F&I Tips


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 »


Spot delivery? Consider delaying the F&I pitch

12:01 am U.S. ET | April 15, 2015

Customers already overwhelmed by the vehicle deal may reject an immediate F&I sales pitch, says Suzanne Cochrane, general manager at Helms Brothers Inc., a Mercedes-Benz dealership in Bayside, N.Y. Instead, for spot deliveries, her store sends the client out for a meal -- and picks up the tab -- while it runs the paperwork. The F&I menu is reviewed when the client gets back. F&I sales haven’t suffered, she says. It's a "much nicer experience for the client and worth the ... bill."... Read More »


It pays to do your homework

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

F&I managers build credibility -- and sales -- when they know the details of the service contracts they sell. "Read it cover to cover. Know the exceptions and limitations for all of them," advises F&I veteran Jacqueline Paquette-Weedo. Finance managers should also know manufacturer warranties inside and out, she says. "It helps handle objections, limit chargebacks and adds incredible credibility to our jobs as F&I professionals."... Read More »


Light days should never be lazy days

10:10 am U.S. ET | April 1, 2015

Don’t while away the hours on a slow day. “Focus on constructive activities,” George Angus, head trainer at Team One Group, advises F&I managers. “Use this time to hone your skills. Practice your presentation. Develop your lender relations. Be a cheerleader. Whether you know it or not, the people around you look to you for direction.”... Read More »


Take advantage of those pesky potholes

9:33 am U.S. ET | March 25, 2015

It’s spring, time for roads to thaw and F&I managers to stockpile news items on the giant potholes lying in wait. “The Asbury Park Press is full of them,” says Chris Bell, finance director for Freehold Buick-GMC, near the Jersey shore. He has a display stand outside his office, but instead of holding shiny, new wheels it houses dinged up ones. Sales of tire-and-wheel plans “always go up” as a result of winter weather, he says.... Read More »


Better shred than read

11:20 am U.S. ET | March 18, 2015

Timely shredding is an important way to keep confidential customer and dealership information confidential. “The bad guys are not beyond rooting through your trash can looking for identities to steal,” says Boulton Fernando, chief security officer at Toyota Financial Services. “The same applies to wiping of old personal computers, mobile phones and servers. If not disposed of correctly, data can easily be retrieved from hard drives. Shred it!”... Read More »


Technical safeguards need human backup

10:31 am U.S. ET | March 11, 2015

It’s easy to assume that technology alone can protect customer data. In fact, safeguarding data is the responsibility of everyone at the dealership, says Boulton Fernando, chief security officer at Toyota Financial Services. “Technology alone is never enough,” he says. “The bad guys will look for the weakest links, and these are often the untrained and careless employee who believes that ‘anti-virus’ and ‘firewalls’ mean they are safe.”... Read More »


Allow customers time to ponder

11:08 am U.S. ET | March 4, 2015

Customers sometimes need to go home and think, and that’s OK, says Brandon Wood, finance manager at Van Bortel Ford in East Rochester, N.Y. “I work for a dealer principal who never wants any customer feeling pressured, period,” he says. Wood sometimes emails customers a menu of F&I products to look over. He’s created different templates for new-car purchases, used, certified pre-owned and leases. “This saves so much time!”... Read More »


Advanced knowledge makes for easier sell

10:26 am U.S. ET | Feb. 25, 2015

Some F&I managers don't interview customers before they get to the F&I office for fear of provoking sales resistance. But Fred Gitter, business manager for Lia Honda in Albany, N.Y., makes it a point to interview first-time customers so he can set up a customized menu. "A quick understanding of who I am dealing with ... and a quick overview of their driving habits," Gitter says, makes for an easier sell.... Read More »


Focus on customers’ needs, not numbers

11:03 am U.S. ET | Feb. 18, 2015

Here’s an experiment for March. For the entire month, don’t peek at the numbers. Pay attention only to customers’ needs and wants. Jason Melton, finance manager at Roger Jobs Porsche in Bellingham, Wash., did the test in January and discovered at month’s end he had improved 10 to 15 percent per retail unit. Through Feb. 15, he improved some more.... Read More »


To sell F&I, keep calm and carry on

10:26 am U.S. ET | Feb. 11, 2015

F&I managers can’t let frustration over customer objections show, even with body language, which can say: “If you’re not going to buy anything, then get the heck out of my office,” according to F&I trainer Ron Reahard. It’s important to explore the customer’s real motivation. Use reflective probes, Reahard advises, such as, “So you feel like it’s more than you can afford?” or “You’re not sure you need the protection?”... Read More »


Long-distance sale? Pitch F&I anyway

9:56 am U.S. ET | Feb. 4, 2015

Got customers who sometimes order vehicles from a great distance away? Email an F&I menu and brochures for, say, an extended service contract, tire-and-wheel and key replacement, suggests Joe Serra, financial services manager at McDermott Lexus of New Haven (Conn.). That's what he does. “Obviously, I'd rather do it face to face, but at that point it's a zero,” he says. “Any sale I make is gravy.”... Read More »


Keep videos short -- no feature presentations

10:03 am U.S. ET | Jan. 28, 2015

Dealerships that use videos to pitch F&I products or explain product features on an iPad need to keep them short, no more than a couple minutes. “People start out with these 12-minute videos. No way is anybody going to watch all that,” said David Putz, head of direct markets for Zurich North America Commercial, of Overland Park, Kan.... Read More »


Stick to measurable goals in 2015

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

“Make more money” sounds like a good aim, but it’s not an effective 2015 goal, says George Angus, head F&I trainer for Team One. Instead, realistically assess your current numbers. Pick specific, measurable goals, such as increasing penetration of one F&I product at a time, he advises. “The reality is that a dealer isn’t going to hit a switch and all of a sudden double their income per unit. It’s just not a realistic goal.”... Read More »


Customers' spills provide great selling points

10:29 am U.S. ET | Jan. 14, 2015

Real-life examples illustrate the value of fabric protection, says Linda Benthien Flannigan, finance manager for Titus-Will Chevrolet-GMC-Buick-Cadillac in Olympia, Wash. One customer's child vomited red Gatorade all over the cream-colored interior of a Cadillac Escalade. To the customer's surprise, there was zero lasting damage. Same with the bloody nose of another customer's son. Those examples can help pitch new customers. “I have had customers come back and thank me,” she said.... Read More »


Selling fabric protection? Skip the coffee

10:45 am U.S. ET | Jan. 7, 2015

When pitching fabric protection, don’t mention a specific stain, advises Kevin Grant, finance manager at Prestige Land Rover of Paramus (N.J.). F&I managers commonly warn customers that eventually they’ll spill their coffee, but that can backfire. Some customers respond: “That can’t happen to me. I don’t drink coffee.” Instead, Grant said, stick to a simple truth: Sooner or later, everybody spills.... Read More »


Stress timely payments from the get-go

11:04 am U.S. ET | Dec. 30, 2014

Subprime loans often go bad when the consumer misses one of the very first payments. Paul McCarthy, F&I Director at Stevenson Automotive Group in Jacksonville, N.C., recommends F&I managers explain to subprime borrowers the importance of making each payment on time, maybe even a day or two early. This can help the individual improve his or her credit score, and the lender will appreciate it.... Read More »


A rational ratio = F&I success

12:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 23, 2014

What’s a good mix of F&I revenue? Paul McCarthy, F&I director at Stevenson Automotive Group in Jacksonville, N.C., says dealerships that rely on dealer reserve for 40 percent of their F&I revenue are “going to be in trouble.”... Read More »


A picture perfect way to sell GAP

11:01 am U.S. ET | Dec. 17, 2014

To pitch guaranteed asset protection, use a visual to illustrate unexpected events, suggests Chris Shields, business manager for Mountain Valley Motors (Chrysler-Jeep-Dodge-Ram) in Blue Ridge, Ga. GAP pays the shortfall if insurance proceeds on a stolen or totaled vehicle aren’t enough to pay the owner’s loan or lease balance. Shields got his prop the hard way: “I show a picture of my wife’s totaled Mazda, when a huge tree limb fell on it right in our driveway.”... Read More »


The power of a prop

11:09 am U.S. ET | Dec. 10, 2014

To show the benefit of interior fabric stain-proofing, Justin Gasman, finance director for McCaddon Cadillac-Buick-GMC in Boulder, Colo., uses a simple prop provided by the manufacturer of the coating: a small card with a line down the middle. One side is treated, the other untreated. A drop of oil wipes right off the treated side. Another drop soaks into the untreated side. Says Gasman: “Most people see the value in it.”... Read More »


Why the need for GAP is real

11:35 am U.S. ET | Dec. 3, 2014

A common customer objection to GAP is: “I’ve never had a car stolen.” F&I trainer Ron Reahard suggests responding: “I’m glad to hear that. Auto theft is such a huge problem today, which is why virtually every new vehicle we sell comes standard with a security system from the manufacturer.” Emphasize to customers that if their car is stolen when new, they are at the greatest risk because their loan balance is at its highest, he adds.... Read More »


Do-it-yourself maintenance? Not possible

11:06 am U.S. ET | Nov. 26, 2014

Explain the value of an extended service contract by comparing repairing today’s vehicles to fixing a computer. You can’t do it yourself, says Dina Wilson, finance director for Timbrook Automotive Group in Cumberland, Md. “You used to be able to access everything under the hood. Today, everything is computerized and harder to maintain,” she said at an industry conference. “If something goes wrong with your computer, you usually just have to replace it.”... Read More »


Do customers balk at signing a screen? Easy does it

12:03 pm U.S. ET | Nov. 19, 2014

To ease customers into signing electronic documents, introduce a simple document for them to sign early in the F&I process, advised Mark Singleton, senior vice president at Reynolds and Reynolds Co. “Have them do a Department of Motor Vehicles form or an odometer form. It’s easy to do that upfront. The way the world works now, they have a fun demo ride, then they get turned over to the finance manager. ... It’s a turnoff.”... Read More »


Pitch service plans one by one

10:25 am U.S. ET | Nov. 12, 2014

Present just one extended service plan at a time, and have a backup plan handy, F&I trainer Ron Reahard advises. Offering a range of plans at once creates confusion. Start with the best, most expensive plan. If the customer’s response is indecision or an objection, he says, offer the next-best, and so on.... Read More »


The wrong words can kill a sale

11:29 am U.S. ET | Nov. 5, 2014

Don’t use the words “cash down,” says Peter Velau, president of the training division at Southwest Dealer Services. “The customer thinks that’s bad. The word [term] itself is a negative in their head.” Instead, he advises managers selling F&I products: “Explain it just as ‘You’re buying this.’”... Read More »

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