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F&I product reviews: Rare but a potential sales tool

When visiting a new city, would you choose to have dinner at a restaurant with a five-star review or no reviews at all?

Probably the five-star restaurant. Even restaurants with three stars might not make the cut.

Why should F&I products be any different? An F&I product sales boost may lie in the keystrokes of existing customers.

Dealerships looking to increase F&I product sales should encourage customers to write reviews about their F&I experience and the products they buy.

John Tabar, director of training for United Development Systems, recommends that F&I managers follow up three days after a customer purchases a vehicle and F&I products to ensure the customer understood the terms and paperwork.

When that customer comes in for service and has a claim paid, the F&I manager should call them the next day and ask how the experience was.

Then, they can ask the customer to leave a review of the service contract, for example, and possibly mention the F&I manager.

"You never see that," said Tabar. But why shouldn't that be the norm? Consumers check reviews before nearly every purchase these days. Most of the time, F&I product information isn't on the Internet at all.

Customers shop for vehicles online, compare interest rates and apply for financing, but most don't review F&I products. Even if the customer Googles a service contract, Tabar said, a dealership's F&I product menu is unlikely to appear.

Reviews for F&I products could be a game changer. A review that explains that a $1,000 claim was paid because of a service contract and notes that the service contract did everything the F&I manager said it would is a hefty endorsement. If customers have already heard about how an F&I product helped someone else, they may be more likely to consider it for themselves.

Consumers trust and rely on reviews -- probably now more than ever -- and asking a customer for one couldn't hurt.

You can reach Hannah Lutz at hlutz@crain.com -- Follow Hannah on Twitter: @hm_lutz

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