eLEND Solutions says its ID Drive technology for validating new-car shoppers and pre-qualifying them for loans is catching on with dealers. Now it just has to ensure it does the same with those on the sales floor.

With eLEND’s ID Drive software, dealership sales staff can electronically scan a customer’s driver’s license prior to heading out for a test drive and get instant verification the identification is accurate and there are no red flags that present a liability risk for the dealer. It also will update the customer’s information, correcting addresses and adding cell-phone numbers, for instance.

All that information goes directly into the dealership’s customer-relationship management software, allowing the sales staff to follow up with that potential buyer later if he or she walks away from the test drive without purchasing a new vehicle.

In one 6-month pilot, 61% of the shoppers whose licenses were scanned by ID Drive were not already in the dealer’s CRM system, meaning its use has the potential to significantly expand a dealer’s market reach, the company says.

“So now the dealer is able to capture that information even if (the customers) don’t buy today,” says Pete MacInnis, founder and CEO of eLEND Solutions.

In conjunction with eLEND’s CreditPlus interactive online and in-store software, it also can do a quick credit check, so by the time the test drive is finished a pre-approval on financing is available along with a full list of lender options to help the sales team shape the deal.

MacInnis says the technology can shave a critical hour off the sales process and improve dealer profitability. He points to the pilot program in which one retailer saw gross profits per car rise $300 and per-vehicle fixed costs decline $200 due to the eLEND products.

The software also increased the dealer’s customer-satisfaction scores by four points, MacInnis says.

ID Drive also can help keep retailers out of trouble. Huntington Beach Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram in California says during its 6-month test the software identified red flags that might have caused expensive problems for the dealership in 43% of the scanned licenses.

“We’re bringing finance to the front of the sales process,” MacInnis tells WardsAuto, noting studies show less than 1% of car buyers are happy with the sales process of today. “We’re creating efficiencies. We want to reduce the time to buy a car from hours to minutes.”

In an eLEND survey late last year, 36% of dealers queried said the sales process should take under an hour start to finish, but only 11% said they were achieving that mark.

MacInnis says some dealers also credit ID Drive with turning more shoppers into buyers, citing conversion rates that jumped to 43% from 23%. Huntington reports 53% of customers who opt in for the pre-qualification ahead of the test drive end up purchasing, compared with 34% of those who do not.

The trick, MacInnis says, is getting the sales staff to use the license-scanning system and not fall back on old habits of simply photocopying a test driver’s license or not collecting any information at all prior to a test drive.

“In the first month dealers put it in…they get a few salesmen to use it, but most of them are still running to the copy machine, walking right by (the ID Drive scanner),” MacInnis says. But once the dealer sees what it can do in terms of qualifying customers, boosting profits and dodging potentially dicey transactions, plus the time it can shave off the sales process, using ID Drive tends to become mandatory, he adds.

“(Salespeople) are very slow to evolve,” MacInnis says. “It’s ‛This is the way we’ve always done it.’ But the consumer is revolting about that. It’s a matter of does (a dealer) want to be left behind or move forward?”

dzoia@wardsauto.com @DavidZoia