Faster is better in F&I, Power survey shows

Sales satisfaction suffers for customers who are kept waiting, much as they do for customers who spend more and more time discussing and signing the final paperwork.

The latest J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index Study underscores how important it is to get customers in and out of the F&I office as quickly as possible.

“The satisfaction degrades with every additional increment of time longer than 15 minutes or less,” said Chris Sutton, vice president of automotive retail practice at J.D. Power and Associates’ global automotive division. “Anything over half an hour, it’s going to be significantly less.”

Automotive News asked Sutton to take a closer look at the data relating sales satisfaction and time spent in F&I. To get the best scores, he said, F&I managers have just 30 minutes -- tops.

That’s a tall order. In that time, F&I managers must get financing approved, pitch F&I products and comply with required disclosures and signatures.

Far above average

Customers who said they spent a speedy 15 minutes or less “discussing and signing the final paperwork” had an average SSI score of 854 on a 1,000-point scale, Sutton said. Those customers accounted for 20 percent of the total, according to the survey.

Those scores were much higher than average. For luxury brands, the average SSI score was 732. For mass-market brands, it was 678.

Customers who said they spent 16 to 30 minutes on final paperwork had an average score of 825, still well above average. They accounted for 38 percent of the sample, the single biggest category.

Another 34 percent of respondents said final paperwork took them 31 to 60 minutes. Their average score was 786.

A small percentage said they spent more than an hour. Seven percent reported spending 61 to 120 minutes, with an average score of 751. The final 1 percent reported 121 minutes or more; their average score was 741.

‘Waiting for F&I’

Those responses don’t take into account the time spent waiting to see an F&I manager in the first place. According to the survey, customers averaged about 48 minutes “waiting for F&I.”

SSI scores suffer for customers who are kept waiting, much as they do for customers who spend more and more time “discussing and signing the final paperwork.” Satisfaction fell as waiting time increased, and fell more steeply beyond 30 minutes.

The 2014 U.S. Sales Satisfaction Index Study is based on responses from 29,805 buyers who purchased or leased a new vehicle in April or May. The survey was fielded from July to September. Overall results were released last month.

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@autonews.com

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