Car Dealer Transforms Business with iPad

iPad and customers

A car leasing and sales company in Phoenix has jumped into the Apple iPad pond with both feet. It claims to be using the device “in every aspect of our business, every moment of the day.”

From what I gather, its best use is as a customer relations tool. You, the sales guy, can show a customer every car on the lot in a few minutes, including options, different views, special deals.

Special available software performs appraisals, calculates financing and payments, and basically completes the whole transaction, sending the information to the sales office for printout.

All the while, you’re standing on the lot, schmoozing. No more running back to the office for data. You stay with the customer, answering his questions, walking him quickly through the process, and very much shortening the transaction time—to everyone’s benefit.

The iPads at RC Auto all sync with PCs and Macs in the office, of course, so you can keep track of contacts, read and send emails, and make appointments. The company president says that the iPad has enabled him to triple the size of his used-car inventory (and his sales), “from 25-30 cars per month to 75-100 cars per month, without any additional staff.”

Sure, lots of dealers use laptops, but the iPad is a far better, more flexible, more dramatic way to provide mobility and share information immediately with the customer.

Car Deal CalculatorGood apps are quickly appearing—among them lease and loan calculators and one that figures and displays the whole deal, including a trade-in (right).

Mercedes-Benz Financial is equipping 40 dealerships with iPads loaded with company software. This gives dealer salespeople “instant access to marketing programs for different models,” while shortening the credit approval process. It makes such things as returns of leased cars quicker and more convenient.

The big drawback of the iPad, in my view, is its lousy onscreen typing system. I guess you can get used to this. There are some good tips here, and the autofill feature is nice. You can always get an add-on keyboard; several good models are available.

The iPad should really be a boon for car dealers. But smart customers will still check out their prospective buys (and trade-ins) on DealFinder before they visit a dealer.

As a car buyer, do you see advantages in buying from a dealer whose sales force uses iPads? What are they?


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  1. To me the biggest advantage would be to quickly locate vehicles of interest while out in the back lot. Generally the window sticker gives as much info as the sale person would be able to give you from a database, but being able to quickly eliminate cars with features you don’t want (such as a manual transmission) would save a lot of walking around and reading stickers. Inside the dealership, the ipod is simply a remote computer system, so I see no advantage in the negotiation/paperwork cycle.

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