The New World of F&I - Phase Three - A Smooth F&I Office Transition

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An important role in the financial services process falls squarely on the sales consultant’s shoulders. 

The third phase is the transition between the sales and F&I departments. They are tricky waters to navigate as you prep the customer for the financial services advisor while keeping them confident in their purchasing decision. It helps, though, if the financial services advisor has been able to make contact online through a credit app or vehicle pre-approval, but that’s not always the case. 

Understanding and implementing five steps in this phase will greatly help the transition from sales to the financial services advisor.

Paint the Broad Strokes for the Customer

Some customers know what’s coming while others – especially first-time car buyers – could be nervous about going into the F&I office. The salesperson should set up the financial services process for the customer, giving them an overview of its importance and what they’re about to experience. Done well, it’s an excellent opportunity to built trust, show transparency, and lower tension.

Perform the Wants and Needs Assessment

Some wants and needs are unveiled in a sales questionnaire, but the financial services questions might take a slightly different direction. During this brief period between the sales and F&I steps, it’s a great time to explore questions that will be helpful to the financial services advisor. 

•    Determine how many miles the customer drives and where they store their vehicle. 
•    Ask about their previous experiences with financial services and products, and which ones they found beneficial. 
•    Casually ask where they service their vehicles and how long they keep their cars. It opens up a dialog and aids the financial services advisor in choosing the right route to take.  

Explore Financing Options and Explain Terms

No two customers are exactly alike, and offering choices is so important. Give customers options for financing – bank rate with incentives versus subvented rate, payment over 60 months versus 72 months, and monthly payments based on different down payment amounts as well. 

Take the opportunity to clarify the terms of the financing agreement and ask if there are any questions the customer has since the sales agreement. Being open like this develops trust and value in you and your dealership and keeps the customer open while they wait for the financial services advisor. 

Are the Car and the Customer a Match?

It’s not too late to make a change if there’s something not quite right - the agreement hasn’t been financed yet. Think about the phrase “Car Right, Right Car”. Is the car right for the customer? Are they getting the right vehicle for their needs and wants? Likewise, confirm that the vehicle information on the purchase order is correct as well as price, term, and interest rate. Avoid the nightmare of unwinding a deal based on a clerical error. 

Offer Value During the Wait

Customers can cool off when left to their own devices. Never let customers sit alone and unoccupied while waiting for the financial services advisor. Although the goal is to keep the wait as short as possible, it can be necessary to fill in the gap. Build value while they wait: 
•    take them on a service walk
•    Set up the first service appointment
•    Provide a dealership background
•    And set up their in-car technology while waiting for the F&I advisor. 

Keep the customer engaged and active during the wait. Do you have a tablet on hand? Pull up your manufacturer’s Youtube channel to play ‘how to’ videos while they relax.