Make it transparent:
“Transparency in F&I is coming; it’s the new green,” says F&I consultant Gerry Gould, president of Gerry Gould & Associates. That means starting with a robust online presence, Gould says. Rather than just a payment calculator, a dealership website should offer a menu of available F&I products, plus videos and customer testimonials that highlight the benefits of enrolling. Gould also says dealers need to make F&I managers available to respond to shoppers who click on website chat options.
Make it consistent:
Successful dealers say they use the same approach for every deal. More often, that means fixed pricing on F&I products and an F&I pay plan that supports that approach. “A pay plan geared toward overall product sales, with standardized pricing, will get different results than a pay plan geared toward profit,” Gould says.
Ally’s Garroni says that as an increasing percentage of shoppers’ research vehicle service contracts online, forward-thinking dealers are posting F&I product menus — with prices. “If a dealer feels confident, they’ve got a good product with a fair price, we’re going to see more of those dealers posting prices online,” he says.
Make it simple:
Offer a limited assortment of products. “Choose the right products that really have value for your customers,” Garroni says. “Don’t just sign up for things that are new and exciting to you as a retailer.”
Make it about the customer:
“Just tell people what you do in F&I, that you’re there to enhance their buying experience,” Gould says. “F&I managers often are too salesy in the beginning. Customers just want to have a conversation.” Stephanie Cooper, finance manager for Timbrook Chevrolet in Keyser, W.Va. adds: “My job is to provide them with the right information and let them choose. ... F&I managers need to be honest, offer full disclosure, and not be afraid to quote a payment to the penny. Do the right thing for the customer, and it will all fall into place.” Part of that, Garroni says, is moving customers through the process as quickly as possible.
Make it an ongoing relationship:
F&I does not have to be a singular event. Service contracts, Tire & Wheel, Paint & Fabric and other protections can be sold after customers drive away. “Our service advisers refer leads to me all the time,” Cooper says. “We have customers who buy their second car here — and when they do, ask if they can add the same coverage to their other car.”