How to Defuse the F&I Struggle at Your Dealership
Many customers enjoy getting a new car – but none look forward to dealing with the finance and insurance (F&I) department.
Most buyers feel like they’re about to get into a boxing ring when they step into the F&I office. And as department manager, it’s your job to disarm them. Here’s how to make it happen.
How to improve the F&I experience at your dealership
F&I is one of the most stressful parts of car buying for both the customer and the department manager. But it doesn’t have to be that way – follow these tips to transform the finance experience at your dealership.
One in three customers is dissatisfied with their interactions with the financing department, according to AutoTrader’s Car Buyer Journey study. Starting the F&I process early will help boost these figures.
There are several ways you can start early. One method is “self-desking” starting where buyers can view and select F&I options online. With this strategy, the transaction is complete before the customer ever sets foot in the dealership.
But what if the customer skips self-desking on the website? Not to worry; you can take steps to improve the process at the dealership. For instance, salespeople should introduce the F&I manager early on to prepare customers for the finance process. Product advisors can also help by ensuring accurate information when estimating payments.
All of the methods mentioned above are designed to do one thing: ease the buyer into the F&I process. Pouncing on them at the last minute is stressful and can ruin the car buying experience.
Meet the customer on their terms
These days, very few people stroll into a dealership to buy a car without going online first. So, it’s important to meet the customer on their terms – and that means digitally. Answer any inventory questions they may have while also presenting financing options.
Once again, the idea is to have the transaction almost entirely complete before the customer walks into the dealership. Doing so helps make the buying process quick and easy. And, as any marketing expert will tell you, many of today’s consumers prize convenience above all else.
Customers are often afraid they will be taken advantage of during the F&I process. Being upfront from the beginning helps to ease their fears. Confirm buyers understand each bit of information you give them; doing so will ensure a stress-free transaction and avoid confrontation down the road.
Additionally, don’t forget to answer any questions customers may have, while also asking questions yourself. Listening and being inquisitive are both ways to build rapport and good communication.
Renowned F&I trainer, Rebecca Chernek, says it best: “Meeting customers online on their terms – being upfront and transparent from the beginning – builds trust. It tells the customer you’re not playing games. It’s essential the simple, easy process you offer online stays simple and easy in the store! You can’t make customers start the process over again after they get into the dealership. Today’s consumers have rejected the old way of doing business. They want express service [Chernek].”
Be respectful of the customer’s time
Most importantly of all – be respectful of the customer’s time. People have better things to do than sit through a barrage of financing options and sales pitches. Make sure the entire F&I process is streamlined so it takes as little time as possible.
Even if you’re busy, make sure the customer doesn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes (there should be no wait if they’ve started the process online). Having to wait for something you dread is a terrible experience; just think of how you feel in the reception room at the dentist.
Also, some dealerships use a tablet so buyers can begin the F&I process on their own by answering questions. The tactic speeds up the transaction while also making time go by more quickly. E-contracting (i.e., filling deals electronically) also helps to save time [Demare].
And the answer is…training!
All of the above tactics are excellent, but for them to really hit home with your team, quality training is required. Ted Ings and the Center for Performance Improvement can help you transform F&I from a brawl, to a painless, money-making experience.
Contact us today to find out how we can help you reach your goals.