The right F&I product presentation, according to Dealer Principal Earl Stewart, is "simplified and totally transparent."
It's hard to sacrifice F&I profits, which dealerships increasingly relied upon in recent years amid shrinking margins on new-vehicle sales. That puts pressure on the F&I office, and in turn, on the customers who enter it.
"Consumers that are sophisticated enough to know they can shop online, shopping the price of the car, they don't shop for the F&I products online," Stewart said.
Combating that imbalance takes full digital transparency, he said. Rather than narrow the list of F&I products online, Stewart advocates for a full shopping experience.
"Put all of them online," he said. "You don't know what the customer really truly wants. Once he narrows it down, then they can come in."
A one-touch F&I and sales process is something Stewart has considered for a long time. JM&A's program is a step in that direction, but the dealership is still navigating how F&I is incorporated into the process.
JM&A will sell products from Stewart's own warranty company. Stewart said he can send customers directly to JM&A employees for the presentation. "It takes a different person to do finance-and-insurance sales and car sales," he said. "It would be impractical, asking an F&I person to sell the car."
While much progress has been made incorporating F&I educational and purchase options online, space for a finance consultant is still necessary. Prime Automotive offered to deliver vehicles to customers' homes during the pandemic, though many refused, Skelton said. Buyers wanted to go into the dealerships to speak with consultants, and many of their questions were finance-related.
"We know that most people are not any time soon going to go through the entire process," Skelton said. "We're probably still better pitching F&I on a one-on-one basis than the computer would be. But from what we've seen, this is what we've got."