Ford to build additional 350 GT supercars, extend production by 2 years

The company had previously announced plans to build 1,000 GTs through the 2020 model year. It now says it will build a total of 1,350 vehicles through 2022.

Steel getting stronger, lighter to compete against aluminum's rise

Advanced high-strength steel, the newest, lightest steel invented, is aiming to hold off aluminum's rise as the metal of choice for an auto industry in the midst of major changes.

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How opinion becomes commitment

Ask your customer which deal meets their needs the best, advises Eric Mélon, president of sales at Innovative Aftermarket Systems. An opinion about a finance plan or product can quickly become a commitment once the F&I manager knows what the customer thinks about the process. “People love to give their opinion. They don't like to commit,” Mélon says. “If they say it, they believe it.”

N.Y. dealerships owe Nissan captive $40 million

Nissan Motor Acceptance Corp. is entitled to more than $40 million from several New York dealerships, their operating managers and their guarantors after the parties defaulted on floorplan, mortgage and revolving lines of credit loans, and personal guarantees.

Set the right expectations

If your sales team also helps with F&I, make sure it is up to date on market trends, such as the Federal Reserve rate, says Dwayne Wiggins, an F&I trainer. “Be sure that there’s effective communication between the F&I office and the sales desk so that when they work their deals upfront, [they don’t] set the expectations the wrong way because that could limit opportunities for everybody.”

Does Connecticut amendment on lending violate U.S. discrimination laws?

An amendment to the Connecticut Retail Installment Sales Finance Act requires auto lenders -- and possibly F&I managers -- to ask applicants in the state for their race, ethnicity and gender. Some, including the state's banking commissioner, wonder whether asking such a question could violate federal discrimination laws.

Scoring technique switch expands Prestige portfolio

After tightening lending standards two years ago, Prestige Financial's auto loan portfolio shrunk. To increase business, the subprime lender six months ago replaced its legacy scoring techniques with software from ZestFinance.

Put compliance training first

All incoming employees should be exposed to written compliance procedures, according to Jenn Reid, a senior director at Equifax Automotive Services. Make sure all employees are given a copy and are properly trained on the dealership's compliance procedures long before they start on the sales floor. “If it’s not a part of your training or in your handbook, it’s not a process,” Reid said.

Credit freeze could lengthen F&I transaction

A change to the Fair Credit Reporting Act that allows customers to "freeze" their credit reports free of charge acts as a temporary shield from fraudsters and identity thieves, but the freeze also can slow a transaction in the F&I office to a glacial pace.

Ensure refunds go right

Develop processes to track F&I product refunds if a customer cancels, advises Deanna Stockamp, partner at Stockamp and Brown. If the customer financed the product, the refund needs to go to the lender. If the dealer sends the refund to the customer, "You're not going to see that money again," Stockamp says.

Good experience? Pass it along

Ask satisfied customers to leave online reviews, recommends Tony Dupaquier, director of The Academy, an F&I training company. Online reviews reach more customers than word-of-mouth, and positive comments online can make a big difference. “Super happy people rarely write a review,” he said. “Pissed-off people do.”

Vendor strategies for expansion

For F&I vendors, there is no cookie-cutter approach to business expansion in the ecosystem of dealers, automakers and captive lenders. When pitching potential clients, deciding who to approach first can depend on a variety of factors unique to each business model or product.

How vendors sell dealers

Pitching a service or pilot system to a dealer can be an arduous process, especially when faced with a growing laundry list of competitors. Here's how some vendors get dealers to listen.

How vendors avoid overload

Vendors that have successful partnerships with dealerships do their homework and follow the dealerships' lead when it comes to the frequency and style of communication.

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