An Interview with Erick Woods
An Interview with Erick Woods

Self-proclaimed “computer geek” Erick Woods, president, MenuSys LLC, admits that he works with computers, even in his off hours. He spent 10 years as a network consultant before moving into F&I, where he’s been for the last decade. When the iPad was first released, he went and camped out at the Apple store, spending several hours with his laptop and the then brand-new technology to figure out how to get his product working on tablets before anyone else. So when it comes to finding new ways to advance F&I, he tries to make sure he’s on the cutting edge.

“[The industry will continue] the trend of moving toward technology and having it assist the business manager,” Woods said. “What is technology doing for the business manager? It’s helping them to sell products. When you look at the menu, for example, there might be five items of interest. How many does the average business manager talk about on each deal? Two? Three? Usually not all five. But if you have a video that hits all five, and gives the customer an informative look that lets them know what the product is and how it benefits them, that’s a good use-case. Technology is improving on what the business manager is able to do.”

While Woods stressed that his menu products will work on any platform or form factor – from paper to high-tech – that a dealer wants, he is currently focusing on what’s next. He noted that MenuSys was a pioneer in the realm of touch-screen menus, and he plans to continue that streak. “That’s been very successful for us,” he noted. “Having a menu that is touch-screen enabled is a whole different shift in the paradigm of menu selling, and a shift in the people who are selling.”

The Menusys technology isn’t an app that a dealer installs on a tablet – it’s browser based, so in theory it can be accessed from any device. Woods said the company officially supports the iPad, since it’s a single platform, and he knows it will work every time. Android, he said, is more hit and miss – it will work on the platform, but not on every device, making it harder to support.

“With regard to the system, it’s just easier to tell people to go get an iPad.,” Woods noted. “They trust in it, and you know it will work. If you advise someone to get an iPad, it won’t be bad advice. Android has its virtues, but for our systems, the platform is more iOS.”

Part of the power of technology is its flexibility. Woods noted that he has some customers who have business managers using the same menu system on different platforms – from paper all the way to the tablets. His business model is to be the system a dealer can deploy in any way they want, without needing his company to come back every time they want to make a change or addition – another benefit from technology.

“It’ up to [the dealer] – they can have three business managers in a store, each one using a different menu. We give the dealer all the power in the system; they don’t have to wait for products or updates. They can add to the menu, add layouts, and start selling in minutes.”

An Industry in Flux

One thing Woods noted is that he’s starting to see a shift in the market. In the past, he has mostly worked with larger franchise stores – and those are still his biggest customers. But he’s started to see more independent stores looking to deploy the same technologies. “They are wanting to do it the same way as the bigger stores, and they see the value in it, so that’s changing,” he said.

Compliance is another issue he sees remaining at the top of every dealers’ mind. And the menu, he noted, is for two things: compliance and selling. He noted that, perhaps, offering some kind of identification verification in the menu itself could be useful, but that most dealers have other systems to handle that. And because of those compliance issues, he doesn’t see the “paperless” dealership happening any time soon, either.

“Right now you’ve got people asking if dealerships are going paperless,” he said. “I haven’t encountered any – maybe one – that wants to go paperless. It’s just not a realistic process right now, and not even on the horizon for most of them.” Technology will continue to play a large and growing role, but even as much as he champions it, he doesn’t see it supplanting the status quo any time soon. But the flexibility for dealers to experiment with those technologies, and try different combinations until they find the one that works best for their organization, is the key.

“That’s the beauty of this system – you can use it on paper, you can use it on an iPad, you can use it on some Android devices, computers, laptops, large touch screens, etc. I’ve even used it on my phone – you can’t really present a menu that way, but it works if you want to try it.”

At the end of the day, Woods believes the key to success in any dealership, with any menu or technology, is persistence. “I would say, persistence pays off; be persistent with things. I look at it from the tech side of it; I’ve been doing this my whole life. But I’m very persistent, and adamant that I want to do things my way, and I make things happen. That applies equally to any task you’re doing - if you’re persistent, it will pay.”