F&I Tips


Asking about needs empowers customers

12:26 pm U.S. ET | Oct. 7, 2015

The right questions not only determine what customers need but empower them, says Rick McCormick, national account development manager for Reahard & Associates. “Empowering customers replaces attempting to sell customers,” he says. Consumers expect to be manipulated into buying unnecessary products. But “when they encounter someone that is helping them” to solve a problem, McCormick says, “the customer feels that person is working for them.”... Read More »


Missing details stall F&I

12:02 pm U.S. ET | Sept. 30, 2015

To cut F&I times, sales staffers should complete the entire deal jacket before they direct a customer to the F&I office, says Tony Dupaquier, director of The Academy at Service Group. Business managers spend “a tremendous amount of time” tracking down missing information. When jackets are complete, he says, it can cut a customer’s time in the F&I office by 15 minutes.... Read More »


Let customers count down warranty

12:35 pm U.S. ET | Sept. 23, 2015

“Never tell somebody when they'll be out of warranty. Make them tell you,” Ron Reahard, president of Reahard & Associates, said at the Industry Summit this month. Ask customers to calculate how far they typically drive in a year and the time it will take to reach the mileage limit on their warranty. When customers do the math, they trust the calculation, he says.... Read More »


Connect first, sell second

11:30 am U.S. ET | Sept. 16, 2015

Customers absorb only about 20 percent of what they're told in the F&I office. So when it's time to talk about add-on products, F&I managers should “focus initially on questions that show a genuine interest in the customer,” says Rick McCormick of Reahard & Associates. Once a manager determines what products would serve a customer best, the next steps are to “sell with emotion and close with logic.”... Read More »


Don't ignore job inquiries

12:01 am U.S. ET | Sept. 9, 2015

Responding to job inquiries now could help F&I managers down the road, says Suzanne Malo of DHG Search, which recruits finance executives for auto dealerships.... Read More »


Use the product menu to show levels of coverage

11:32 am U.S. ET | Sept. 2, 2015

“The menu should become a solution to a problem,” said Elgie Bright, automotive marketing and management program chair at Northwood University. “Have the customer select the coverage that offers the best combination of price, length of coverage and protection to meet their needs.”... Read More »


Know your state's ad laws

10:56 am U.S. ET | Aug. 26, 2015

With the crackdown on dealerships' advertisements, “dealers have to be aware of both federal and state laws,” says Randy Henrick, associate general counsel for Dealertrack. The Federal Trade Commission isn't the only regulator assessing ads. State attorneys general may also get involved. “Some states are tough on what they require. Others are less so,” Henrick said.... Read More »


Real-world cases help sell service plans

12:01 am U.S. ET | Aug. 19, 2015

To sell service contracts, use newspaper articles or dealership job cards to show customers the cost of repairs made to vehicles that were covered vs. vehicles that weren’t, advises Elgie Bright, automotive marketing and management program chair at Northwood University.... Read More »


Consider presentation when selling products

11:36 am U.S. ET | Aug. 12, 2015

Key to F&I sales is how products are presented to customers, says Justina Davis, director of the performance development center with JM&A group. Menu selling, considered a soft sales approach, works for many dealerships, she says, because it enables customers to see all their options and what their monthly payments would be with or without certain F&I products.... Read More »


Respond to complaints verbally and formally

10:36 am U.S. ET | Aug. 5, 2015

If you receive a customer complaint, cover your bases. Call customers to address complaints verbally, but also send a written response, said Terry Dortch, president of Automotive Compliance Consultants. Your response should be dictated by the severity of the complaint, but always handle customer complaints with “speed and urgency” even if you believe the complaint has no merit, he said.... Read More »


Start where the customer left off

10:06 am U.S. ET | July 29, 2015

Although most customers research products before entering the F&I office, “traditional dealerships still want to take them through all the steps. It creates a lot of tension,” says Justina Davis, director of performance development at JM&A. Instead, she suggests, find out where the customers left off and start the process there. Make what they’re getting at the dealership match their online experience. “Be open and transparent. Show them what’s on the iPad.”... Read More »


Be a proactive recruiter

11:08 am U.S. ET | July 22, 2015

Don’t wait for someone to leave to start recruiting F&I job candidates. To avoid hasty, perhaps bad, decisions, know in advance where to look, advises Suzanne Malo, senior manager for DHG Search, an accounting, finance and IT executive recruiting firm that services auto dealerships and other industries. “Be aware of the people working at your competitors. This kind of familiarity and connection is always beneficial when a seat opens in your dealership.”... Read More »


Less paper means stronger security

10:03 am U.S. ET | July 15, 2015

Embrace e-contracting to increase security, says Jim Dunn, general manager at JM Lexus in Margate, Fla. “With the sensitivity for private information, the less paper you have, the more secure you become,” he said. If a customer requests hard copies, the F&I manager still has the ability to print documents, which could bolster customer satisfaction, he added.... Read More »


Delegate compliance duties to a select few

12:01 am U.S. ET | July 8, 2015

To ensure your dealership remains legally compliant, appoint a select group of compliance staffers, advises Karen Rowe, finance director at Elk Grove Toyota in Elk Grove, Calif. Having seven trained compliance staffers handle that part of the transaction, rather than all 40 employees taking on compliance, is the best way to go, she says.... Read More »


Start relationships right away

11:39 am U.S. ET | July 1, 2015

“Form a rapport in the first 30 seconds” the customer is in the F&I office, advises Rasheed Creary, business manager at Sutliff Volkswagen in Harrisburg, Pa. “If you don’t do that, you’re going to be shut out.” He added: “Customers think F&I managers are just robotic.” Joking around with them makes the process more enjoyable and increases customer retention.... Read More »


Explain service contracts in plain language

12:01 am U.S. ET | June 24, 2015

When marketing service contracts, ask yourself: "How would I explain this to an eighth grader?" advises Nick Smyth, financial services regulatory attorney at Reed Smith law firm. Dealers should disclose what is covered and what is not covered in summary form "using plain English," not technical jargon that goes over the average person's head, he says. "Do it in a way that an eighth grader would understand."... Read More »


Move the F&I office to the sales area

10:51 am U.S. ET | June 17, 2015

Finance managers should get involved in car deals earlier, says Cary Castro, customer financial services director at AutoNation Chevrolet Coral Gables. Her office is at the sales desks so she can work closely with the sales managers from the moment a sales rep arrives with the first pencil price. That way, she says, “I know every single deal, and I can work deals from the beginning so we can maximize our profit per deal.”... Read More »


Help customers drive the conversation on insurance

9:57 am U.S. ET | June 10, 2015

Find a way to encourage customers to ask about ancillary vehicle protection plans, advises Raj Sundaram, co-president of Dealertrack. Dealers should include protection options on their websites so that customers are familiar before they visit the store. “It’s a different conversation when the consumer is initiating it,” he says.... Read More »


Knowing lenders’ niches eases deals

9:40 am U.S. ET | June 3, 2015

If you don’t know your lenders’ niches, ask. Some will say they’re “everything to everybody,” says Mary Byrne, general manager of Bruce Titus Automotive Group in Olympia, Wash., “but they really aren’t.” Some only want credit scores over 600, others predominantly want subprime customers. Pressing the lender to identify its niche will help both the dealership and the lender, she says.... Read More »


Finesse the timing of document printouts

11:32 am U.S. ET | May 27, 2015

Bill Paschen, finance director for Tuttle-Click Automotive Group, recommends preprinting only the temporary plate and the customer menu before inviting the customer into the F&I office. “If you have [all documents] preprinted, you don't get the rapport-building opportunity,” he advises, say, chatting about birthdays. “You can control the deal-flow by how fast you print,” e.g., faster for those in a hurry. And if you made a mistake, “you save trees.”... Read More »


Know GAP product details: Yours vs. theirs

10:45 am U.S. ET | May 20, 2015

In the competition between dealership and insurance company GAP deals, product education is key, says Damien Bullard, president at consulting firm IDDS Group. F&I managers should know the value of their product and how it compares to insurance companies’ offerings. “Product information is so important for finance managers to know if their GAP product is superior,” he says. He also suggests setting up insurance companies in-house to “control the flow.”... Read More »


Employee pricing on F&I can prove invaluable

10:27 am U.S. ET | May 13, 2015

Dealerships should offer employees special pricing on F&I products, says Richard Wentz, F&I manager at Shields Automart (Buick-Cadillac-Chevrolet-GMC) in Paxton, Ill. “From the receptionist to the technicians, having each of them ready to pipe up that they’ve used the VSC [vehicle service contract] or tire-and-wheel is so beneficial to the entire organization,” he says.... Read More »


Eliminate the negative

11:33 am U.S. ET | May 6, 2015

Good relationships with the sales staff are a must for F&I managers, says George Angus, head trainer for Team One Group. Step 1 is to quit complaining about them, he said. “There is an old saying: ‘Stop complaining. Eighty percent of the people don’t care and 20 percent are glad you have the problem.’” If sales staffers are doing something wrong, “many times it’s because they simply don’t know any better.”... Read More »


Simple prop can seal the deal

11:39 am U.S. ET | April 29, 2015

To sell a service contract, try the "stapler close," suggests F&I trainer Tony Dupaquier. Use a stapler and a cellphone as props. The stapler represents a vehicle's engine and transmission. The cellphone represents the vehicle's buttons, scanners, sensors and computers. The stapler likely will operate just as well in a few years. The cellphone? Maybe not, he says. “That's why we need the service contract. It protects against all the computerized pieces we can't repair.”... Read More »


Pitch GAP as loan protection

10:46 am U.S. ET | April 22, 2015

Chris Shields, business manager for Mountain Valley Motors (Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram) in Blue Ridge, Ga., has a simple way to explain GAP. “I remind customers that their insurance company insures the vehicle; GAP insures the loan. And then I explain the other benefits of GAP.” GAP, or guaranteed asset protection, pays the shortfall if the insurance payout on a stolen or totaled vehicle isn't enough to cover the owner's loan or lease balance.... Read More »

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Hillside Honda rewards: Paid vacations, Rolex watches, family atmosphere

Hillside Honda rewards: Paid vacations, Rolex watches, family atmosphere

Thirty is a special number at Hillside Honda in New York City. Sales staffers who sell 30 rides a month get a $1,000 paid vacation and three extra days off.
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