F&I Tips


Would you sell your F&I products to an expert?

12:01 am U.S. ET | Oct. 15, 2014
If you don’t believe in your F&I products enough to pitch them to an industry expert, stop selling them, advises Matt Nowicki, vice president of retail software at IAS. When he buys a car, he says, F&I managers see where he works and assume he won’t buy an F&I product, so they don’t offer him any. That's wrong, he says. "If you're selling a product you don’t believe in, please stop."... Read More »



Unethical behavior can kill job opportunities

10:41 am U.S. ET | Oct. 8, 2014
Don’t cut ethical corners and expect to live it down, warns F&I trainer Tony Dupaquier. If a lender decides an F&I manager can’t be trusted, their career could be toast even if they change jobs, he said during an Automotive News webinar. “You go to another dealership ... one of the first places they call is the finance company.”... Read More »



How high-tech vehicles can sell service contracts

9:57 am U.S. ET | Oct. 1, 2014
F&I managers should exploit customers’ concern about complicated technology to help sell extended service contracts, said F&I trainer Rick McCormick at last month’s Industry Summit in Las Vegas. He pointed to this year’s J.D. Power Initial Quality Study, which showed an increase in “things gone wrong.... Read More »



Do your F&I products fit your market?

10:05 am U.S. ET | Sept. 24, 2014
Make sure your F&I products are right for your market, customers, vehicles and deals, Steve Veldkamp, a trainer with Great Lakes Cos., a Kalamazoo, Mich., dealer-services concern, told the Industry Summit conference in Las Vegas this month. They found a dealership in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that was selling theft deterrent products. But how many cars were stolen in the U.P. in the prior year? Five. Actually, two, says Veldkamp.... Read More »



Learn what the legal terms mean on F&I contracts

10:24 am U.S. ET | Sept. 17, 2014
F&I managers must be intimately familiar with the fine print in the service contracts and other F&I products they sell. If they’re not, and they have to testify in court, it could be a disaster, Dave Robertson, executive director of the Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals, advised dealers at last week’s Industry Summit in Las Vegas “Get your people to read the very documents -- the binding legal documents -- they’re asking your customers to sign.”... Read More »



Salespeople need guidance on credit rules, too

11:10 am U.S. ET | Sept. 10, 2014
F&I managers must train sales staffers on federal rules governing consumer credit, trainer Ron Reahard says. Some don’ts are obvious: Don’t inflate a customer’s income to help the customer get a loan. Others are less so. For instance, customers must be told they don’t have to provide information on child support or alimony if they’re not using that income to help them get credit.... Read More »



A longer list of lenders pays off

10:40 am U.S. ET | Sept. 3, 2014
The current trend in F&I offices is to use a short list of lenders, usually led by a captive finance company. But staying active with many lenders enables a dealership to find financing for just about anyone, argues Adam Marburger, finance director at AutoCenters Nissan in Wood River, Ill. “I’ve got a list of about 40 I do business with,” he said. “Of course, it’s like anything else: 10 of them probably get 90 percent of the business.”... Read More »



Hiring enough F&I staffers saves money long term

9:16 am U.S. ET | Aug. 27, 2014
A dealership should hire more help if F&I managers have to handle more than 75 booked deals a month each, says John Malishenko, COO of Germain Motor Co. in Columbus, Ohio. Hiring costs money, but the dealership loses in the long run if F&I managers are short-handed, he said this month during the free Automotive News webinar, “Read More »



Understanding female customers’ F&I acumen is key

9:38 am U.S. ET | Aug. 20, 2014
Finance managers shouldn’t try to guess how much an unaccompanied woman knows or doesn’t know about buying and financing a car, says Anne Fleming, president of women-drivers.com. Instead, she says, “Touch base and reaffirm as you go through the various discussions from the term to financing to extended warranties. Make sure you understand what she understands.... Read More »



Verify customer data, keep copies

9:21 am U.S. ET | Aug. 13, 2014
To avoid trouble with lenders, dealerships should verify all information submitted by customers on a credit application, especially income, employment, time in residence, job description and housing expense, F&I trainer Gil Van Over says. Dealerships should also retain two copies of the credit application: a copy of the information the customer submitted, and a printout, signed by the customer, of the application the dealership sent out to lenders online.... Read More »



Give customers straight talk on benefits

10:24 am U.S. ET | Aug. 6, 2014
Don't overpromise benefits, advises RouteOne General Counsel Dan Doman. During a recent Webinar, Doman cited an example the National Automobile Dealers Association took from the Federal Trade Commission's investigation of biweekly payments. NADA said high fees had cut a customer's net savings to merely $43, even though he had saved $656 in interest. Said Doman: “If you tell the consumer they save $43 over the repayment period, and they make an informed decision, then OK.”... Read More »



Looking for shortcuts? Draw a map

12:01 am U.S. ET | July 30, 2014
To streamline car buying and financing, dealerships should draw a step-by-step map of their sales process, from meet-and-greet when the customer walks in until the deal is complete, says Mike Stoll, director of the professional services group for ADP Dealer Services. "I'm in hundreds and hundreds of dealerships," he said in an Automotive News Webinar this month. "Most dealerships do not have that process mapped out to where it can be improved."... Read More »



3 questions can help sell GAP

10:21 am U.S. ET | July 23, 2014
Three questions can persuade customers to buy GAP from the dealership instead of their insurance company, says Mike Hustead, senior finance manager at Freedom Kia in Clarksburg, W.Va. (1) “A texting teenager T-bones you. Whose insurance is responsible?” Customer: “His.” (2) “Right. His insurance says your car is worth $30,000. You owe $35,000. Whose insurance pays the $5,000 difference?” Customer: “Mine.” (3) “Correct.... Read More »



Silly F&I slang speaks volumes to customers

9:35 am U.S. ET | July 16, 2014
The F&I office has its own colorful slang, but don't use it in front of customers or even internally, warns F&I trainer Ron Reahard. He often hears credit insurance called “Choke and Croak,” exterior finish protection called “Mop and Glow” and anti-theft etching called “Etch-a-Sketch.” It's a bad habit, he says, and it shows the F&I manager doesn't really believe in his or her own products, and that's more obvious to customers than you might think.... Read More »



Signing up a new lender? Get busy

10:23 am U.S. ET | July 9, 2014
When dealers and lenders are about to sign a contract, minor details deserve major attention, says dealership consultant and former F&I manager Sarah Richard Denton. Before the big bosses sign, finance managers and lender reps should verify that the correct forms are completed and that the proper signatures are collected from middle managers and others, says Denton, owner of SRD Consulting in Lancaster, Pa.... Read More »



Cash customer? Pitch financing as menu item

10:07 am U.S. ET | July 2, 2014
F&I managers often try to convert cash buyers the moment they discover the customers plan to pay cash. Big mistake, says F&I trainer Ron Reahard. Instead, present financing options as part of the product menu. Once you try too hard and too fast to sell a cash buyer on financing, “the one product they don’t want and don’t think they need,” he says, “their defenses come up, and now we can’t sell them anything.”... Read More »



Why 90-minute deals may be a more practical goal

10:45 am U.S. ET | June 25, 2014
Speeding up car purchases to one hour or less might be overdoing it, says Kevin Filan, vice president of customer marketing for AutoTrader.com. Customer satisfaction doesn’t fall until after 90 minutes. Unfortunately, 72 percent of customers spend longer than 90 minutes. To speed things up, he says, dealerships should let customers complete paperwork online ahead of time and have one person handle sales and F&I. The next best thing to the one-person approach: seamless turnovers.... Read More »



Use test drives to pitch tire-and-wheel plans

9:00 am U.S. ET | June 18, 2014
Mike Cassinelli, a finance and sales training specialist at the IPS Agency in Georgetown, Ky., suggests that salespeople can make a subtle plug for tire-and-wheel coverage during the test drive. When the customer drives near a piece of debris or a pothole in the road, he urges: “Use the words ‘Now, be careful of that pothole. These alloy wheels are really beautiful, but they sure are expensive to replace.’”... Read More »


Have salespeople recommend F&I products

10:04 am U.S. ET | June 11, 2014
The Rusnak Group of Pasadena, Calif., has its salespeople recommend F&I products before customers reach the F&I office. Some F&I trainers say salespeople shouldn't mention F&I products for fear of creating sales resistance. But CEO Victoria Rusnak counters: “Because the salesperson has already built rapport with the client, their recommendation on products makes it easier for the F&I manager to present options during contracting.”... Read More »



Why atypical pricing on F&I products works best

9:28 am U.S. ET | June 4, 2014
F&I managers should choose atypical prices for service contracts and other F&I products, then stick to them, advises F&I trainer Ron Reahard. “Charge $1,822, not $1,795. A number like $1,795 conveys two messages: one, the price is negotiable, and two, you're trying to make it sound cheaper.” Once you've set a price for a certain level of coverage, don't deviate from it. “Remember, if you don't think it's a good deal, the customer certainly won't.”... Read More »



Reverse roles with lender reps. Ask them to lunch

9:51 am U.S. ET | May 28, 2014
Do lender reps typically show up when your dealership is at its busiest? Offer to take them to lunch on your day off, Ralph Larson, finance director for Dick Hannah Dealerships in Vancouver, Wash., advised during an Automotive News Webinar last week. “It goes a long way to build a sort-of friendship,” he said. “At some point, you’re going to have to ask for favors, exceptions, things like that.”... Read More »



Inspiration for an F&I close can strike anywhere

10:01 am U.S. ET | May 21, 2014
F&I managers must stay alert to real-world examples that could work to close a sale, F&I trainer Tony Dupaquier says. At a car wash recently, he realized a high-end wash with detailing could actually cost more per mile, depending on the number of miles between washes, than an extended service contract would. In his case, it did. The $44 car wash -- “I got upsold really good” -- worked out to 6.8 cents a mile factoring in the car had been driven 650 miles since its last wash.... Read More »



Don't tee up F&I products during the sale

11:50 am U.S. ET | May 14, 2014
Exposing customers to F&I products early in the deal makes them defensive, says George Angus, head trainer at Team One Group. He acknowledges many F&I trainers endorse the tactic of salespeople teeing up F&I. But in an e-mail bulletin to F&I managers, Angus asked: “Who is the most qualified person in your dealership to present service contracts, GAP, credit insurance and the other F&I products? The answer is you.”... Read More »



Never use 'best' to describe finance rate

10:47 am U.S. ET | May 7, 2014
Promising a customer the “best” rate is one of the “seven deadly sins of F&I,” says Dave Robertson, executive director of the Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals. “NEVER use the word 'best' when discussing the finance charge,” he wrote in a blog on the association's Web site, afip.com. “The word 'best' implies that the rate quoted is either the dealer's buy rate or the lowest rate known to man.”... Read More »



Make sure customer signatures are valid

9:58 am U.S. ET | April 30, 2014
To ward off potential bank fraud problems stemming from dealership employees signing for customers, maintain a “kickback log” for deals that get held up because of missing documents or signatures, advises F&I trainer Gil Van Over of gvo3 & Associates. If a missing signature appears in an unreasonably short period of time, vet it to make sure it's the customer's.... Read More »


Special Report
No. 1 store empowers, retains employees

No. 1 store empowers, retains employees

Texas dealer Greg May encourages his staffers to provide input and solve problems on their own. Mon., October 20
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