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Conducting customer interviews online to discuss F&I options

It’s time to face a new reality. Offsite deliveries aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. COVID-19 has forever changed the way car dealers do business, quite possibly forever if not for the foreseeable future. In growing numbers, more dealers performing offsite deliveries. If that’s you, holding your breath and waiting for things to get back to the way they were, it’s going to jeopardize your business. You will need to be more responsive engaging intuitive online to stay in the game. In this week’s episode of F&I Today, host and president of Chernek Consulting, Becky Chernek discusses the importance of conducting customer F&I interviews online. 

An offsite delivery doesn’t mean you have to engage in a tug of war. It’s been proven that customers will buy your products online when they’re presented with them. In fact, many auto buyers out there prefer it. They view online purchasing to be more credible than in-person transactions. This has something to do with their ability to see every step they’re taking and to remain in control of the transaction.

Remember, every deal counts, both online and offline. With recent improvements to technology, it’s easier than ever to get in front of your customer with webcam devices and easy to operate communications platforms. The customer doesn’t even have to download software to view your desktop! This makes it easy to engage with your customer both online and offline.  But what’s really important here is that you get out in front of these changes as they’re taking place. You have to have a sense of urgency.

Too many F&I managers wait until the customer gets into the F&I office to begin securing financing and going over the menu.  Many don’t even see the need to interview the customer beforehand. Well, every time we conduct the interview it makes a huge difference. With that in mind, doesn’t it makes sense to do everything in your power to communicate with the customer online, long before they come into the dealership with a check made out for the exact amount. This should always be a part of the process, with or without digital retailing.

Only now you have more options. You have the option of conducting the interview online, just as you would in the dealership. If you or the customer prefers, you can get them on the phone to talk more in-depth. Be open to alternatives. Be willing to do things you’ve never done, like sharing your desktop remotely or making other accommodations that will help the sale.

So if you’re sitting around and waiting for the customer to come into the dealership the way you’ve always done it, don’t be surprised if you’re the one who’s left behind.


Did you enjoy this episode of F&I Today with Becky Chernek? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic with host Jim Fitzpatrick at jfitzpatrick@cbtnews.com.

Car Biz Today, the official resource of the retail automotive industry.

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Becky Chernek
Becky Chernek
Rebecca Chernek, founded Chernek Consulting, LLC in 2001, has nearly three decades of experience in the automobile dealership industry. She started her career by working with her father at their family-owned auto dealerships in Have De Grace, Maryland. She gained hands-on skills and experience in almost every aspect of the automotive sales process: new used cars and trucks sales, F&I, Director of Finance for volume operations and general management. She was hired in 1986 as the first woman to sell cars for Al Packer Lincoln & Mercury in Baltimore, and in 1989, she was promoted to F&I Manager for Ron Bortnick Ford in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. In 1995, Rebecca took a position with the JM&A Group and was promoted to District Manager for the AutoNation division — the #1 retailer in the United States — to hire, train boost profits and implement menu selling. She single-handedly earned a sterling reputation for adding millions of dollars to the bottom line for all her accounts! Rebecca has a well-deserved reputation as a self-starter, high-performer, and spirited entrepreneur and motivator. It’s not a matter of what you think you know… it’s a matter of proving it! As a consultant, trainer and nationally recognized expert in F&I Training and sales procedures, Rebecca has helped hundreds of automotive car dealers throughout the United States and Canada streamline their processes and closing techniques and significantly increase profits. She writes regularly for Wards Business, CBT Automotive Network, Dealer Magazine, Subprime News and as a NCM 20 Group F&I Guest Expert. She facilitates for the NCM Institute, Desking and F&I Integration. Rebecca is the anchor for F&I Today – CBT Automotive Network headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Don’t forget to check out our interactive continuing F&I online education platform Chernek Consulting Virtual Pro the best kept secrets on how to be successful in F&I! Boost your F&I performance! Every dealer must have to help your F&I manager increase sales and profits while reducing liability.

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