WardsAuto: There has been a lot of talk about striving for the 1-hour car deal. What’s the perfect time limit for getting a customer in and out of a dealership?

Lamb: I am a staunch critic of the 1-hour car deal. I think it is false advertising first of all.

The data I’ve seen is four hours and 15 minutes to five hours is the average time it takes from the time someone steps on the lot and takes delivery of a purchased car. But about half of that is wasted, waiting time.

Traditional F&I takes 45 minutes to an hour if you are going to do a good job. With docuPad, we can shave 15 minutes, yet present every product correctly. We can save time and give a better experience.

On a vacation, my wife and I stopped into a dealership because that’s how I am. I heard about this dealer who was doing something with Add.On.Auto, our accessory-configurator product. They have a little room, very comfortable with big comfy couches. It has pictures of the top 10 accessories they sell. They say, “Congratulations on your new car, relax, have a bottle of water, it will take a few minutes to pull the paperwork together, why don’t you hang out here?” Then another guy comes in and says, “Let me show you (on the Add.On.Auto accessory screen) some things and how they work. Then the customer starts using the configurator. They are killing it.

WardsAuto: Where is this?

Lamb: This is one of the Gillman Honda stores in Houston.

WardsAuto: The late Ramsay Gillman’s store (now run by his three children and part of the Gillman Auto Group, No.64 on the 2015 WardsAuto Megadealer 100)?

Lamb: Yes, yes. So you need that time. We are seeing a $250,000 lift in profit on that approach. You don’t want to skip that stuff. That is another 20 minutes.

WardsAuto: So it is quality time vs. just gross time?

Lamb: Some dealers who advertise the 60-minute car deal don’t start the clock until the customer lands on the car, and they don’t include F&I time.

When the industry gets serious about quality time, you will see some OEMs go to 1-price or standard-price selling. That will shave off two hours. The average dealer makes about 2% profit on the sale of a car. That means you are spending a lot of time negotiating something that has a small margin. You can spend it on other things offering a greater return.

Plus, if you standardize prices, you will attract more talented younger people to the business. We’ve seen a lot of positive things with the Apple Genius Bars and the young people who staff them.

Millennials don’t want to negotiate at a dealership, either as a customer or as an employee. They want to educate. It’s: “I’m not selling you, I’m educating you so you can buy.” That makes people more comfortable.

WardsAuto: Does a dealership having an up-to-date IT system help employee retention, especially the retention of younger employees?

Lamb: Yes. Also there is this: Does employee satisfaction impact customer loyalty? Absolutely. Do tools and technology impact employee satisfaction? Certainly. Therefore, tools and technology impact customer loyalty.

With 52% of dealership new hires being Millennials, if they look at a system that requires 15 screens to do a 3-line repair order, they say, “You’ve got to be kidding me.” They want two screens and a pop-up box.

WardsAuto: How much psychology goes into your planning and product development?

Lamb: More than I would care to admit.

WardsAuto: You don’t have a staff psychologist, right?

Lamb: No, but we have done a lot of work concerning the human element. An example is docuPad. In Western culture if (a salesperson) gets closer than two or three feet (to a customer), that person is like “Wow, you are in my space.”

We engineered docuPad so that when the F&I manager and customer are looking at the screen, they are leaning in, but they are within that 3-foot buffer. 

sfinlay@wardsauto.com