Ray Borg, business manager at Suburban Toyota of Troy, outside Detroit, says the best way to sell F&I products is to act like a consultant, not a salesman.
"You don't want to sound real pitchy," he says.
Like many other F&I managers, Borg uses props and prompts to make F&I products look more valuable and affordable to customers. But he employs other tactics as well.
For instance, when a customer buys a vehicle that is more fuel-efficient than his previous one, he shows the customer on a computer screen how much the customer can expect to save on gasoline every month. That often frees up room in the customer's budget for F&I products, he says.
Borg, 53, spoke last week with Automotive News Special Correspondent Jim Henry.
Tell me about the gas-mileage approach.
When the car the customer is trading or getting rid of gets a little bit less gas economy, a lot of people forget that when they're making a budget decision: This is what I can afford. I've found pretty good success with that [approach]. People say, "I didn't even think of that. I'm saving $100 a month." Twenty bucks extra for GAP or an additional amount for a service contract or whatever now looks more affordable.
You're not into the hard-sell.
We think that when people see the products are of value, it makes them a little bit more comfortable. The best approach is more like consulting. I'm not into selling.
Ultimately, it comes down to price and budget. I respect that. My job is to offer the customer different ways to see the value of something. "Do I need it?" And if you need it, then there is a way to work it. There is a way to work it. Who knows? Maybe an extra six months in the term will make it more affordable.
Do you use props?
I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this. But today's cars are so high-tech. The cars run on computer. They're very sophisticated, even compared to what we had 10 years ago. We've all heard before that today's cars have more computing power than the Apollo astronauts took to the moon.
So yes, I keep an actual engine-control computer on my desk. That isn't a part that you can get repaired. It's do or die. It works or it doesn't work. You can't tell by looking at it whether it works. But if it doesn't work, it can be hundreds or even thousands of dollars to replace it.
I think testimonials help as well. Short things. You don't want to put people to sleep. You don't want to sound real pitchy. I don't believe in that.
What do you mean by testimonials? Customer testimonials?
No, I mean like clips from newspapers, like newspaper articles about the crumbling infrastructure, about the crumbling of American roads. They're not going back and repaving them. And if you've got a low-profile tire, you've only got like three inches between the road and a fancy-looking alloy wheel. That can be a few hundred bucks at least to replace one of those.
Another one I noticed was a "Help Wanted" ad from one of those Jiffy Lube places: "No experience necessary, 18 years old and up."
We get a lot of hybrid customers. That's not a car you want to drop off at Jiffy Lube. I ask people: "Is this who you want working on your car that has more computer power than a spaceship?"
How would you describe your market?
We're in the suburbs of Detroit.
I guess it's very diverse. You've said you're learning to say "thank you" in many languages.
It is very diverse. I think some of it is the brand. The Toyota brand seems to attract a big ethnic audience from all over the world -- China, Korea, India, Europe. The "465 ways to say 'thank you,'" it's a small thing, but it's become a habit.
It's also my own personal interest. I love cultures. I love that the world keeps expanding.