F&I Tips


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 »


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 »