Better Framing, Better Context Equals Higher F&I Sales


Paint the picture. That’s what nearly every self-professed sales guru says when training salespeople. Appeal to their emotions and get them to ‘see’ themselves using your product or service. Good advice…so how would that apply to the unique selling environment within an F&I office?

Framing is the popular psychological term meaning putting the decision into some kind of strategic context. You are painting the picture or giving a frame of reference when describing why they should buy your product.

For the F&I manager, it’s even more important to frame your sales presentation in a way that doesn’t come across negative or with intent to scare someone into buying product. There are a couple of simple ways to accomplish this that show respect for your customer and still open the door for the selling opportunities you need to strengthen the PRU.

A Positive Spin on Negative Events

Yes, this is possible. Most F&I managers are trained to offer an apocalyptic vision of the buyer stuck on the side of the road in a bad neighborhood while it’s raining with a transmission that only works in reverse. Don’t laugh…I used to paint THAT picture back in the day.

There is nothing wrong with making your buyer understand the negative consequence of not having mechanical breakdown coverage, but it can be done in a way that doesn’t seem obvious.
Given that same scenario with a couple with 2 small children buying their first minivan, it may be wiser to frame the sale in terms of the money and time saved by having that coverage in place. Explain the ease of having a rental car reimbursed so they are no without a vehicle during a major repair. Paint the picture of not having the worry of paying for the tow to get it to a repair shop nearby while on the family road trip and how that peace of mind will keep their trip from being ruined.

If you are in a position to offer GAP, framing the presentation is just as important. Instead of leading in with ‘If your car is totaled a few months into your loan, you’ll have to choose between rent and paying off the balance of the loan in case insurance doesn’t give you enough’…. try a more positive approach.

“Imagine how easy it will be on your financially not having to worry about paying the loan off in case the car gets totaled. Just come back here after your GAP coverage kicks in and we’ll get you in another car with no problem.’ See? Same potential negative scenario has now been reframed into a more positive light giving the buyer a feeling that GAP will be a good thing that will save them money and allow them to quickly replace their car in case the worst happens.

Knowledge is Power

Framing works best when it serves to help the customer properly assess their risk of NOT taking your product or service. Being able to do this well in F&I is easier when you have relevant statistics or other detailed information that can help illustrate the risk.

For instance, if you are trying to sell a maintenance package, approach it from the perspective of the average cost for scheduled maintenance at local shops vs. simply coming back to the dealership to have it done immediately and with no payment at the time of service. Your plan could help them save money and not have to wait as long compared to busy shops around town that may be booked up or having them backed up behind 5 other jobs. But having that info is critical to helping you provide that context.

Know how much major components cost to replace when talking about extended warranties. You can paint the picture of their out-of-pocket costs only if you sound confident in the figures you share. One thing I would do today if I were back in F&I would be to have actual service invoices ready to share (redacted, of course) so they could see the current labor charge and cost of replacement parts.

It would be framed as ‘I think it’s important for everyone to understand how expensive repairing a car can be. If I don’t share this with you, I do you a disservice especially if you have been lucky in the past having never had to take on repairs like this. Good information, nothing more.’ It gives context immediately without coming across as anything other than education and concern for the buyer. If that’s done well, they will be more receptive to considering the product or at least asking questions about it.

It’s easy to paint the picture in F&I…you just have to consider moving from a solely negative and fear-based approach and try something that yes, still shows a potential negative consequence but in the context of all the good that comes from adding your products. Always leave the buyer feeling like you are offering something of value, something that will make their lives better and you should find it an easier selling experience.