With the push toward transparency across automotive retailing, more dealerships are putting F&I information online. As dealerships refine how F&I products should be presented online, one thing is clear: The handoff in-store must be seamless.
Most vehicle purchases are still conducted in-store, and the information presented on a dealership's website should support the brick-and-mortar operation. Knowing when and where to suggest an F&I product in the online process to mirror the experience in the F&I office requires working closely with the department to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Marie Knight, head of direct markets and programs strategic services for Zurich North America, says describing F&I products through online content such as videos and interactive brochures presents the information the way customers want to receive it -- on their own.
"Customers would buy more F&I products if they had the opportunity to better understand what they were outside of the pressure of the finance office," Knight said. "In the comfort of their own home, or when they're out and about and have some time to kill, the customer can access the dealer's website through any mobile device and can learn about the F&I products that are available for the vehicle that they plan to purchase."
Tethering F&I products to certain vehicles on the dealership's website gives customers an idea of the kinds of products applicable for their vehicle of choice, Knight said. Also having a link to the F&I products in a similar presentation style to what they could see in the finance office lets them explore the full shelf of offerings.
Matching in-store product presentations to what the customer finds online reaffirms the research done at home and builds trust in not only the finance office but the car-buying process as a whole.
When customers are armed with the basic understanding of what a product can do for their vehicle, the F&I manager can spend less time persuading them that they need it. By self-selecting online and confirming in the dealership that an F&I product will benefit them in the long run, the customers should leave the finance office feeling empowered and protected.