How F&I and Service Can Help Each Other
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Two departments that seem worlds apart are service and the F&I office.
One deals with vehicle financing during the sale and the other only comes into play months later, right? As automotive professionals, you know that’s not actually the case, but that’s how the two departments are often treated.
In reality, the F&I department fuels much of the pre-delivery products. Detailing, delivery prep, protection packages, and accessories are primarily sold through a finance manager. It’s an often-unrecognized impact, but it’s significant when you look at the numbers.
These two departments don’t seem closely tied. There are plenty of opportunities for the two to work together to help each other. More importantly, when F&I and service team up, it benefits the store as a whole.
Partnerships Between Service and F&I
F&I to Service:
Generating service revenue that’s initiated by the F&I department is almost like free money. You’ll find that there’s virtually no objections because it’s referred business. And it goes a long way to rapport-building, according to CPI. Here’s what I mean.
• A deal can’t get a customer financed to replace their ailing car. Instead of the F&I manager shaking the customer’s hand and saying, “Sorry we can’t make it work”, they can walk the customer back to the service department and introduce them to a service advisor. “Until the new car financing works out, let’s make sure your car will keep working for you.”
• “Have you seen the new lift kit our service department has been installing? Your new truck would look great jacked up! Should we go price it out?” It might not be part of accessory sales in the F&I department, but suggesting vehicle mods after the sale can add amazing value for the customer while benefiting the service department.
Service to F&I:
• “Your warranty is almost over, Jim. Have you ever thought about an extended service contract for your SUV?” There’s a great opportunity available to boost service contract sales through the service department when service personnel are motivated to do so.
• “Yes, this repair is quite expensive. But if you’re interested in getting pre-approved for a new car instead, I can introduce you to our financial services manager.” Referral from the service department to an F&I manager turns a lost sale at the service desk into a potential new car sale.
You don’t often see paths cross between the finance managers and service advisors, but there are opportunities there. F&I managers can spend some time building relationships in the service drive, encouraging advisors in how they can work together. Pointing out benefits of doing so is very important, especially in commission-based service departments.
On the other side, service advisors and managers can approach F&I managers with opportunities to help the service department. Whether it’s boosting slack protection package sales with a spiff or talking through new ideas for collaboration, everyone stands to benefit.
Service and F&I are very different environments. However, everyone is still part of the same dealership team. Why not work together to help everyone do a little better?