DONNA HARRIS

It all boils down to cooperation

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News

Among the F&I managers I know, there has been a dispute about whether or not dealerships can effectively sell service contracts and other products from the service drive.

Auto retailers have tried to sell service plans from the shop before. But many pursued it in earnest during the downturn. Traffic was down in the showroom, so dealers eyed the shop as a way to boost F&I income.

Now, as light-vehicle sales are on the rebound, interest in this approach has waned.

I'm hearing excuses such as "Service writers aren't motivated or are too busy to sell F&I products" or "Service writers lack training to sell F&I products and should leave this to F&I managers."

There's also the tug of war over whether the revenue should go to the F&I department or the service department.

All those issues are valid and need to be addressed before expanding F&I sales to the shop.

But the challenges could be overcome if dealerships could get over one, big chronic problem: They need to get different departments to cooperate.

The service, parts, F&I, new-vehicle sales and used-vehicle sales departments need to work toward their common goal of achieving higher overall revenue and profit for the dealership.

Then figuring out how to spiff a service writer might be more like a speed bump than a roadblock.

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