Effective negotiation requires charisma, confidence, knowledge and, many experts believe, eye contact. For dealerships pivoting to remote F&I product sales during COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, the inability to sit down with customers to talk about product sales is a hindrance to profitability.
Face-to-face interaction, whether in person or over video, are more compelling, and experts say it can really make a difference.
Jamie Payne, general manager of Planet Hyundai in Golden, Colo., said the F&I process doesn't work as well over the phone, particularly when trying to sell to people.
"There's a lot of other distractions when you don't have anyone looking you in the eye," Payne said. "If I was trying to buy a car at home on the phone, there's probably not a lot of listening to the finance department that I would have time for."
For Payne, there's a level of respect generated by eye contact that focuses the buyer's attention on the process.
F&I software provider Darwin Automotive has incorporated videoconferencing into its digital platform, allowing F&I managers to pitch products to consumers in a face-to-face environment without having to toggle to a different screen.
The ability to share a screen and look at one another at the same time may be a small convenience, but it could make a big impact on an F&I manager's profitability. Dealerships hamstrung by remote operations should consider investing in online videoconferencing tools and work to incorporate them in the sales process as much as possible during the crisis.