As a dealership, you may offer customers a complimentary loaner car while their vehicle is being serviced. However, maintaining a fleet of loaner cars can be challenging, and you may encounter additional costs, such as fuel, tolls, and violation fees.
With more states transitioning to all-electronic tolling and the construction of new toll roads and express lanes, tolls may be impacting your dealership's bottom line. Managing toll charges can be time-consuming and may cause concerns about customer satisfaction. To help mitigate these additional expenses, here are few tips to implement:
The first step in streamlining toll collection is to register your dealership's vehicles with the local toll agency. This eliminates paperwork and reduces fees by avoiding additional processing charges. In some states, customers can move their personal toll transponder from vehicle to vehicle and use it in the loaner. However, there is a risk of the toll agency not reading the transponders or double billing. In these situations, registering your vehicles with the toll authority ensures you don't have to deal with paperwork, customer calls, and additional fees.
The second step is deciding whether to use a transponder or pay-by-plate. Using a transponder has benefits such as quicker toll charges because the toll agency does not have to perform costly and time-consuming license plate reading. Some toll agencies also offer a reduced rate for using transponders. The challenge with a transponder is ensuring proper installation and tracking the transponder in the vehicle.
As a dealership that offers loaner cars to customers, it's beneficial to offer them the discounted transponder rate. Most customers that use toll roads have their own transponders and are willing to pay for tolls as long as it is at the reduced transponder rate. Our experience shows that charging for tolls does not affect customer satisfaction unless customers are forced to pay higher toll rates.
“Customers who already use toll roads have their own transponders and don't mind paying for tolls through the dealership as long as it is at the reduced transponder rate.”
After registering your vehicles, you can begin the daily or weekly task of calculating charges.
Toll agencies provide the option to download toll transactions from their online portal, which can be matched to a loaner contract. The amount of information provided by toll agencies varies, with some listing license plates and transponders, while others only list license plates or transponders. To ensure accurate tracking and avoid corrections, it's crucial to maintain accurate records of the relationship between license plates, transponder numbers, loaner numbers, and VIN numbers.
After tallying all tolls, it's time to charge the customer. To collect payment, it's best to obtain the customer's credit card at checkout and inform them that their payment method on file will be used to charge for tolls later on. Make sure to use a PCI DSS compliant solution to securely save credit card details.
Once payment is collected, it's beneficial to provide the customer with a detailed breakdown of the toll charges, in case they have any questions or concerns.
Timing of charges can vary due to various factors, so it's best to charge for tolls a few days after the vehicle has been returned. To ensure accurate charging, make sure to have accurate records linking your internal loaner or VIN number, license plate, and transponder number. This way, you can correctly identify the vehicle and customer to charge.
When a customer has a loaner for an extended period, it's important to collect charges periodically to avoid overwhelming them with a large bill at once. Consider the cost of credit card processing fees when determining how often to charge.
Throughout the toll collection process, it's important to be aware of the sensitive customer data involved. To minimize risk, aim to store the least amount of information possible and encrypt it to prevent data theft or privacy issues. Additionally, be sure to use a PCI compliant solution to store payment information to ensure compliance with financial regulations.
With the widespread use of telematics devices in vehicles, it's now possible to collect toll charges at the time of vehicle return or even add them to the repair order. By utilizing periodic GPS location updates from the vehicle, toll charges can be calculated based on mapping data. When using this method, it's crucial to reconcile with data from the toll authority to ensure accuracy.
It's also important to exercise caution when charging for express lane usage. These lanes are often found on highways that have both tolled and free options. There may be inaccuracies in GPS which can make it difficult to accurately determine toll road usage.
In summary, managing toll charges and the associated administrative tasks can be a complex process with many opportunities for human error. To mitigate these challenges, it's important to take the following steps.
Register your vehicles with toll agencies to reduce paperwork and processing fees.
Maintain accurate records of vehicle association with license plates and transponder numbers.
Securely collect customer information and ensure compliance with PCI regulations.
Provide customers with the lowest toll rate to maintain positive customer satisfaction.
If you would like help with the setup process or have any questions, please contact us for a free consultation.