Worried that long waits in your F&I office are irritating customers? Karl Chevrolet in Ankeny, Iowa, isn't. Not anymore.
That's because the suburban Des Moines store's automated scheduling system and monitor-equipped F&I waiting area work in tandem to connect customers with finance managers faster.
Since the redesigned finance area opened in March 2011, F&I wait times have nearly vanished, customers are buying more aftermarket products -- service contract sales are up 10 to 15 percent -- and salespeople, relieved of caring for waiting customers, are freer to sell more cars.
A little over a year ago, Karl Chevrolet moved its new-car delivery area to another part of the store and converted the vacated space into an octagon-shaped F&I waiting room that houses a finance office along each wall. Customers seated in the center of the octagon can view two computer monitors that track appointment times.
The monitors are tied to software developed by Karl's in-house programmer that assigns customers to one of the dealership's nine finance managers and four delivery coordinators. The customized software makes it easy for sales staff to book a customer's F&I appointment in advance or to find a finance manager on the spot to close a deal. Salespeople simply click an icon on their personal computers to see which finance managers and delivery coordinators are available and when. Information is updated throughout the day, so sales folks know times are accurate.