‘The Way It Should Be’
That’s because while some members of the team in this Portland, Ore., suburb were focused on expanding the store’s footprint from 30,000 to more than 100,000 square feet and from 4.5 to 14 acres, others were developing a proprietary iPad app that aims to make the car-buying experience completely transparent.
“You won’t find this at any other dealership,” says George Lyons, a salesperson who began beta testing the software in June. Now, all of his colleagues are wielding iPads, too. “I think it’s a game changer for our business.”
Dealer Principal Russ Humberston laid the foundation when he shifted his store from a traditional MSRP-and-negotiation to a strictly one-price approach. The iPad app takes full advantage of that change, allowing Beaverton Toyota’s salespeople and customers to work through the sales process quickly and efficiently—virtually eliminating the often aggravating back-and-forth routine.
How Does it Work?
Once the customer decides on a specific Toyota vehicle, the salesperson pulls that unit up on the iPad, then guides the customer through various screens that present the full range of equipment and accessory options available on that vehicle. The customer makes selections simply by touching the screen, seeing clearly how each choice affects the bottom-line price of the deal as well as the monthly payments.
Similarly, the customer can explore financing plans available through the dealership, plug in their own interest rate (if they’ve already arranged financing through another source) and factor in any available incentive programs—again with the help of the salesperson. There’s no need to hand off the customer to a separate F&I person.
After all of the details have been sorted out to their liking, the customer can even sign off on the deal on the iPad using their finger. Due to lender and state requirements, the process isn’t entirely paperless—at least not yet. But Humberston says the typical transaction can now be completed in less than two hours.
“On average, we’re saving 1.5 hours per deal,” he says. “Our model for this was the Apple store. We designed the process around what the customer wants. And, to be honest, this is what our salespeople want, too.”
Lyons would heartily second that motion.
“With the iPad, the process is completely streamlined. I used to have to get up and go to the sales desk a dozen times. Now? Maybe twice. And I can take the customer from start to finish. Customers absolutely love it.
“The best response I ever got was from a father who said to me, ‘I didn’t even need to be here,’” Lyons continues. “He had accompanied his son to the dealership to protect him and make sure we didn’t push him around. After that, he sent his daughter to us. And she came by herself.”
In the Toyota spirit of continuous improvement, Humberston is quick to point out that the software isn’t entirely where he wants it to be just yet. But it’s clearly moving in the right—and very exciting—direction.
“Customers will spend days researching vehicles online. But once they decide what to buy, they want to get on with it,” says Humberston. “Some people are wowed by our approach. But really, this is the way it should be. Customers expect speed and transparency. We needed to change.”