Dealers who own multiple dealerships, storage lots and facilities know despite internal protocols, locating vehicles still can be a hassle and lead to embarrassing situations when salespeople can't find cars for test drives. But tracking down vehicles no longer is a struggle for salespeople — and customers — at Folsom Lake Ford and Folsom Lake Kia in Folsom, California. The stores sell the wireless tracking device and app-based location service, as an F&I (finance and insurance) product, which has boosted gross income per vehicle.
"It's both a revenue-generating and an inventory-management tool"
Keeping track of vehicles at the two adjacent dealerships — which sell an average of about 3,000 new and 1,600 used vehicles a year combined — used to be a challenge. Along with a main parking lot at each store, Folsom Lake also uses two overflow lots about a quarter-mile away.
"Our cars could be at an independent body shop, an outfitter, down the street at our detailing center, out on a test drive or on one of multiple lots — maybe seven or eight different places in all," Peterson said. "It was aggravating when we couldn't find cars."
The stores tried to manage the problem with check-in and check-out protocols, but compliance was inconsistent.
"Now we know where cars are all the time, all you do is tap on the app, input the car's stock number and you know where it is in just a couple of seconds. Our salespeople love this product because finding cars was a big pain point for them. They could spend 20 minutes on a wild-goose chase, driving to different lots."
Salespeople love the technology, Peterson noted. "The time savings is a big thing," he said.
Installation of the tracking units takes just minutes. They're placed in all vehicles after they arrive at the dealerships, located about 25 miles northeast of Sacramento. The Peterson family owns the stores; the dealer principal is Chuck Peterson, Jon's father.
Customers who want the technology pay an upfront fee for three years of location service, which is renewable through the dealership. If customers don't want the technology, the device is removed.
"The beauty of it is we don't pay for the devices upfront, we only pay for them after we sell them."
Dealerships set their own prices according to their markets, said Christopher Schouten, marketing director for Kudelski and RecovR.
"We see price ranges from $599 for lower-tier brands to $1,299 for some high-line and exotic dealers, and as long as dealers hit an agreed-upon penetration rate per month, they get the advanced lot-management functionality at no additional cost."
Salespeople are trained to use the mobile app on their cellphones as part of the sales process. That exposes customers to the technology in a natural, organic way, plus they see the value of the vehicle-location service firsthand.
"That familiarity, in turn, breaks the ice for F&I managers to sell the product"
RecovR provides users with a secure system; no one except the vehicle owner can track a vehicle's location with the app, unless the owner gives permission. They also can "lock" a car's location, which results in a notification if it's moved.
Selling the product has increased F&I revenue. In the nine months after the dealerships started offering the technology to customers, average gross income per vehicle rose about $500 compared with the six months before, Peterson said.
"It's probably not all attributable to RecovR, but I think it's more than just a coincidence that F&I sales increased after we started selling it. It probably helped car sales, too — and faster transactions make for happier customers. We looked silly when we couldn't find cars and customers might get tired of waiting and decide to leave. But now we can find cars immediately"
Originally posted on AutoNews.com