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A Better Signing Experience

Signing on tablet
Article Highlights:

  • Signing forms is important, but doesn't bring a lot of value to car buyers.
  • Tips for making the signing experience more customer friendly.

“I love doing paperwork. Hand signing that thick stack of forms, document by document, was the most exciting part of my car buying experience. I didn’t even mind waiting hours to get into the F&I office because completing all that fascinating paperwork was well worth the wait. I can’t wait to do it again next time!”

If I had to guess, this probably isn’t the type of feedback you’re getting about your F&I experience. It probably isn’t even close.

There are parts of the car buying process that bring a lot of value to the customer. The test drive is fun, informative, and customers generally get excited about it. The paperwork process that follows, although necessary for compliance, puts a damper on customer enthusiasm. From the car buyer’s perspective, there’s not much value in it.

Customers will probably never jump out of their chair to fill out all the paperwork associated with a car deal, but there are steps you can take to make their experience better. So what exactly can you do to alleviate the drudgery of the paperwork signing process for customers?

Offer different options.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach for completing a car deal because customers have different comfort levels when it comes to document signing.

Many find it faster and easier to complete paperwork on their own from home, their office, or rather… from anywhere. Others, however, may feel uneasy finalizing documents for such an expensive purchase without assistance from an F&I manager. They also may not feel comfortable sending documents with sensitive information back and forth electronically. Whatever the case, be prepared to offer customers a few different options:

  • Gone are the days of printing and overnighting paperwork to reach remote customers. Self-guided remote signing is a great option for car buyers who can’t come to the dealership or simply prefer to complete the process from another location. With the right online platform, they can confidently navigate electronic paperwork on their own and securely send signed documents back to your dealership. This eliminates the time, money, and stress that comes with shipping documents back and forth.
  • Remote signing with assistance from an F&I manager can bridge the gap for customers who’d like the convenience of looking at aftermarket products and signing documents from home, but are apprehensive about doing it on their own. In fact, 40.15% of consumers say it is extremely important to speak to an F&I expert when shopping online.1  Face-to-face communication via video chat is best to help customers feel secure and connected throughout the process.
  • Entirely in-store signing experiences are still preferred by most customers and it’s vital you use this experience as an advantage. Make sure your in-store signing process is transparent and engaging for customers. A tabletop device with electronic forms can create a more collaborative atmosphere between F&I managers and customers throughout the menu presentation and signing experience. This maximizes the opportunity for an in-person experience to generate the largest impact.
  • Flexible, hybrid signing options can really help set your dealership apart. For instance, if you’re working a deal with an in-person buyer and a remote co-buyer, being able to offer a fast and easy electronic signing experience for both parties will impress your customers. Likewise, if a customer wants to start the signing process in-store and finish it at home, the ability to accommodate them without hassle will make their experience with your dealership that much better.

If you don’t have the ability to offer all four experiences, an in-store and some kind of remote option should still largely meet customers’ needs. Offering flexible choices is an extra courtesy that will make your customers feel cared for by your dealership. They’ll appreciate having some measure of control over how they complete their car deal.

Make sure remote customers sign electronically on a user friendly platform.

Customers may expect a long and confusing signing experience, even when completing documents online. The thought of navigating a signing platform and going through the numerous documents associated with a car deal can be daunting for some.

With a user-friendly platform that walks customers through every form step-by-step, the process is much more approachable. Your signing platform should use clear, concise instructions and status updates such as a progress tracker so customers feel informed as they work through their documents. They should also be able to easily obtain electronic copies of their completed forms at the end of the process.

If customers are signing remotely, make sure it’s still convenient for you.

Don’t sacrifice efficiency just so customers can have remote signing experiences. Spending hours in the backend of an eSigning platform loading and tagging forms isn’t the best use of your F&I manager’s time. It’s also not a great way to get employees on board with the new technology you’re trying to implement. Solutions that have pre-tagged forms require less set up on your part so you can launch your remote signing options quickly and easily.

For added convenience, consider automation when evaluating signing platforms. Make sure forms push back to your DMS automatically so you don’t have to manually add them or rekey any information. Additionally, look for a solution that keeps a record of every action taken during the signing process so you can remain compliant every step of the way.

Customers may come to your dealership expecting long wait times to get into F&I and dreading the extensive signing process that follows. However, offering flexible signing options can help you far exceed their expectations. Even though signing documents may never be your customer’s favorite part of the car buying experience, you can make it a highlight through technology that gives them easy-to-use, remote options.

1 Reynolds Car Buying Unfolded Report

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Product Planning Manager for F&I applications at Reynolds and Reynolds.

Adam Bealert is a Product Planning manager for F&I applications at Reynolds and Reynolds including the docuPAD® system, docuPAD Remote, and DEALsign. He began his career in the automotive industry working in various roles across dealership sales departments. He spent time in new and pre-owned vehicle sales before becoming an F&I manager and later, a Sales Manager.

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