With legal risks ever increasing, Trophy's finance and insurance director Lee Smiley isn't taking any chances. The Mesquite, TX-based dealership videotapes each and every transaction conducted in the F&I department.
“We let everybody know they're going to be on camera,” he says of the company policy. “If they deny it, then we don't do a car deal.”
Smiley says sales have been forfeited “once in a blue moon” by unwilling customers. But the dealership doesn't consider it a loss.
“If they say, ‘No, we don't want to be recorded,’ then there's something shady going on — fraud, or something,” says Smiley. “So we don't do the business.”
Using video cameras to record F&I transactions may be considered controversial by some, but it's worked well for Trophy, and a growing number of dealerships have adapted the practice.
Trophy ranks No.42 overall on Ward's Dealer 500 with total revenue of $209,954,232 for 2006. Of that, the F&I department is responsible for $17,281,361, landing the dealership in third place for total F&I revenue.
Smiley says videotaped transactions also are used for training and to make sure employees are conducting F&I business effectively.
“We follow strict guidelines,” he says, calling consistency the key to success.
“We have all the right people in place,” says Smiley. “We've got longevity with our employees and we promote within the company. If I need a new producer, we do our best to promote within.”