LAS VEGAS -- The days of peddling "rust and dust" are gone. Finance and insurance managers must sell products that offer a substantial benefit to customers, and they need to present the products honestly and clearly to earn trust.
"The consumer is different. We have to become more accommodating and transparent," said Forrest Heathcott, president of the F&I provider JM&A Group, of Deerfield Beach, Fla. Heathcott spoke here last month at the F&I Management & Technology Conference and Expo.
In panel discussions and its exhibition, the conference revealed promising products and technology. Here's a look at some of the top product trends:
1 Windshield protection. Dealers are selling windshield repair and replacement coverage. Windshields frequently chip and crack and replacement is costly, so customers see it as a substantial benefit.
2 Bundled products. Some products sell better when they're bundled with other products and offered as a packaged deal. "The customer might not like tire-and-wheel, but they like dent-and-windshield repair," said Glenn Nielsen, vice president of sales for Innovative Aftermarket Systems in Austin, Texas.
3 One-year freebies. Dealers are giving away one year of free coverage on a product the customer chooses, such as paintless dent repair or fabric protection.
4 Zero percent aftermarket financing. Universal Lenders, of Schiller Park, Ill., offers no-interest financing on F&I aftermarket products. Dealers are selling more service plans after the purchase, and this financing makes the sale easier.
5 Credit repair. Credit Forget It, of New York, packages credit repair services with identity-theft protection contracts. The credit repair service is free to retail customers, and the identity-theft protection is a paid upgrade. The credit repair can boost customers' credit ratings and help them get financed on better terms.
6 Shortening the trading cycle. AutoAlert Inc., of Laguna Woods, Calif., offers software that helps dealers identify customers with equity in their vehicles. The software also allows dealers to work up some attractive lease or finance terms for these prospects to lure them out of their lease or finance contract early.