F&I manager Stephanie Cooper tells the story of how a pump bottle of hand sanitizer helped her sell an extended warranty to a millennial couple.
Cooper looked at the bottle while copying the couple's hand cleaning, remarking how the cleaner destroyed 99.9 percent of germs and wondering aloud about the other 0.1 percent. Within minutes, she had moved the conversation from hand cleaner to parts of the couple's new car not covered under a warranty. The couple bought the extended warranty.
"It worked because I put it into terms they understood -- they were very germ-conscious about their baby -- and the warranty answered their needs. And I asked her to do the calculations on her phone so she could see the numbers for herself," said Cooper, of Timbrook Automotive dealership group, which has stores in Cumberland, Md., and Keyser, W.Va.
A casual, targeted approach is an important tool for all finance managers when selling to Gen Y, experts say. That's especially true given their growing impact on the auto market. Millennials bought 4.1 million new vehicles in 2016, representing 29 percent of U.S. new-vehicle retail sales, data from J.D. Power's Power Information Network data show. And they will likely account for about 40 percent of the market by 2020.
"You remember the dinosaur and what happened to them?" said Mark Scarpelli, 2017 chairman of the National Automobile Dealers Association. "You either need to adapt or coexist, or you are extinct in the car business. When it comes to selling and adapting to Generation Y and the upcoming [Gen Z], I have seen many dealers use very creative means they would never have tried even two years ago."