Word tracks, once a standard in the F&I industry, may be falling by the wayside, and for good reason, according to a recent survey and F&I experts.
In an Automotive News-DealerRater survey of 2,913 recent car buyers from July 10-12, three-quarters of respondents said that both the salesperson and F&I manager tailored the presentation to the respondent's circumstances rather than sticking to a script.
About 12 percent of respondents said the salesperson and F&I manager both stuck to a script, and 11 percent said the salesperson tailored the presentation to his or her circumstances while the F&I manager stuck to a script.
Word tracks have been around since at least the late 1970s, according to George Angus, president of F&I consulting firm Team One Group in Scottsdale, Ariz. While they're written in theory to connect with all consumers, they can be widely ineffective among certain groups.
For example, word tracks may not work on younger buyers, Scott Gunnell, vice president of sales strategy and development at JM&A Group, pointed out in late 2015. "Millennials are looking for an authentic transaction," he said.
Angus wrote in an industry email this month that memorized word tracks often use "officious" language that sounds insincere and scripted, which usually leads to sales resistance. The way consumers speak also varies geographically, Angus said.
"On top of that, Honda buyers can be somewhat different than the Dodge buyers right down the street," he wrote. "And then, of course, Volvo and Subaru buyers tend to be a little different than anybody, anywhere."
F&I managers should speak naturally and conversationally with customers, Angus wrote in the email. Doing so will automatically make the conversation appeal to the customer because the F&I manager probably speaks similarly to consumers who live near the dealership, he said.
F&I managers should explain the product as if they were talking to a friend. "You wouldn't tell a friend who asked you what credit insurance is, 'Wouldn't it be nice, in the event of your untimely death, to have a free and clear title, etc., etc.,'" Angus said. "You would just say, 'It pays off your car if you die,' wouldn't you? And then your friend would know what the product is."
A natural way of speaking keeps the product description simple and saves time, he said, adding: "Your natural speech and syntax will make your customers more comfortable than any memorized word track."