color, stock number and other information, to apply for a loan. Data will be automatically downloaded from the dealer’s inventory. They just need to add their own customer information to finish the loan approval process.”
This process not only will save time, but potentially reduce processing errors.
“We’re setting up a three-day training session so that this ‘get ‘em in and get ‘em out with a smile’ approach is applied throughout S&W,” Frame said.
That will include the parts department.
“This is a 60-year-old dealership with 60-year-old parts in inventory,” Frame said. “We’re going to train the parts department people to use the BMS to resolve this issue.
“The goal is to get rid of the dusty, dated stuff and focus on the fastest, highest cash-turn items so that more customers coming in can get what they want, fast, without waiting or being told ‘we’re out of stock.’”
Part of speeding up the process is changing how the parts department staff take new orders.
“Right now, service people are still handwriting repair orders and then keying them into the system,” Frame said. “I see this often at many dealers — a double order process. By shifting them over to full computer use, the customer work will get done faster and the order will get processed, started and completed more quickly.
“A business management system is like a series of dominoes that all fall into place when used correctly,” Frame said. “The point here is that by lining up the sales, service and parts dominoes properly, they should all fall toward the accounting department. The accounting department, in turn, feeds back their performance in ‘getting the customer in and out with a smile’ quickly and sets up a process for continual improvement.”
And improving the speed of the sales process is key, Koch said.
“Many dealers think their competition is the other powersports dealer down the road,” he said. “That’s a very narrow way of viewing the business we’re all in. Powersports dealers are not in the powersports business. We’re in the entertainment business. Other dealers are just one part of the competitive landscape.
“Competition for customer dollars comes from your local Best Buy store, travel agents selling trips to Las Vegas or gun shops selling new hunting rifles. None of those things are needed. They’re for personal enjoyment. And all of them can be purchased quickly for immediate gratification, or before buyer’s remorse sets in.
“Powersports dealers need to recognize and build that competitive philosophy into their business approach.” psb

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