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Issue link: http://fi-magazine.epubxp.com/i/238484
Finance & Insurance Be a Problem-Solver Every minute the customer spends in your offce must add genuine value to his or her purchase experience, regardless of the F&I sales process your department follows. The process has to be just as valuable to 20 F&I and Showroom NADA 2014 customers as it is to the dealership. Otherwise, we're wasting their time. And customers hate people who waste their time. Today's customer demands a benefcial F&I experience that expedites the delivery process, not prolongs it. What they need is an F&I producer who knows what he or she is talking about. What customers also deserve is an effcient F&I process that is both professional and transparent. That means no canned sales pitches, misinformation or if-I-could, would-ya deals. It also requires that you be involved early in the sale — from the credit application on. And once the customer completes a credit application, your salespeople should be trained to say, "Let me get our business manager to pull your credit bureau report." An F&I manager must review and discuss the credit application and credit bureau report with the customer prior to submission to a lender. This allows you to understand the customer's fnancial situation, discover their needs and confrm the details of the transaction. Every customer has a story. It's our job to hear it so we can paint a clear picture of their fnancial situation for the fnance source, and determine why this customer needs the products we offer. As the F&I manager, it's critical that you are perceived by customers as someone helping them get the car they want at a payment they can afford, not just someone trying to sell them additional products. Customers need to see that the F&I manager is actually involved in arranging their fnancing. Otherwise, you're not perceived as helping them; you're just trying to sell them some stuff. When possible, let the customer see you submit his or her deal. Explain why you have multiple lenders and tell them that different lenders have tier levels. Reveal to them that some fnance sources are more concerned with the debt-to-income ratio, while others are focused on the payment-toincome ratio. Tell them some fnance sources are more concerned about ac- ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/D-OZEN with his well-rehearsed word-tracks, the customer said, "I think I'm going to pass." Not willing to take "No" for an answer, the F&I manager responded: "Why? When was the last time you bought 50 separate computers at once?" Why not just be direct, I thought, and say: "Are you stupid, or just ignorant?" Well, he didn't. Instead, he proceeded to tell the customer that an airbag module costs $1,200, takes fve hours of labor to get and another fve hours to replace the old module. Here's a tip: if you're too lazy to fnd out what a part really costs, and the actual labor required to replace the old part, save yourself some time. Don't limit yourself to merely exaggerating the cost of repairs. Go big and tell them, like Obamacare, they'll have to pay a penalty if they don't buy the protection. In fact, if you're going to lie and make up stuff to sell a service contract, why waste your talents in F&I? Go right into politics. At yet another dealership, I watched an F&I manager spend all of three minutes having the customer sign a couple of miscellaneous forms before reviewing his menu and pitching products. The customer showed zero interest in what he was selling, mainly because the producer never asked a single needs-discovery question. All he cared about was getting that menu in front of the customer as quickly as possible so he could start making his pitch. When the customer didn't bite on the $2,500 service contract, the producer's fnely tuned selling skills were on full display. "I don't know if he'll do it, but if I can get my sales manager to let me sell it to you at our cost of $1,600, would you take it?" he asked. tual cash down, while others focus on percent of advance. Lastly, explain to the customer how they might improve their credit score. Customers need to recognize that you are a fnance professional who is there to help them, and who will be their personal advocate with the lender. Today, the F&I process has to be perceived by customers as expediting, not prolonging, the delivery of their vehicle. Most importantly, the process needs to add real value to the customer's purchase experience. Remember, every customer asks this question: "Is this person trying to help me, or trying to sell me?" How your customers answer that question will determine whether or not you're going to sell them your products. If they think you are trying to help them, they will be very interested in what you have to say. If they think you are trying to sell them, they couldn't care less what you have to say. With today's extremely competitive retail environment and increasing regulatory oversight, what you do in the F&I offce is vitally important to both your dealership and to the customer. Like my father told me, do it well, and do it right. Ronald J. Reahard is president of Reahard & Associates Inc., an F&I training company providing F&I classes, workshops, in-dealership and online training. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.