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Dealers and OEMs: Your first showroom is not your website, but your end-of-lease inspection

We welcome the first blog post by our North American General Manager, Jim O'Brien!

In my many years in the automotive industry, many short and to the point sayings describe my learnings. Things like “first lost is your best loss” and “what sells well new... sells well used” and “fix it right the first time” have identified large operational disciplines that are important to believe in and improve. Another of those saying, “website is your first showroom” is another key learning I find very relevant today.

We all know that many customers begin the shopping journey at the web browser, where they start the research, compare the models, and find their next vehicle.

Today with Covid-19 that’s even more important. But let’s stop to think how this “website is first showroom” principle applies to the ever increasing volume of lease maturing customers.

This customer’s first impression comes not from a slick OEM website listing the newest vehicles and manufacturer’s technological advancements. Or from a dealer’s local website clearly displaying inventory, chat options and a convenient nearby store. Instead, the maturing lease customers' first step can very often be with an inspection company to complete the off-lease inspection. For this important source of customer leads, the website is not the first showroom!

Our on-site inspection partners have created sophisticated scheduling systems and routing logic to complete as many inspections as possible. But they simply cannot control for every brand’s evolving look and feel nor can they manage to the inevitable bottlenecks that appear around lease maturity spikes from sales success in prior years.

Instead, inspection companies return this “hot lead” an inspection date with long lead time and wide time of day targets. Having returned many vehicles from lease, I know personally this can be a nervous time. “Will the inspector see this, have I properly cared for that?....when should I wash and vac?” When the day finally comes, this new third party is introduced saying leave the vehicle in one place for much of the day! This presents problems:

  • Inspectors look for issues with the vehicle

  • Inspectors are not customer service experts

  • Inspectors lack brand loyalty skin in game

  • Inspectors have not invested in the customer relationship over prior three years

Today’s inspection technology provides a better way: seamlessly direct customer to properly branded self-inspect lease renewal pages. Here the customer is empowered to begin inspecting the off-lease vehicle themselves where an artificial intelligence-enabled condition report, which can be completed by the customer in under one minute, automatically creates an excessive wear estimate and eliminates the need for a stranger to visit the customer in person. The customer completes this step when convenient for them. The dealer knows when the customer is engaged in the renewal process because they have initiated the self-inspect renewal step. A natural start to lease-renewal begins.

That seems better than the never ending notices OEMs send out to lease maturities as many as six month prior to termination date to start the process. The captive can ping the customer as many as 100 times during this process!

Ravin’s AI-powered mobile tools empowering customers to self-inspect their vehicles as your ‘first showroom’ to a lease renewal.

Today’s artificial intelligence based condition report technology provides OEMs and dealers a better way to present the “first showroom” through a customer self-inspect lease renewal process. Using their own phone on the timeline that works best for them, the self-inspect brings the showroom back to the lease renewal process.

As is the case with many technological advancements, a customer self-inspect lease renewal process lowers costs, improves CRM and aids to maintain high loyalty rates.

Your website is your first showroom! Technology allows for off-lease customers to begin the lease renewal process via this “first showroom” vs via a third party inspector. This means faster access to returning customers and a more natural, customer focused way to begin lease renewals. .

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