As dealerships scramble to sell every product they can, friction often builds between the salespeople on the showroom floor and the finance experts in the F&I office. They depend on each other yet in some ways they work at cross-purposes.
To sell vehicles, salespeople strive to convince customers that their new cars are the best ever. To sell extended service contracts and other F&I products, F&I managers remind customers that bad things happen and that vehicles -- including the ones the customers have just agreed to buy -- break down.
To bridge that divide, dealerships wrestle with having salespeople initiate a conversation about F&I products before customers reach the F&I office. Some F&I insiders embrace the move, especially if a customer looks like a good F&I candidate. Others say it's dicey because salespeople, in their zeal to close the deal, could say things to customers that might not comply with finance rules. And still other F&I experts say the solution lies somewhere in between.
F&I trainer George Angus says that salespeople shouldn't even mention F&I products. Decades ago, he didn't feel that way.
"When I was a sales manager, a general sales manager, I used to teach salespeople to do an introduction: 'This is Bob, our business manager. Hey, Bob, be sure to tell Mr. Jones about that service contract.' What we found -- this is stuff from the '70s -- as we entered the consumer age, all it did was create sales resistance," says Angus, F&I products head trainer for Team One Group in Scottsdale, Ariz.
"The message the customer heard was, 'Hey, this guy's going to try to sell you a service contract.' We want the presentation to be controlled by F&I, so we know exactly what was presented, exactly what occurred."
That way, he says, "We know the salesperson didn't say anything wrong. We're convinced that works the best."