How to win over reluctant F&I customers

Don't give up on F&I naysayers

Don't give up on customers who have taken a pass on all F&I products, says Steve Justice, director of sales and F&I operations at Lithia Motors Inc.

Justice says one of the retail group's best practices is for the F&I manager to turn uninterested customers over to the sales manager or finance director for one more pitch for an extended service contract or other F&I product.

Lithia has fixed prices for F&I products, so price isn't negotiable per se, Justice says. But sometimes a different deductible or term will accomplish the same thing. As the manager makes a final review of the documents, he or she might say, "I see you didn't take advantage of any of our protection items, are you aware we have it at this term and this deductible?"

G-A-P spells opportunity

When a customer calls with questions about a GAP claim, that's opportunity knocking, says Mike Casisa, finance director for Southern Chrysler-Jeep – Greenbrier, in Chesapeake, Va.

When a car is stolen or totaled, guaranteed asset protection, or GAP, pays the customer the difference between what insurance pays, based on what the car is actually worth, and what the customer still owes on the loan.

"Some people think it's a pain when somebody calls the finance office and says, 'I lost my copy of my GAP policy. Can you send it to me?' Not me, I roll out the red carpet for them. Why are they asking? Because their car's been totaled and now they need a new car," Casisa says.

"My intention is to sell them a new car" and the F&I products that go with it, he says. For good customers, he says, he sometimes offers a free loaner car for a few days. "It really doesn't cost us anything for somebody to put 200 miles on a used car," he says.

"Even if they eventually buy from another dealer, the first time the other dealer isn't nice to them they come back to us for service," Casisa says. "I always ask them if they bought a service contract at the other dealership, and if they didn't, sometimes I can sell a service contract on a car they bought at another dealership."

Have a good F&I tip to share? Email Hannah Lutz at hlutz@crain.com

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