Numbers suggest mediocre F&I performance

On average, the industry is doing a mediocre job of selling F&I products.

That's my conclusion, based on Power Information Network numbers on penetration rates for F&I products, plus some insight from Tony Dupaquier, trainer extraordinaire at American Financial & Automotive Services.

First, the numbers. PIN data show that an F&I product was sold to 40 percent of all new-vehicle buyers in the second quarter. That's just buyers; no leases included. And that figure has risen steadily from 32 percent in the first quarter of 2010.

Forty percent penetration sounds pretty good. But Dupaquier believes that 10 percent of all buyers are "lay-downs," folks who almost automatically buy any F&I product put in front of them. Another 20 percent also buy, but "they like to see the show."

In other words, F&I penetration should be at 30 percent without breaking a sweat.

If that's true, then a 40 percent penetration rate is nothing to crow about. I don't know if the problem is pricing, presentation or something else, but if F&I products truly provide value to consumers, then that penetration rate should be higher.

You can reach James B. Treece at jtreece@crain.com

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