With so many people involved in every car deal, there are several ways that things can go sideways. Between sales, F&I, delivery, etc…breakdowns can occur at any stage in the process.
How those mistakes are handled, especially in F&I, can impact your dealerships reputation and how customers view the experience of buying a car from you.
Most Common Issues
It’s important for F&I managers to understand that the faster they recognize an error and take responsibility, the easier it is to move on from it.
Here are two of the most common F&I mistakes that can happen at any dealership whether with a veteran or a rookie F&I manager and suggestions to help reduce errors and/or bad judgment –
- Errors in the Deal – Everyone knows how busy a Saturday is. A signature on a contract, an initial on a mileage disclosure, copy of a driver’s license. It’s happened to literally everyone who’s ever worked a busy weekend with multiple deals piled up.
F&I managers are subject to most compliance-driven rules and procedures when it comes to paperwork and in the rush of a busy sales day, little things can be missed. The problem becomes huge when it is discovered after the customer has left with the car and when the funding window is starting to close.
The Solution – Some dealers have a second set of eyes looking at every deal before the customer leaves the lot. An F&I Director or other manager can quickly look at all paperwork to be sure nothing has been missed.
Never make this a punitive process. Bring the mistake to the F&I manager’s attention in a discreet way and have them try to catch the customer before they leave if possible. Encourage them to own their mistake with the customer and apologize for not catching it.
- Customer Seeing/Hearing Bad Behavior – It’s a nightmare when a customer overhears a nasty comment about themselves from staff and though everyone wants to believe that would never happen at their store, everyone knows it does. The hope is no one hears it or sees it.
Making a rude comment about a buyer with bad credit, being angry about a cash deal, or insulting a customer who pushes back on a product presentation…all scenarios where an F&I manager must see the issue with their behavior and if caught by the customer, be willing to immediately apologize and ask for forgiveness without excuses.
An argument can be made that the world we live in now is more acutely aware of poor behavior in the consumer landscape. Better to recognize it now and make it a teachable moment rather than play defense later and risk your dealerships’ reputation in the community.
The Solution – If a customer lets management know that they heard something, don’t wait to address it with the staff member. Discreetly bring it to their attention and then have them apologize immediately, promising to do better and hoping it doesn’t reflect badly on the dealership.
It’s the same thing we teach our kids…own the mistake, don’t make excuses, and never include the word ‘but’ in the apology or it will ring hollow to the customer.
Dealership personnel, especially F&I staff, are there to help customers drive off in the car of their dreams (or close anyway) and to make the process as easy and enjoyable as possible. Addressing F&I mistakes quickly and using those situations to help make staff better will always pay dividends.