At Ferman BMW in Palm Harbor, Fla., customers have little need for service contracts. A new Bimmer has a factory warranty of up to four years or 50,000 miles.
But drivers will open their wallets to insure against dings from runaway shopping carts. Up to 30 percent of the customers buy paintless dent removal coverage from the dealership. They are also big fans of tire and wheel hazard coverage.
Customers see these policies as a worthwhile investment, says Ferman business director Russell Schon. "People hear a lot about the return on their money," Schon notes.
With growing numbers of customers saying no to service contracts, less expensive F&I products such as tire hazard coverage and windshield repair are becoming serious moneymakers.
About half a dozen products are sold in a typical F&I office these days. Most appeared in the last 10 years, says Dave Duncan, senior vice president of sales at Safe-Guard Products International LLC, a company based in Atlanta.
As a group, they have a higher penetration rate than service contracts. "Without these ancillary products, you're dead in the water," Duncan says.
Among them the most popular is guaranteed automotive protection, or GAP, insurance, which covers the difference between what insurance companies will pay on a totaled vehicle and what the buyer owes on it. Duncan estimates that 35 percent of buyers choose GAP.
Tire and wheel coverage and VIN-etch theft protection are hot sellers, as well as paintless dent removal, key replacement coverage, biweekly pay-ment plans and environmental products such as paint sealant and fabric care.