Most recent car buyers deem F&I process transparent

Despite the stigma that sometimes surrounds the dealership F&I office, most consumers surveyed find the F&I process to be transparent.

More than two-thirds of consumers who recently bought or leased a vehicle said the F&I manager shared the numbers step by step throughout the process in a transparent way, according to a DealerRater-Automotive News survey of 12,755 sales and lease customers fielded July 9-15. Survey results from about 4,000 respondents who visited the dealership for service were excluded from the findings.

About 20 percent of the sales and lease customers said the F&I manager presented the numbers at the end of the process in a way that seemed clear and concise, and only 2.7 percent said the process lacked transparency or was confusing or overwhelming.

The transparency level varied little among new- and used-vehicle buyers.

Among new-vehicle buyers, more than 70 percent said the F&I manager took them step by step through the process in a transparent way. For used-vehicle buyers, 64.8 percent agreed.

The positive experience in F&I isn't entirely new, although it seems that F&I managers and dealerships still carry a calculating reputation in general. But based on their most recent experiences, consumers feel otherwise.

In late 2016, Automotive News and DealerRater asked about customers' perceptions of F&I managers. Most respondents called F&I managers "warm and welcoming," "polished and professional" or "knowledgeable and helpful."

Only 3 percent called them "cold and impersonal" and "pushy and aggressive."

The industry has made great strides in improving the retail experience, and it shows. Based on the survey, dispelling the negative notions about F&I managers will likely follow soon.

Just like many of the old-school F&I sales tactics have become dated, so has the stigma of the shifty F&I manager.

You can reach Hannah Lutz at -- Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hm_lutz

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