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Does a single consultant approach make sense in today’s dealership?

F&I has been stuck in a decades-old paradigm of being the last stop in the dealership before being able to drive off in their new car. And unfortunately, a step many customers would rather skip if they could. 

The many steps along the way that customers must endure to buy a car and the complaints that younger generations have about the time it takes to go through the sales process begs the question…is having one point of contact from start to finish a better way to deliver the sales experience?

More simply put, one salesperson or ‘sales consultant’ shepherds the customer from picking out the car on the lot and closing out the sale by putting the tags on and watching them drive off.

Could a Single Consultant Be the Future of F&I?

Most F&I managers would say this is not beneficial and that they are skilled in not only high-margin aftermarket sales but also skilled in the art of negotiating financing deals with banks and captives that they know and understand. It’s experience and knowledge salespeople don’t have.

And maybe the traditional way of splitting the duties among two professionals is best for your store.

But in today’s increasingly digital retailing environment and with buyers in the Millennial and Gen Z generations looking for a better and easier way to buy a car, perhaps a one-person car sales experience is an idea whose time has come.

And let’s face it…the old way of spending four to five hours at a dealership is not appealing to anyone of any generation.

3 Ways a Dealership Could Benefit from a Single Consultant Approach

Here are some of the key benefits of having a single consultant handle the entire process:

1. Shortens Time to Delivery: One less step or handoff to another department means the buyers get out to their shiny new car faster. Happy customers mean higher CSI scores, too. The process takes too long and has for decades.

Consultants can handle the price negotiation and shift immediately to financing options and presentation of aftermarket products…all in one place.

2. Better if You Offer Preloaded Ancillaries: If your dealership preloads appearance ancillaries as a Line 1 add, the upsells are easier for the consultant. They already have rapport with the customer and have been asking the questions necessary to present the exact products that make sense as an addition to what the store already offers as part of the price of the car.

3. Rapport-Building is Seamless: When you work with one person throughout a buying experience, it lends itself to a better sense of connection, and a better rapport.

Think about the last time you bought a house. You worked with one realtor from beginning to end. They help guide you through choosing a house, making an offer, negotiating the deal, and on through to the closing.

Having one consultant handle everything makes the connection stronger and there is a heightened level of trust. This one person is helping you with everything. Plus, it will be psychologically harder to say ‘No’.

None of this is to say that F&I is ‘going away’ anytime soon as many in the industry have predicted over the last few years. More online retailers are making waves in the market by having an entirely online experience. That is good for many shoppers but not all. Some still like the human connection involved in car buying.

And many would argue that while this strategy may be perfect for the smaller, independent dealer rather than a franchise store, it doesn’t mean that it’s not possible for a new car dealership to benefit from this streamlined approach to sales and F&I.

Anything that makes for a smoother and more efficient sales process is a win-win and worth exploring to see if it would work in your dealership.

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Kristine Cain
Kristine Cain
Kristine Cain is a contributing writer for CBT News. She has over 26 years of experience in the automotive industry specializing in F&I and B2B sales.

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