I will be representing Provider Exchange Network again this year. All PEN providers will get a visit from me or Ron Greer. In addition, we will be calling on menu suppliers and other systems that might benefit from a PEN interface. For convenience, all my set meetings are at the ADP booth, and this is the best place to find me on Saturday. I will also be spending time at the Reynolds booth.
When I say that Provider Exchange Network has connections to F&I product providers, this really means connections to the providers’ admin systems. So, I am pleased to announce our relationship with a leading purveyor of these systems, Stone Eagle. The official announcement is here.
Electronic contracting is now available to users of the Stone Eagle SCS and ARCH systems. I particularly like ARCH. It is the AJAX based system I mentioned in my latest post on software development. Providers often ask me to recommend an admin system and, of course, I am recommending Stone Eagle.
Brian Reed has a post over at P&A Magazine on provider sites for e-contracting. I would say that he cribbed my analogy with online credit apps, but I know Mr. Reed is an old hand and he has lived through the same history.
In the mid to late ’90s, a number of auto finance companies developed their own system for dealers to electronically submit credit applications.
I agree with Reed’s central complaint about the provider sites. As I have written previously, they break the dealer’s process. I might add that DMS integration isn’t getting any easier. So, what is the best way for a product provider to support e-contracting? Continuing the analogy with online credit, Reed suggests a single web site for multiple providers. Think of Dealer Track, only with products instead of finance contracts.
I see a few problems with this idea. First, providers will not support a shared platform if it allows rate shopping. Then, of course, there is the problem of DMS integration. But the biggest problem flows from the online credit analogy.
Lenders can now bypass the aggregation sites, in favor of direct links to the DMS. Marty Zwolan calls this “disintermediation.” It’s the mission of Open Dealer Exchange. The best way to support e-contracting is to exploit a system the dealer is already using.
This week, I had the pleasure of restarting a project that has lain fallow since May 2007. Provider Exchange Network is adding a major dealer group – one we didn’t get while I was at MenuVantage. In the meantime, we have been improving our methods and developing new relationships. People and processes that were previously closed to PEN are now available.
In 1999, I drew the assignment to develop a menu system and e-contracting for AutoNation. They are still running that menu system, but without e-contracting. At MenuVantage, I finally came up with a successful approach to e-contracting and “advanced the state of the industry” – as Chris Morris kindly put it.
Someday, I will go back to my old boss at AutoNation and report this project as complete. It only took two software startups, a new business model, the combined weight of ADP and Reynolds, and a platoon of programmers. I hope he hasn’t retired.
In a few months, we will add a list of PEN Certified dealer systems. Meantime, any product providers who are not yet signed up should contact me (or Ron Greer) for integration specs and a contract.
We are ramping up for (continued) domination of F&I e-contracting. PEN is looking for a Project Manager, a System Administrator, and two Software Developers. Here is the link to our postings on Career Builder.
F&I experience is a plus, of course, maybe with a provider or a relevant software vendor.
We made a good showing at NADA. I met with every F&I provider, and now have a long list of contacts to follow up. Most are already using PEN, and they were excited to learn that ADP and Reynolds will soon join the network. To those who could not attend, I will send materials today. Here is that link again for the press release, and here is the fact sheet. Anyone I missed, please feel free to contact me directly.