SalesTech Star

SalesTechStar Interview with Richard Counihan, CEO and President at DigniFi

With every industry revisiting their digital transformation plans and rethinking their marketing and sales plans, how are these changing business dynamics impacting the automotive field? Richard Counihan, CEO and President at DigniFi shares some thoughts in this chat:

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Hi Richard, welcome to this chat! Tell us about your journey through the years…we’d love to hear about the story behind the DigniFi platform as well…

I have spent the majority of my career in the automotive field either working with OEMs or automotive retailers in deploying disruptive technology platforms. Dignifi was founded with the mission and purpose of helping everyday Americans get affordable financing to pay for their car needs with the exception of the vehicle purchase. We started in the service space and now offer financing solutions across all of the different retailer departments as well as independent repair shops.

Our process is simple for the consumer, enter 4 pieces of information on your phone and get a decision in under a minute, for the retailer there is no hardware of software to be used, we let them know the customer has been approved and the work or purchase can be made. Once completed we fund the store with no recourse if the loan goes bad and the consumer is guaranteed we’ll fund the loan if approved and they get to choose 12/24/36 payments. 

We have a win-win for both the retailer and consumers and our adoption supports that statement as well as our consumer reviews.

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There’ve been a lot of evolutions in customer buying trends across industries, a few top thoughts on the key changes surrounding dealerships today?

Dealerships are fully embracing digital processes in all parts of the dealership from sales to financing to service accessories. They are also making it easier for customers to manage their car needs from offering car loaners to picking up and dropping-off cars at customer’s homes and places of work.

I would expect to see in the coming years a much easier consumer experience in buying cars more akin to other purchase where you go online to pick your car, pay/finance the purchase, figure out the trade in value, pay-off any outstanding loans etc. and then have your old car picked-up and your new car delivered, all in the comfort of your home.

What are some major sales/marketing shifts you’re seeing in this industry today, in part as a result of the pandemic and also, other impacts?

We have returned to valuing our own vehicle space over the shared ride experience or public transportation. Personal mobility now gives us the freedom to leave our home, travel the country, go to camping etc.

We want more comfortable rides, especially for families as even though rides have fallen to get to and from work, road trips with the kids are up and we want vehicles to help us manage that. Dealerships and repair shops have embraced embedded finance options today in their workflow to help their customers afford a new car, maintenance, or repairs and turn those into simple payment plans. We recently conducted a survey that found auto repair shops saw a 62.3% increase in the need for car maintenance during the pandemic. Additionally, 57.6% of dealerships also saw an increase in the number of customers denying or postponing maintenance, and 60.8% saw an increase in customers needing financing. The shifts in what customers need, especially in the last year, drive what tools sales and marketing teams need. 

Another significant shift we have seen is the uptick in sales for motorsports and motorcycles such as Harley Davidsons. The pandemic has highlighted how important it is to get outside, enjoy the outdoors and escape for a bit. In turn, dealerships have begun to market and provide more financing options for these aspirational and fun purchases.  

A few thoughts on what sales and marketing leaders in this segment can now focus on to drive outcomes, keeping in mind the core challenges surrounding the pandemic?

It’s a relatively simple message, promoting that our customers value their freedom to travel in our own vehicle more now than before the pandemic, we are all now digital, payment buyers so that must be a critical part of any offering and if anything goes wrong, we are there to help you fix and finance your repairs and get you back on the road with little stress

If everything in auto repair (booking/scheduling/car parts delivery/etc) and auto sales could be digitized: share a few thoughts on what you feel that could look like?

There should always be a personal touch to the customer experience, but customers should feel less hassle with digital additions. For example, customers can apply for DigniFi’s loans through their own devices, and most customers want the ability to do it themselves. A dealership app can help customers stay up to date on service needs and offers. It can be customized and enhance the traditional customer service experience. 

A few must-dos that every C-level executive/CEO should follow through 2021?

Your board, your leadership team and your employees should represent the customers you serve. Check in with your organization to ensure everyone is aligned and representing your customers in the best ways possible. 

If you want to extract the maximum value for your company, you need to determine If you are a multi-sided platform driven by technology with few tangible assets and if not do you have the courage to want to get there.

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 DigniFi redefines how car repair loans should be.

Richard Counihan is the CEO and President at DigniFi

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