The best way to learn about a product is to talk with people who use it every day, and indeed many Dealerware customers are referred to us by other dealers.
After members of their Dealer 20 group gave Dealerware positive reviews, Fox Valley Automotive Group in Illinois decided to join the ranks of dealerships modernizing service operations with the Dealerware platform.
In mid-November 2019, they launched Mobile Contracts, Connected Car Services and Toll Services at their two Volkswagen dealerships in the Chicagoland area – VW St. Charles and VW Schaumberg.
Since going live the group recovers a monthly average of about $50 per vehicle across their 43-car fleet. Plus, their biggest pain points are largely solved, from recovering toll charges to simplifying customer interactions and curbing losses due to uncertainty about damage.
Before switching to Dealerware Fox Valley’s two Volkswagen dealerships used CDK tools to manage loaner contracts, but felt they needed more automation, simpler contracts and ways to address key shortcomings in their service experience.
During setup, Dealerware helped simplify their contracts so that customers who visit Fox Valley service departments can view and agree to a summary of their loaner terms on a mobile device. With no printing or typing involved, Dealerware Mobile lets service advisors scan licenses to auto-populate customer agreements, gather payment information and attach photos of insurance cards for coverage.
The Dealerware implementation team also helped set up cost recovery options; fuel costs weren’t a priority for Fox Valley, however they wanted to stay on top of damage and recover toll charges incurred by customers in loaner vehicles.
As with most Dealerware implementations, Fox Valley Auto Group’s two VW stores were fully set up and ready to recover costs after just two short meetings held over video calls.
The recovery story
Fox Valley Auto Group’s priorities with Dealerware were recovering toll fees, mitigating damage losses and recouping any fuel costs when vehicles returned without a fresh tank.
Fuel costs were the simplest issue to tackle. “Every one of our customers gets a full tank so there’s no surprise when they return – either the car has a full tank or it doesn’t,” said Gabrielle Abinion, general manager for Fox Valley VW of St. Charles.
“We present it to the customer the same way a rental company would, but we err on the side of fairness and are not overcharging for fuel,” Abinion said. Though her team isn’t tightly focused on fuel recovery, she does find Dealerware an effective way to recoup costs if a customer doesn’t return with a full tank.
Tracking damage to loaner vehicles was a bigger concern for Abinion and her team. She said that Dealerware’s in-app damage tracking features are a welcome addition to the dealer group’s relatively new emphasis on damage loss prevention.
About two years ago, uncertainty about damage to loaner vehicles was too often leaving the dealership stuck with repair bills. Abinion said that high-definition cameras in the service lane were an important first step in solving regular damage disputes, and Dealerware Mobile now offers the close-up view.
“It’s definitely a foolproof system now that we have Dealerware,” Abinion said. When service advisors greet customer in the service lane, “they’re doing a walkaround with the loaner vehicle and any imperfection, no matter how big or small, we’re zooming into it, taking video while running a fingernail across it and getting a really accurate depiction of what’s going on with every vehicle,” she said.
For Abinion, automated toll collection is really the key difference between Fox Valley’s previous fleet management system and Dealerware.
“Tolls are not an issue whatsoever anymore. Now our system is completely automated. Before we had toll receivers in the vehicle but we’d not only have to close out the agreement through [the old CDK] app, we’d also have to log onto the Illinois toll website, search that specific toll transponder number and then look at the date range the customer had the vehicle. Then we’d add up the total and charge the customer on a separate line,” Abinion said.
“We were getting the job done but [without Dealerware] it was a difference of 15 to 20 minutes for every contract,” she added. Now, service advisors are working more efficiently and turnaround time for customer pickup and dropoff is much quicker.
Better still, Abinion mentioned how the old process of checking for toll charges when customers returned a vehicle was detracting from the overall experience.
“The customer returns with a car and says ‘no, I didn’t go through any tolls,’” Abinion said. “Before we still had to make sure that was the case – now we don’t have to go through those extra steps before a customer can leave, and we have a better way of interacting with our customers.”
Becoming power users
Dealerware promised modern fleet management for the modern retailer. For Fox Valley, that meant flexibility to add to the platform any vehicle on their lot, a feature that was useful when they needed to deliver some particularly important loaner vehicles.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Fox Valley leadership team agreed they wanted to support their community in Chicago. The dealer group’s motto, “Moving People,” provided an idea: if Fox Valley Auto Group could help medical professionals get to and from work more quickly and safely, then those people could save more lives.
Fox Valley found their opportunity to help through Cal’s Angels, a local nonprofit that helps families fighting pediatric cancer at Chicago’s Lurie Children’s hospital, and who Fox Valley have been supporting in other ways for the past 12 years.
Cal’s Angels gave the Fox Valley leadership team a list of names – doctors and nurses who were walking home or using public transportation after 12-hour shifts at Lurie. A few days later, Fox Valley cars were heading out, but it wasn’t the fleet Abinion expected. Limitations with their insurance meant the group had to use their own inventory from both VW dealerships and Fox Valley’s Buick GMC dealership.
With a quick call to Dealerware’s support team, Abinion was able to add several GM vehicles so they’d be covered with the dealership’s existing loaner contract and the Fox Valley team could track toll charges on the vehicles.
The morning of the planned delivery, Abinion downloaded the Dealerware Mobile app on her own phone and loaded up the names of the nurses and doctors receiving vehicles.
At the hospital, “it was just a matter of searching for the name of the person in front of me, selecting whatever vehicle they were taking in Dealerware, clicking through terms and conditions and a quick signature – then they’re done.”
“Dealerware made it so much easier to do this,” said Emir Abinion, Fox Valley Auto Group president. “We had to figure out a way to make this convenient, secure and easy not only for us but for the nurses taking these cars. Within a day Gabi and her team got the Buick GMC vehicles ready and we were able to do everything for this on the cell phone and we were covered on the legal aspect.”
For more on Fox Valley Automotive Group’s loaner vehicle donation to nurses and doctors in Chicago, read this Automotive News story.