Remote Activities for Financial Directors

August 4, 2023
In the News

As originally appeared in Autosphere on August 4, 2023.

Author: Lilian Largier

Today, a buyer goes to a dealership, chooses a vehicle, places an option to reserve it and receives it later. But he doesn’t always understand why he has to go back to the garage to meet the finance department before delivery, when he’s been waiting months for his new car and his credit file has already been cleared.

Dealers, together with their technology partners, try to meet their needs by offering remote solutions. In Quebec, it is possible to buy a new vehicle online, often in part, and a used vehicle 100% online. Note that the Genesis brand now has a new 100% online, end-to-end business model, like Tesla.

More and more procedures available online

“Our platform has created a web component where a financial manager can send the customer 100% of the range of products available for their transaction, just as you would at a dealership, but from the comfort of your own home,” says Marie-Ève Desautels, President of FNI Prestige, which is developing the E-nov web platform, for concession use.

Buyers can simply find out more, view interactive visuals and explanatory videos of each product online, and add options or not, with no pressure.

Teleworking and hybrid working have become commonplace in people’s lives. “So the watchword for the future will be flexibility to reach them. It is possible to renew a mortgage remotely,” points out Ms Desautels.

Thanks to the specialist resources available on the internet, customers can find out more information more easily before visiting a dealership. They often calculated everything and carried out simulations beforehand. One of the trends is also that “prices are tending to align with those on the net.”

Maintaining customer contact from a distance

During the long wait for vehicle delivery, the preferred method of communication with customers is online. “It even happens that some customers shop and order their vehicles from several dealerships, because Quebec law protects customers, who can cancel an order quite easily,” says Marc-André Lefebvre, Vice President of Sales in Quebec at LGM Financial Services, a supplier of manufacturing products that supports dealerships with brochures and digital platforms for mechanical and cosmetic protection, replacement insurance and credit insurance.

The finance director must therefore maintain the link with the customer or risk losing the sale after a possible cancellation. “In today’s market, after the pandemic, life has changed. So has the automotive world, and that’s going to continue,” he predicts.

Taking advantage of opportunities to strengthen customer relations

Waiting for delivery can therefore seem like a disadvantage. But some financial managers are taking the opportunity to improve their relationship with clients who are waiting, by sending them documentation on products they may need, by e-mail or via online platforms. “When the time comes, the face-to-face conversation with the finance director will be all the more enjoyable and relaxed,” he believes. Customers often ask questions because they have been informed beforehand, “they’re not jumping into the unknown”.

It should never be forgotten that online processes are still subject to AMF standards and must comply with consumer protection rules.

Remotely, by videoconference… and with complete transparency

It may also happen that a customer needs more time to think, because they want to read the documents at their leisure. “Transparency is important to us,” says Maysa Zaraa, Finance Director at Luciani Cadillac. She is happy to send any document to the customer, as additional information to help them make an informed decision.

“It’s a relationship of trust that we’re building – there can’t be any grey areas. If the explanations are clear, if they receive the requested documentation, the customer will be reassured, they’ll have confidence, because they can see that we’re not hiding anything from them”, she explains.

Although online conversations via Teams are not “as lively” as face-to-face ones, they do accommodate customers who do not wish to travel or who have a very busy schedule. She then emails them a PDF summary of their discussions. “We don’t do remote signing though, that’s not part of our practice,” concludes Ms Zaraa.