Why technology won’t kill F&I

Thanks to online research and digital retailing tools, close to 80% of the shoppers who come to your dealership are prepared to buy — and, as a result, expect deals to get done faster. That’s great for car sales, but what about F&I product sales?

As more dealers get comfortable with the idea of incorporating a short-form, credit-enabled loan application in their VDPs, there’s still a good amount worry that F&I profits will decline without a face-to-face pitch. Many dealers feel like these products need to be sold, but reality is your customers want to do the research themselves.

Giving the shopper the opportunity to sift through their F&I product options online will provide a better sales experience. The result is your customer will be more receptive and more likely to buy them when they feel they discovered the value on their own. Then, your manager can reinforce the value and make sure the customer has selected the appropriate products when they get to the business office.

Recent studies produced the figures to back it up:
83% of car buyers preferred to learn about F&I products on their own before visiting the dealership
84% of consumers think F&I products offer real value
66% believe they will save them money in the long run

83% is a big number! Essentially, 8 out of 10 customers today would be receptive to learning more about (and potentially buying) F&I products.

Having informed customers is never a bad thing. I believe the hesitancy and reluctance witnessed in the business office when pitching protection products has more to do with the timing and experience and isn’t related to the products themselves.

Getting into a discussion about VSCs at the end of the sales process can be a buzzkill when your customer is not prepared. The result is the excitement around buying a new car begins to deteriorate.

So, what does this all add up to? It means the answer to the question of how to sell more F&I products is found earlier in the sales process.

Consumers today want a faster, more transparent transaction. By simply having your F&I product information posted on your website, you’re doing more than showing shoppers the value in the products you offer – you’re building an incredible purchase experience tailored for today’s car buyer.

Be open about what products you offer, the provider through which you offer them and the benefits they deliver. You’ll encounter fewer objections and – most importantly – sell more F&I products on every deal.

Customer satisfaction is highest within the first 90 minutes at the dealership. With continued online research, online deal-building and the desire to begin the financing process online as the new standard, this also means that after-market pitches need to come earlier in the process — and online. The good news is that car shoppers say they would actually buy more aftermarket (F&I) products if they learned about them earlier in the process.

Tips:
• Enable shoppers to sift through your F&I products
• Include short descriptions of the F&I products and bullet points on the benefits
• Limit the online options to your 3-4 best sellers
• Show the cost for the added protection in monthly payment terms

There’s a better way to sell F&I, and it starts with using technology to create a stronger personal connection with your customers.

Technology won’t kill F&I. It will create opportunities to add more value for shoppers, and more opportunities to improve your F&I profit per vehicle retailed.

Bill Gerhard
Author: Bill Gerhard

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