Ignoring the reality of our current crisis is now fatal in our field. The information we provide must be relevant or we risk losing the customer for good.
For example, the global consulting company Deloitte found that electronics now account for 40 percent of a vehicle's total cost. Most manufacturers make few, if any, of those electronics.
Customers are loyal to brands — whether domestic or import — and trust these manufacturers to continue making dependable, high-quality vehicles.
But while the mechanical elements of any vehicle rise in reliability, the same can't be said for all the new electronic components. Electronics are developing so rapidly that vehicles are being equipped with brand-new, barely tested technologies. These components have very little track record, and most are non-serviceable.
The best a consumer can hope for is that these new electronics perform and remain reliable when it counts. This type of information is essential for the customer experience. It can be the difference between the customer making an informed buying decision or not.
Peace of mind is at a premium.
The pandemic's disruption of previously constant norms has resulted in a desire for stability. The products we offer in the F&I office reduce risk in the case of an unanticipated event, providing customers peace of mind. In uncertain times, there is nothing more valuable than that.
Yet, customers are looking for more. They expect their needs and purchase experience to be the primary focus of those in the F&I office. They want to know the products are more than just products, and that they will be specifically adapted to address their personal situation.
Customers are perceptive. They can tell if the F&I professional is helping them or selling them. They are looking for someone seeking a connection, not a commission.
The moment a customer feels understood, the buying comes naturally. Happy customers embrace the products they purchase, which makes for a more fulfilling experience for the F&I manager.
Our industry struggled to adapt at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak before eventually adjusting to the new processes needed to operate. But as soon as we felt the pandemic-related shutdowns were waning, many F&I managers wanted to drop the new procedures and return to the "way we've always done it."