Article

Finance and Technology: The RouteOne Approach

October 2006, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Harlene Doane - Also by this author

As a dealer, you have to love the way RouteOne has simplified the way you process and receive credit applications. RouteOne is a Web-based credit application management tool created in 2002. It’s original purpose was to replace existing systems in the dealership while streamlining the multiple credit application process that was previously required. They leave other services, like desking programs, up to the experts; instead focusing their efforts on ensuring integration of other products to what they do best – credit application management.

The core system was developed as a joint effort between the finance arms of the four major captives and their related subsidiaries, which comprise approximately 70 percent of all new vehicle purchases in the United States. The four captive owners of RouteOne are GMAC, Ford Motor Credit, Daimler Chrysler Financial and Toyota Financial Services. The finance companies pay for the product and its support through a transaction fee for applications submitted to them. They also are the primary means of marketing and training for the product to dealers. The core RouteOne product is free to dealers.

In addition to captives, RouteOne offers dealers access to a large array of independent finance sources. (For a complete list of finance sources, visit RouteOne.com). On June 28, they announced the signing of their 100th finance source. (See foot note)

“The system was designed to accommodate the dealers’ work flow, not to impede or change it,” said Brad Rogers, vice president of sales and marketing. A considerable amount of time and energy was put into the integration processes of the system to allow dealers to start the credit application process where it is easiest for them. Credit applications can begin in the RouteOne system and move to the Dealer Management System (DMS), or they can begin in the DMS and move to RouteOne in real time. There are also batch transactions, which pull data from the DMS system to RouteOne nightly to create F&I logs and other analytical reports. These reports allow dealers to evaluate the performance of specific lenders, as well as their own F&I department. This three-way integration is available for many of the 19 DMS systems currently integrated with RouteOne.

This year has been busy for RouteOne. As they have seen the need for more products to assist dealers with compliance issues, they have taken the time to research and develop outstanding solutions for dealers. One of these products, autoPEN, created by COINData, will be finishing the pilot program by the end of 2006 and should be available soon for all RouteOne dealers. Pilot programs (an introduction of a new product or service on a small number of carefully selected dealers) allow businesses to evaluate all aspects of a new product or service and make any necessary adjustments based on dealership feedback prior to a full scale launch.

The autoPEN solution will not only speed up the application process, but it solves a series of compliance issues for the dealer – from OFAC screening, to privacy safeguards and document retrieval. The autoPEN is a stylish ballpoint pen with a digital camera and miniature computer built inside. The pen’s camera, when used with special ‘smart’ paper, captures the written text, including signatures. When the dealership has completed the credit application, the autoPEN is docked in a USB port, the handwritten information is processed into legible type and all customer information is loaded into RouteOne. It eliminates data entry and performs an OFAC screen, and then it archives that data (credit application) for ten years. The customer may then leave the dealership with the original credit application. This paperless process eliminates privacy issues because the sales person never has customer information lying on their desk, and there is no file room filled with credit applications that eventually have to be destroyed.

Brad Stoeller, F&I director at Page Toyota and an autoPEN pilot dealer, is excited about the possibilities of the pen: “This is the first product in ten years that can truly streamline the front end of the sales process.”

Another product currently under construction is a stand-alone identity verification product. This product would allow dealerships to set their tolerance levels for identity verification. Then, during the credit application process, a fraud probability score would be generated. If the score exceeds the stores tolerance levels, questions would be generated that could be asked of the applicant to verify identity. These questions are “out of wallet” questions that the typical identity thief would not know, but to which answers can be found in identity databases. For example, a question might be, “What street did you grow up on?”

Just five years ago, businesses would have had no way to validate those questions, even if they had thought to ask them. This identity verification product should be available to dealers in early 2007. Dealerships who utilize products such as this could substantially reduce their legal risk.

Another pilot program about to start this year is eContracting. eContracting is not a new concept, but it has not taken off in the dealership as many in the industry expected. Rogers states the reason for this is that eContracting “requires a huge change in the dealership workflow and procedures, and that is not easily accomplished.” Major shifts in workflow processes do not happen overnight. Dealers have to be educated on the process and have a full understanding of it before it will be widely accepted.

With the number of pilot programs in place and a 40 percent increase in finance sources this year, RouteOne continues to demonstrate their commitment to their dealer base.
 

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