F&I Tips


Start with an interview

11:36 am U.S. ET | Feb. 3, 2016

Interview customers to inform product pitches, dealer consultant Mark Rikess suggests. Part of engagement inside the F&I office is an effective interview to create an engaged conversation. Dealers should present “products that are targeted at that consumer, rather than a static presentation.”... Read More »


Show the value of a service contract

9:52 am U.S. ET | Jan. 27, 2016

Have a sign in the F&I office that shows the total number of claims paid and the total dollar amount of claims paid over the past five years through vehicle service contracts, advises John Stephens, senior vice president of dealer services at EFG Cos. “It shows the customer just how much individuals who chose to protect themselves have saved in repair costs and helps build trust.”... Read More »


Cater to customer expectations

9:50 am U.S. ET | Jan. 20, 2016

Present financing options online, advises Monica Orluk, director of sales engineering at technology provider Fiserv Lending Solutions. Today’s customer expects to step into the dealership only to finalize the transaction and pick up the car, she said. “If you can make it convenient to the consumer, they’re going to finance through you. Don’t expect the consumer to come to you. Push out your programs the way the consumer expects to receive them.”... Read More »


An early trade walk can boost F&I

11:58 am U.S. ET | Jan. 13, 2016

The trade walk gives dealership staff an opportunity to gather information from customers at the place where they’re most comfortable: their vehicle. So do it early in the deal, advises EasyCare CEO Larry Dorfman “The earlier we can engage the customer with regard to the value of F&I benefits, the better the F&I office is going to be.”... Read More »


Listen and learn

11:42 am U.S. ET | Jan. 6, 2016

Just lose an F&I sale? Maybe you talked too much, says Steve Klees, senior vice president of specialty channels at EFG Cos. After your next F&I presentation, ask yourself what percent of the time you talked vs. the percent your customer talked, he advises. Much beyond a 60-40 ratio would indicate you didn’t ask enough open-ended questions, making it difficult to zero in on the customer’s specific needs.... Read More »


Question vs. objection: Know the difference

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 30, 2015

Take note of customers' phrasing, advises Steve Klees, senior vice president of specialty channels for EFG Cos. “'How much does that cost?' is not the same as 'That costs too much,'” he says. The question should be “answered confidently, and then the customer should be asked to buy.”... Read More »


Use testimonials to sell service plans

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 23, 2015

Encourage customers to write online reviews when service contract claims are paid, advises John Stephens, senior vice president of dealer services at EFG Cos. “Pull up the reviews on an iPad while you are talking with your F&I customer about the protection and value of a vehicle service contract,” he said.... Read More »


Double-check loan work for faster funding

10:29 am U.S. ET | Dec. 16, 2015

F&I folks looking for faster funding could take a lesson from that jolly old elf. Make sure you know the document list, complete them all, then check 'em twice. Incomplete or inaccurate documents are behind nearly all funding delays, said Tom Anderson, former CEO of Exeter Finance Corp. “If F&I folks took a tiny bit more time to be clear on what the requirements are and make sure everything is included, funding would be faster.”... Read More »


Invest in an easy menu

10:37 am U.S. ET | Dec. 9, 2015

If your menu software isn’t easy to customize and doesn’t save you and the customer time, get rid of it, advises Ron Reahard of Reahard & Associates. “Too many dealers are penny-wise and pound-foolish” on this, he said.... Read More »


Ongoing training secures growth

10:39 am U.S. ET | Dec. 2, 2015

“An ongoing effort of training and practice will ensure consistent growth. Schedule it!” advises Rick McCormick of Reahard & Associates. F&I departments will meet dealership standards as long as they know what the standards are. Communicate them, he says.... Read More »


Think products, not dollars

10:17 am U.S. ET | Nov. 25, 2015

Set an F&I product goal per retail unit, instead of a dollars-per-unit target. Then offer a range of F&I products with your per-unit goal in mind, advises F&I expert George Angus. “If there’s a product not doing well, replace it with something else,” he said. Remember, though, “If you want to average two products per unit, you’re going to have to offer more than two products.” The average is three to six, he said.... Read More »


It pays to put fun into F&I

10:23 am U.S. ET | Nov. 18, 2015

As you bring customers into the F&I office, make them laugh, advises Ron Reahard, president of Reahard & Associates. “If you make people laugh, they like you. People buy products from people they like,” he said. When customers ask how long the process will take, say, “Three or four days. I hope you brought your sleeping bag.” It breaks the tension, and “selling anything is much easier when all parties are having fun.”... Read More »


Help customers do their homework

10:40 am U.S. ET | Nov. 11, 2015

Introduce F&I products online to help educate shoppers before they go to the showroom, advises Ali Mendiola, senior manager of business development at Dealertrack. When the dealership enables customers to learn about F&I products beforehand, she says, it helps “establish a dialogue about the entire process, create trust through transparency, and actually boost F&I sales.”... Read More »


Why bonding with sales staffers matters

10:27 am U.S. ET | Nov. 4, 2015

F&I managers should bond with salespeople and train them in the F&I process. That way, the salespeople will transfer the trust they build with customers to the F&I manager, says John Stephens, senior vice president of dealer services at EFG Cos. “Salespeople will endorse you and tell customers their happiest customers go through you,” Stephens says. “A salesperson has much more influence [on F&I] than most people give them credit for.”... Read More »


Draw out customers’ needs

11:42 am U.S. ET | Oct. 28, 2015

Ask questions to give customers a chance to talk, advises Rick McCormick of Reahard & Associates. “Customers do not come into the F&I office expecting to talk about themselves,” he says. Gathering information from what the customer says is the best way to “provide a targeted presentation as to why that particular customer needs a product.”... Read More »


Discuss financing privately

10:51 am U.S. ET | Oct. 21, 2015

Never discuss credit scores on the showroom floor, advises George Angus, president of F&I consulting firm Team One Group in Scottsdale, Ariz. It can be embarrassing for customers with bad credit, and it is a violation of privacy for customers no matter their score. Customers with good credit are “very aware of identity theft, and it can create anxiety,” he said. Financing discussions should be kept behind the closed door of the F&I office.... Read More »


To boost F&I sales, show customers damaged parts

11:14 am U.S. ET | Oct. 14, 2015

When selling service plans, tire-and-wheel, paint and fabric protection and other add-ons, show customers a damaged version of the item the add-on covers, such as a broken part, dented wheel, blown-out tire and what can happen to paint and fabric when left untreated, suggests Rick McCormick of Reahard & Associates. “Invisible coverage on invisible parts is a tough sell,” he says. “When customers can touch, feel and interact with a product, they are much more likely to buy it.... Read More »


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 »

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