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5 Steps to Desking a Car Deal in Less than 10 Seconds

News and Insights August 29, 2022

By: Tom Ryan
8 minute read

There are certain givens in car buying and selling. One is desking — reaching an agreement on price, payment, and financing terms. Traditionally speaking, desking tends to be a long, tedious process. Consumers don't like it, but have accepted it because it has been the norm in the retail automotive industry. Fortunately, new technology has paved the way for a faster, easier, more streamlined desking process that both consumers and dealers like. This article will provide tips for improving the retail automotive desking process and walk you through a five-step technology-enabled method for desking a car deal in 10 seconds or less.

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The Traditional Automotive Desking Process

Even if you've worked in the retail automotive industry for years, you've probably sat through a desking process a time or two on the consumer side of the equation. When considering the process from that consumer perspective, desking takes up a lot of time. There are multiple steps with different people involved. While the process is necessary, times have changed. More importantly, consumers have changed.

Technology has made so many aspects of our lives faster, easier, and more streamlined. As a result, consumer expectations have shifted dramatically — especially when it comes to buying things. 

Think about it. How many clicks does it take to buy something on Amazon? One? Two? Believe it or not, it can take none. You can either get a subscription, or you can say something like, “Hey, Alexa. We're out of toilet paper.” 

While buying toilet paper is nowhere near as large or significant of a purchase as a vehicle, consumers experience this type of fast, easy, and streamlined buying process almost daily and expect it in all aspects of purchasing experiences. So when consumers are sitting and waiting for hours in a dealership while their salesperson huddles and re-huddles up at the desk with the F&I manager to crunch the numbers that will seal their financial fates, they get cranky. Sometimes they even walk — and it’s not just due to the price, payment, or financing terms. It’s due to the poor experience. Remember: Consumers are accustomed to a fast, easy, and streamlined buying process. They don’t have the time or the patience for what looks and feels like pageantry. (Don’t blame us. Blame Jeff Bezos?)

At the same time, the traditional way of desking also puts a strain on a dealership’s internal resources. The old-fashioned desking process takes at least one team member off the floor for hours. And when multiple car deals are being desked simultaneously, those team members and hours off the floor compound quickly.

A Better Way…

The right retail automotive technology will support the processes that work well for your dealership while reducing the time (and effort!) it takes to get customers to sign and drive. The right retail automotive technology is the FUSE Finance Management System. Here’s why.

A FUSE technology-enabled transaction starts with Dynamic Payments to ensure your dealership’s website offers, specials, and digital ads are updated daily based on current and incoming inventory . That way, potential customers always have access to your hottest deals online. Real-time data also gives customers more control and transparency into accurate pricing, payments, and terms.

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Next, FUSE Digital Retail integrates directly into your website VDP, providing those customers with everything they need to make a purchasing decision right at the moment of interest. This also allows the customer to complete some steps in the desking process before they even set foot in the dealership.

FUSE’s automotive desking solution, Transact, takes over in-store, integrating legacy software platforms into a single end-to-end solution for a fully digital transaction that can be managed by one person. Yes, you read that correctly. FUSE Transact eliminates the need for customers to interact with multiple systems or team members to find the right vehicle and offer — creating a guided, linear path to accelerate the sales process. Customers see real offers from real lenders with the lenders’ logos clearly displayed.

One Price, One Person

Now, we realize that implementing such a hugely transformative technology will impact much more than just the customer experience. That’s why our Consulting division works hand in hand with dealers to analyze existing processes and ensure that the FUSE Finance Management System is rolled out in support of them.

Many dealers move to one-price sales models while onboarding our technology. Also referred to as no-haggle, upfront, or value pricing, the one-price car dealership model requires that a vehicle is sold at a set price that’s non-negotiable. This method expedites the sales process automatically, significantly reducing customers' time in the desking "hot seat" before getting the keys to their new ride. There's no back and forth on price because everyone knows upfront what it is.

Insights: Dealership Pricing Strategy: Understanding the One-Price Model

Most of these one-price dealerships also transition to a single-point-of-contact (SPOC) approach. This strategy harmonizes well with the one-price sales model to create a seamless customer experience. A key advantage of SPOC selling is efficiency, because only one individual manages the entire transaction — from vehicle selection to test drive, financing, closing, and delivery. Customers deal with one person instead of being passed from one team member to the next.

How to Desk a Car Deal in 5 Quick Steps in Less than 10 Seconds

All right. Let’s get back to FUSE Transact, where the desking-a-car-deal magic happens in 10 seconds or less. Following is our secret sauce — a five-step technology-enabled desking method for a faster, easier, more streamlined in-store transaction.

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Step 1: Select the Vehicle

With the right automotive retail software, your customers can easily select their desired car and get pricing information quickly. FUSE Transact integrates with your inventory, so every car and every change gets captured. The selling price of the vehicle is updated in real time, including Bookout values for used cars, for accurate pricing 24/7. This ensures payment options and customization are always spot-on. Customers can buy any car in FUSE, even if it's not in the inventory, just starting with a VIN and simple pricing information. It’s that easy.

Step 2: Customize Payment and Options

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Today’s consumers are accustomed to shopping around. The so-called “Priceline effect” has led dealers to move to a more transparent model where customers can see their payment options from leading lenders early in the process. 

With desking software like FUSE Transact, car shoppers see offers made by banks and lenders rather than from the dealer. This transparency and the effect of selection and comparison builds trust with the customer. In a traditional dealership, the salesperson will get up, walk to the desk, likely with a printout, and ask the boss for the math. Lenders are not often mentioned. With FUSE, you can present and adjust these offers in real-time. It integrates with other digital retailing solutions like Marketscan and provides the ability to customize lending programs so that dealers can present specific lenders and programs or all lenders and programs. Fees, taxes, rebates, protection products, accessories, and trade-ins are all customizable to the state, dealership, OEM, and customer. Here’s an example:

With digital desking software, a customer can instantly enter a new down payment amount to reveal a lower monthly payment. In a traditional dealership, changing the amount down and terms would require another desk visit by the salesperson.

Leaving a customer alone to wonder what's going on in the process of such a high-ticket transaction can create doubts (e.g., "Are they talking about me? Am I getting a good deal?"). Not to mention the time it takes to go back and forth customers may wonder why they can't talk to the person behind the desk themselves. With FUSE, you can do the math right there in front of the customer. Everything happens faster, and the customer has control over the process and all the information they need to make a decision.

After all the customization, the car can be swapped easily at different price points. You don’t have to restart the deal. FUSE Transact works to save customers’ information progress so salespeople can pivot on the spot. You can be in the middle of doing payments and then drop a different car in and keep going. You can stay right where you are on the payment page, swap out the vehicle, and move forward. This takes care of a lot of the time-consuming work and builds customer trust.

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Step 3: Complete Credit Application

Another feature that saves time with digital retail software is allowing customers to fill out and edit the credit application themselves – at the dealership or via FUSE Transact online.

Because we collect all required information according to each state, we can calculate fees correctly, so customers and dealers have accurate payment info at the time of the deal.

FUSE Transact also makes it easy for dealers to keep track of deals. From the dashboard, you can see all the deals in the queue as well as the deal jacket. Salespeople can see the deals they're managing, and management can view all deals in the works, edit markups or fix errors at any point in the process.

Step 4: Get Signatures

The next-to-last step in the new desking process is gathering signatures. With digital retail software, customers can eSign at the end of the credit application – meaning they can be located anywhere convenient for them (unless you require paper documents at your dealership).

Step 5: Submit Deal

You've reached the end of the process. It's time to submit the deal. The FUSE platform integrates with RouteOne, one of the approved portals for accepting loan applications (integration with DealerTrack will be available soon). Since FUSE integrates with RouteOne, you don’t have to log in separately. All customer, deal structure, and vehicle data get pushed into RouteOne for you.

At the same time, important information is pushed to the DMS. There are a couple of configuration options where the data gets pushed into the DMS so that the customization can match your processes and preferences.

The Bottom Line: Sell More Cars in Less Time

Almost every dealer would agree that time equals money. Reducing the desking time presents significant opportunities to increase efficiencies, sell more cars and make customers happy simultaneously. At FUSE, we think of it as “working with the customer” vs. “working the desk.” Making the process simple and quick, as well as more transparent, for the customer shows that you respect their time and are eager to provide good service. It also reduces the time your salespeople spend with each customer, freeing them up to help other customers with the same efficient service.

Customer experience is the current battleground for dealers looking to expand their market shares, and improving transparency and speed in the in-store experience is one of the biggest and best opportunities available. Simplifying the desking process benefits dealers, salespeople, and customers. With training and hands-on help from our Consulting group, your sales team will be up to speed in no time.

Get in touch now or request a demo of our technology to discover how FUSE can streamline your dealership's desking times down to 10 seconds or less.

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