3 Min Read • December 21, 2023
Pull Back the Curtain on Your Dealership’s F&I to Modernize the Car Sales Process
Today’s car buyers value a fast, easy and convenient experience. Transactions have become faster over time due to tools like digital retailing and mobile applications. However, the F&I office continues to eat up time. A CDK study found that 65% of consumers spend up to 45 minutes waiting to see the F&I Manager.
Dealers need to innovate the F&I process to truly modernize the buying process and deliver on customer expectations. The promising news is that remote selling and showroom tools provide an intuitive F&I experience for customers while remaining within guardrails set by managers.
Going this route does require the F&I office to trust sales staff to take the wheel when required. If this sounds daunting, consider the long-term costs to the dealership if waiting for F&I results in a poor consumer experience. Here’s how to get started.
Train Sales Staff on F&I Product Menus
Even customers who prefer to do most of the purchase steps online appreciate an expert consultation. Sales staff need to be familiar with F&I menus and trained to speak about the benefits of the products to the customer. This can put the customer more at ease when they finally do enter the F&I office.
Build a Strategy and Share It
Assess your F&I profile and build a strategy around selling the products that are most valuable to your dealership. Share the strategy and compensation structure with sales staff. For example, prioritize pre-paid maintenance and other downstream revenue-generating products instead of focusing first on guaranteed asset protection (GAP), which has no benefit to the dealership beyond that initial sale. One caveat: Don’t jeopardize personalization. Make sure presentations are still tailored to the customer’s needs by referencing buying history and comparable shopper data.
Include F&I on the Sales Platform
Allow customers to view your entire menu of vehicle accessories, protection plans and other F&I add-ons as part of the sales process. This enables a continuous, intuitive experience with the benefit of showing the customer exactly how the selected products will change their total monthly payments.
Loosen the Reins
The ingrained habit of bringing customers to the box will be hard to break. But loosening the reins and allowing customers and sales staff to handle remote interviews and presentations can net many benefits. Start the interview before the customer comes in — give them the option to see products on a tablet away from the dealership — to eliminate time spent in the F&I office.
At the dealership, the salesperson also doesn’t have to leave the customer’s side to get approvals because managers can track activity from a dashboard so they can run deals faster. This makes for happier customers and more productive sales staff.
If you want to modernize the F&I process, include F&I on one sales platform with prescribed and mandatory steps. This modern retailing approach will speed up transactions and improve the customer experience. And with a selling strategy that prioritizes downstream-revenue-generating products, you’ll speed up the purchase process, which ultimately delivers happier customers.
Jason is the F&I Product Marketing Manager for CDK Global’s Modern Retail portfolio, orchestrating the launch of multiple solutions to help dealers meet the needs of customers in this ever changing market. This includes the signing experience as well as the processes to move the F&I office into a fully digital workflow. He is responsible for the coordination between CDK customers and our product teams to improve the F&I experience for both dealers and car shoppers.