F&I managers know the auto finance landscape fluctuates depending on changes in the economy, underwriting standards, consumers' options and more. But there's at least one constant: Car buyers remain wary of finance and insurance.
So it's imperative that F&I managers and dealership sales staffers develop presentation styles that help F&I skeptics sort through their misgivings.
Working with customers early in the process — ideally via the dealership's website ahead of entering the showroom — and enabling them to steer the timetable and presentation of information is one of the best ways to short-circuit customer objections before they arise.
But even F&I departments that take the utmost care in interviews and presentations still will find customers who balk at the next step.
"We do have the occasional customers that say, 'Don't tell me about anything else,'" said Melissa Bell, finance director at Findlay Honda in Henderson, Nev. Bell's dealership relies heavily on menus but has subtly worked props into the presentation. "I don't think any of us have set word tracks, but we do move into different approaches," she said.
When customers balk at an extended warranty, Bell said, the store's finance managers may take extra time outlining the coverage included in a manufacturer's warranty and how that will impact them based on the terms of their loan and mileage.
"We then hit the three major areas customers may incur additional costs," she said. Those are: depreciation stemming from total loss or theft; routine maintenance, such as oil changes and tire rotation; and wear and hazard costs surrounding wheels, tires, windshield, keys and dents and dings.
"That prompts them to ask questions about the areas that most interest them," she said. "That approach works better than asking them questions and forcing them to answer."
But how do you answer when you've given customers your best information and they still offer deal-ending objections? While many F&I professionals say that no is sometimes really no and has to be respected, there are ways to respond that might save a sale.
Consider these options from Bell; Stephanie Cooper, finance manager at Timbrook Automotive in Cumberland, Md.; and Mike Walsh, new-car manager at Soerens Ford of Brookfield (Wis.).