When families come to the dealership looking to buy their next van or SUV, it can be a tough balancing act for sales to manage. Kids running around the showroom, jumping in and out of cars…it can be challenging to say the least.
For those of us with kids of our own, we have been there, done that and understand that the marathon process of buying a car can tax the most patient of parents. Heck…as adults we hate the process…imagine how fast kids get bored with it.
For F&I, though, it can be especially difficult to make the office a ‘family friendly’ atmosphere while parents have to focus on all the required paperwork. Often a small office and not much for kids to do.
How can your F&I staff make it a better experience, one that lets the parents take a breath and be able to focus better on your product presentations and disclosures? What are some of the little things you can do to make kids and their parents more comfortable in your F&I office?
It’s easier than you may think. Let’s look at 3 simple ways your F&I office can be truly a family-friendly zone…
- Go Old School – For years as an F&I manager myself, I always had a box or drawer full of crayons, coloring books/pages and markers. When the other F&I managers laughed at me and said I was inviting trouble, I was holding higher PRU on those ‘family’ deals because the parents appreciated the extra effort I put into making their kids feel welcome in my office.
Having small Dollar Store toys as giveaways for good behavior works, too. One of my F&I Directors would give each child a chance to pick something from her ‘treasure chest’ if they were quiet and behaved for their parents. Worked like a charm, every time. Kids and parents eat that up.
It costs you little but returns a better experience for you when you are able to give a strong presentation because the kids have something to distract them. Higher CSI and better online reviews, too. Can’t put a dollar amount on that.
Also, consider keeping baby wipes and a handful of different sizes of diapers on hand. Stay with me here…if you have a parent coming in with an infant trying to handle a hundred things at once, he/she may appreciate that you are prepared in case they run out of the essentials. When I was buying my minivan (gasp!) after having my baby boy, I forgot wipes and the F&I manager had some in his desk. I never forgot that.
- Don’t Forget the Tech – What kid isn’t growing up with an iPad these days? They all have them and if you want to take a more modern approach to keeping the kiddos happy in your office, have an iPad loaded with all kid-friendly apps and games. Everything in their world is touchscreen anyway so why not have one they can sit and play with? If the parents don’t already have one when they walk in for them, offer yours. Put it in a heavy-duty case (think Lifeproof or OtterBox) and let them work on it. Many of my colleagues that are still ‘in the box’ always have one charged and ready for kids that come in. It’s easy and whether we like it or not, the screens mesmerize kids like little else in their world. Again, parents may breathe a sigh of relief if they forgot to bring theirs. The evil F&I manager they were expecting now becomes the hero and saves the day (and keeps them sane while they spend thousands with you!).
- Include the Kids in Your Presentation – When you get trained in F&I, whether at the store or a F&I ‘school’, you are taught to incorporate a buyer’s individual life circumstances in the pitch. If they are older, have kids, have a challenged credit situation, or may be a high mileage driver. So how do you make the kids the focal point of the presentation? Ask the parents if the kids are involved sports or other after school activities (extended warranty so they don’t get stuck on the side of the road coming back from a game) or if they carpool with other kids (paint & fabric!). It should be easy to get some basic insights into how your products can benefit the kids in an indirect way. Paint the picture from their perspective and the parents will likely be more receptive.
It’s easier than you may think to make the F&I experience at your dealership more family friendly. It’s the little things that can make a measurable difference in PRU and CSI but also in referrals.
After all, those happy parents you helped with a box full of toys know A LOT of other local parents and that makes for a steady stream of repeat business for your store. I know…I’ve been that parent.