Almost every step along the road to the sale, from the meet-and-greet to the closing of the deal jacket — whether the up buys or not – should also protect the consumer and your dealership from various personal and business risks.
Furthermore, every sales manager knows that sales associates either walk or race their ups along this road. The pace they set helps them build rapport and value in the brand, dealership and product — or it causes the sales opportunity to lurch into the ditch.
In both of these references to the road to the sale, the component that can make a positive difference is your sales associates’ compliance to various federal rules and regulations.
These regulations are in place to protect consumer information and consumer rights that your dealership is held responsible for and accountable to deliver.
Too often, however, dealerships wait until late in the deal action to put the varied compliance documents into play. Consider changing this for two reasons: One, postponement risks staff overlooking these requirements, and, two, postponement does not benefit the road to the sale process.
On the other hand, when associates are required to introduce these compliance measurements with their ups at various stages along the sales road, the time needed to handle these important steps slows down the pace of the sale.
A slower, more thoughtful selling pace can translate into more thorough and effective selling.
Engaging associates and F&I management in these various compliance actions along the way will help develop their sensitivity about these important matters. Greater awareness for compliance can only help ensure improved overall dealership compliance to matters like privacy, identity protection, and consumer finance requirements while improving the quality of each step along the sales road:
- Meet-and-Greet: The right pacing and interaction here is critical. So is capturing customer information. Do this now, entering the up’s name and other data into a paper log or CRM tool.
If a driver’s license is scanned at this step, now federal privacy laws mandate you present the customer a Privacy Notice and have it signed. The reason is due to a provision of the USA PATRIOT Act, which requires a dealer to identify the customers with which they do business. The identification must be government issued and not expired.
The most commonly used forms of identification are driver’s licenses and passports. For military individuals, obtain their LES – Leave and Earning Statement.
The act of presenting this Privacy Notice document, briefly explaining it and waiting for the customer to review and sign it gives the associate a few seconds to collect thoughts for the next step.
- Pre-Qualification: Here the associate asks questions to learn more about the customer and his or her vehicle interests and needs. The more paced and controlled this phase is, the more all parties will relax. Relaxed customers share more information.
Should the customer at this step mention credit concerns, the associate will likely ask management to pull a credit report. Be sure to inform the customer of this action, as it may affect their credit score. Additionally, pulling the credit places the dealership under the requirements of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
- Walkaround or Stock Walk: Associates should be able to present a reasonable vehicle walkaround in five minutes, hitting the highlights. Engaging customers in this step not only builds value in the products you sell, but again slows down the associate’s pace. A customer asking questions is a more involved customer, so be sure associates take time to respond carefully.
- Demo Drive: If the driver’s license wasn’t scanned before, it must be now. Present the Privacy Notice for review and signature. The dealership must have the customer’s personnel information on the license for its liability compliance and to protect the associate who is about to climb into a vehicle with a stranger at the wheel.
- Write-Up: At this stage, the associate starts pulling together stock numbers and other information related to writing up the deal. The ability to show a logical flow of the deal terms, from the first pencil to the retail installment sales contract (RISC) is an important part of the deal paperwork.
Dealerships that excel in this area will start the deal with a standard worksheet for finance, cash or lease deals. The point is that you end up with a document that clearly recaps what the customer finally agreed to.
Because a credit report is usually pulled during the write-up, this brief lag creates time to reconfirm key points with the up and otherwise mentally review next steps.
If credit is declined, the dealership is advised to prepare an Adverse Action letter, for mailing to the customer. Other regulations pertain here too, pertaining to how the deal is desked – is it free of payment packing, for instance?
- F&I: Assuming the deal makes it to the finance office, other regulations come into play. Is the manager complying with all F&I regulations, is a menu used to ensure all applicable products and services are presented and priced the same to every customer?
If not yet processed, now is the time to comply with The USA Patriot Act, which requires a dealer to make sure their customer is not on the government’s list of Specially Designated Nationals. This is done by conducting what is known as an OFAC check. There are generally three methods dealers use to conduct OFAC searches. The most popular method is through the credit report, the second is through a menu function, and the third is through an Internet search.
Finally, is the final presented price different than what was calculated in the F&I office before booking the deal? If so, the dealership must prepare and send a Risk-based Pricing Notice to the customer. If the deal falls through, an Adverse Action letter must be generated and mailed to the consumer
- Post Sale: Secure deal jackets and place them out of public eye and access. First though, all applicable deal and compliance documents must be inserted into the jacket.
This includes all Full Disclosure documents from the F&I process, all Privacy Notices, copies of Adverse Risk and Risk-based Pricing Notices, advertising documents and all evidence of disclosed price documents and presentations.
Beyond this, customer and dealership data must be kept secure from identity thieves who want to access this valuable data by hacking into dealership network systems.
Sales associates don’t interact with compliance here, but sharing with ups that their information is secure at all times might make the difference between a deal with your dealership and one down the road.