Lammers is also general manager of Volkswagen of Ann Arbor and Audi Ann Arbor, which, like Porsche of Ann Arbor, are owned by Germain Automotive Group in Columbus, Ohio. But he's testing his ideas mostly at the Porsche store because about 90 percent of the new vehicles it sells are factory-built to buyers' specifications, and it could be days or weeks before the buyers take possession. That time frame offers flexibility to slow down the F&I process, making it less about selling and more about information sharing, he said.
Here's how it works: The traditional sales department turnover to the F&I department — in which the salesperson, after the customer selects a vehicle, passes him or her to the finance manager for another hour or so of deal structuring, F&I product review and paperwork completion — is suspended in cases where a customer orders a new vehicle and same-day delivery is precluded. Instead, the finance manager or salesperson sets up four 10- to 15-minute meetings with the customer, usually over the phone, to go over F&I products and paperwork before the vehicle arrives and delivery is made.
Under the new protocol, Lammers said, when the salesperson introduces the customer to the finance manager, the manager explains to the customer: "We're trying something new that will allow you to focus on your car in the delivery process. We still have an obligation to show you all our products and explain the paperwork, but this allows you to slowly process it before the delivery."
The finance manager sets up a phone appointment with the customer and emails him or her a digital F&I menu of products for discussion during the call. The manager tells the customer: "We don't expect you to say yes or no right then because there is still time to decide, and I will follow up with you, or you can follow up with your salesperson with questions," Lammers said.
There are a few more follow-up calls to discuss F&I products and confirm that all documentation is correct. When the customer takes delivery, the paperwork has been printed and awaits signature. There's no reviewing F&I products at that point.
"The benefit for the customer is it's the exact opposite of getting them in the F&I office and pressing them to make a decision," Lammers said. It also shaves about 30 minutes off the delivery time when the customer comes in to get the car.
The benefit to the dealership is more opportunities to sell F&I products. "Maybe you can sense the customer didn't want the maintenance plan or extended warranty, but the customer really liked their wheels," Lammers said. "Now you have time to revisit wheel-and-tire protection with the customer."