CARMEL, Ind., and MESA, Ariz. — This is the kind of market penetration level SecureClose chief executive officer Ace Christian envisioned when he launched the technology company aimed at leveraging digital technology to streamline the explanation of vehicle installment contracts during delivery. SecureClose reached an agreement with Byrider where this technology can be available to franchisees who operate a buyhere, pay-here dealership in the network as well as the stores that are within the company’s corporate portfolio. SecureClose is a solution that can combine the presentation of compliant legal disclosures with electronic document presentation, E-signature, and document and presentation storage. When the dealer and consumer are ready to close their transaction, the consumer sits in front of a computer with SecureClose’s Clarify Auto Software. The tool’s virtual “closer” walks the customer through the high points of each of the pertinent documents while the presentation and consumer interaction are all recorded. The consumer executes the actual electronic deal documents using eSignature, and the signed documents and video are combined into a unique closing record that is stored for the dealer. During a phone interview with BHPH Report, Christian said he “was just a dealer who had a dream that we could, as an industry, design a system that made everyone’s closings consistent and we all said the same thing, delivering the same message and not cutting corners or trying to skip a step.” Then as a result, “The industry as a whole would become stronger and the regulators would see that we really care about our customers and want to provide a better service,” Christian added. This agreement is about two years in the making, roughly about the time Christian and his team began to deploy the technology to other dealerships much smaller in scale than Byrider, which currently boasts more than 165 locations nationwide. “SecureClose has been on our radar for a while now,” said Mike Onda, director of strategic initiatives at Byrider, who indicated that his first meeting with the technology company came in January 2015. “At that time, we instantly understood that they had identified a need in the marketplace; one that we shared with all of the other auto dealerships out there,” Onda continued. “That’s the need for consistent and compliant disclosure that do two things. One, they educate and inform the customer, which is critical. Two, they protect us from legal and regulatory issues. “I remember it like it was yesterday because a number of us left the room and said, ‘Why didn’t I think of that?’ It’s so crystal clear that they were meeting a need out there that we’re constantly thinking about.” One of the first operators in the Byrider network to deploy SecureClose is Mark Morris, who owns five franchises and also worked together with Christian earlier in their automotive careers. Morris explained how SecureClose can alleviate the problems dealerships face when the delivery closings can pile up during busy times, especially on Fridays and Saturdays. He made an analogy that potential buyers often do not come to the dealerships at regular intervals like what might happen at a doctor’s office. “They arrive more like an emergency room, so there are peak times. And during these peak times, service becomes a bit more of a challenge. Even though you try to staff at peak time, it seems like you never quite get it right,” Morris said. Depending on how many computer terminals a dealership might have at its disposal, stores using SecureClose could have three, four, five, perhaps even more deliveries being finalized simultaneously. “It’s that cliché where you never get a second chance to make a first impression. If the customer’s first impression of our company and our people is that we’re understaffed and overworked and they’re going to have to wait for a long time to do business with us, even if they choose to do business in that initial set of circumstances, that’s their impression of our company … that’s just not the impression I want to leave,” Morris said. “Reviewing contracts is an incredibly important part of our process, but it is very time-consuming as well. It should be the same every time. That’s the perfect scenario for automation,” he added. Morris shared at the time he discussed the platform with BHPH Report that his five stores had been using SecureClose for almost two months. Anecdotal feedback Morris received from repeat customers showed only positive experiences with the solution. “They’re telling us it’s a better experience. They didn’t have to wait. They felt it was very respectful because it allowed them to go at their pace,” Morris said. “I’m convinced this system enhances deliveries,” he went on to say. Onda emphasized that Byrider has a “multistep process” when evaluating potential vendors. To review SecureClose, he mentioned multiple meetings involving Christian and his team as well as technology managers at Byrider. Onda even visited dealerships using SecureClose to see the process himself. “Before I left, I said, ‘Tell me the truth.’ They said, ‘Actually we’re acquiring more stores and we’re going to roll out SecureClose as soon as we do.’ I think that showed that they not only truly believed in the product but they saw value and are going to continue to grow its use,” Onda said. Onda also mentioned how Christian and his team approached the roll-out differently since he remains a BHPH dealer in Arizona. “I specifically meet with a lot of vendors. Many of them seem to have a hammer looking for a nail,” Onda said. “They’ve got a product and they’re trying to figure out what they might do with it. “It wasn’t like that with SecureClose,” he continued. “We had a clear vision of how the product could be used in our dealerships. That speaks to the leadership that Ace and the other SecureClose executives have in running their own dealership. They created a technical product that met the needs of auto dealers that would work in the ‘real world.’” That real world means not only will Byrider stores be using SecureClose, Christian hopes the platform eventually can become a standard tool used in all sorts of dealerships, especially in buy-here, pay-here. “The old stereotype of the dealer with a cigar in his mouth and his feet up on the desk waiting for the next ‘victim,’ those days are gone,” Christian said. “Buy-here, pay-here dealers want to be compliant,” he emphasized. “They want the benefits of this ongoing digital process not only because it benefits the dealer, it benefits the consumers. Think about it. A customer is a better, happy, educated customer when the explanation is consistent.”

*As seen in BHPH Report – By Nick Zulovich, Senior Editor