3 Min Read • September 27, 2023
Top Three Dealership F&I Opportunities to Start Today
In a world where consumers expect every purchase to be fast and easy, speeding up the car buying process is key to remaining competitive and earning customer loyalty. It’s a big plus that more dealers are moving steps of the purchase process online to cut down on time spent in-store. However, the F&I (Finance and Insurance) office remains a sticking point.
Waiting for an F&I manager, sitting through a product presentation, and then plowing through piles of paperwork sink the customer experience, according to the CDK Global 2023 Friction Points Study. A negative experience at the end of the purchase process can affect product penetration and CSI scores, even if the rest of the experience was positive.
The good news is that opportunities exist to speed up and add value to F&I to make a significant difference in the customer experience. Engaging customers with products via digital retail tools and mobile devices, personalizing presentations and value selling are valuable strategies to slash time without sacrificing quality or profits.
Product Education Should Start Early
Dealers and F&I departments can better serve customers by including product information (including pricing) earlier in the purchase process within modern retail tools. This allows shoppers to research different products online before they visit the dealership, saving time in-store and prepping the customer for a conversation.
Consider integrating F&I into your digital retailing. As customers build their deal online, serve up popular products for that specific vehicle at the same time. So when you’re finalizing the purchase price, they’ll be prepared to discuss additional products.
Salespeople Are F&I Allies
Another time-saving strategy that also builds value is to have salespeople discuss F&I products during the sales process. This can be done when answering customer questions online and face to face in-store. It’s a missed opportunity to assign all F&I responsibilities solely to the F&I team. After all, it’s not just about profit per vehicle sold. It’s also about connecting buyers back to the dealership for long-term gains.
Equip sales staff with mobile technology that includes your digital retail tool to make it easy to incorporate shopper preferences, review F&I material, and educate the customer side by side to provide a more customer-friendly approach overall. As a bonus, research by NADA revealed that dealers who use a digital retail tool all the way through the showroom are more profitable. Unit sales per salesperson jump from 10.8 to 16.
Personalized Value Selling Wins With Customers
If you develop a sales and F&I process focused on personalizing products to customers and convey the value of those products, as opposed to just trying to make a sale, it’ll always yield more successful results. Use a combination of a sales/finance questionnaire to understand what’s important to the customer and emphasize product whys over the whats to make a huge difference in the customer experience and product sales.
The higher price of both new and used cars today indicates customers may be more willing to protect themselves from a total loss and/or expensive repairs — if products are presented properly.
Effective presentations talk in terms of problems that exist. A customer with a big loan needs to understand that a total loss doesn’t necessarily mean insurance will cover the loan amount; they need GAP for that. Running out of the manufacturer service warranty puts the customer on the hook for expensive repairs unless they purchase a vehicle service contract. When problems are made concrete, it’s easier to sell products as the answers to the problems.
The F&I process is a sticking point for many customers but it doesn’t have to be. Opportunities to shorten the process while adding value are there if dealerships grab them.