F&I products, selling techniques, and technological tools have all undergone a seismic shift in the last 30 years. Gone are the 4 squares, the stacks of blank contracts to be signed, and the churn & burn attitude of many F&I managers when it came to handling buyers. Get them in, stuff their payment, and on to the next one. Best practices often garnered the worst reputation at the dealership.
The modern approach to F&I and turning a healthy profit may now include slick menus and weeks spent honing sales skills at training school using the latest tips and tricks to increase PRU. But in the end, every F&I office will run efficiently if it sticks to some basic best practices. They are the simple things that make the most difference to the bottom line and to the buyers.
Here are 5 best practices that are as relevant now as they were years ago:
Belief in Your Products
There is an old saying in the sales world that you can’t sell what you don’t believe in. You can sell anyone a GAP policy or tire & wheel if you truly understand HOW it helps the buyer. If you don’t and just treat it like another way to bump up your paycheck, it will show. Buyers can sniff that out. Be an expert in all of your products and have stories ready to share with your buyer to make them believe they should consider buying it NOW, not later.
Work with Sales, Not Against Them
This should go without saying but tension between F&I and the sales staff is still a problem at many dealerships. Offer to help on the floor if a buyer is getting nervous about payment terms. Walk out to the salesperson’s desk and introduce yourself before you get the deal loaded. Ask sales to prep the buyer for products that will be presented in F&I. All of these small things can lead to big profit per deal and high CSI for sales and F&I. Buyers that see everyone working together are more likely to buy.
Preparation is Key
This is simple. Do not keep the buyer waiting too long. Be ready with the tools you need to present product and get the deal loaded quickly. Conduct your interview on the sales floor with a few key questions and let the buyer know exactly how long it will be before they come into the office. Set expectations upfront and the buyer should be more relaxed and appreciative that you did not waste their time.
PRU should be set at a consistent level as much as possible. I know, this is blasphemy to even write this but consider this…if your F&I office can find that sweet spot where you are making a solid PRU on every deal with a product price that doesn’t scare off every buyer, profits soar and F&I’s job just got much easier.
Yes, there is always a small level of flexibility but adding a consistent $1000 to every VSC (with variance for make/model of course) takes the pressure off throwing out a different number on every deal and hoping it sticks. Try set pricing and see if that results in higher volume and less aggravation.
Don’t Be Shady
Again, it’s sad that this has to be said these days but there are still F&I managers operating like it’s 1980 and hoping they make so much per deal that no one fires them. It’s a simple thing to just be ethical and comply with the new regulations in F&I. Are they a bit cumbersome? Sure, they can be. Dealers have auditors look at every deal, some stores have F&I on video, and staff have to go through vigorous training and certifications in some states.
Be honest. Don’t hide anything from your buyer. Answer their questions honestly. Set up the process in a professional way from start to finish. Treat your buyer the way you would want to be treated. F&I will make more, the buyer will be happy, and it will go a long way to dispelling the ‘shady F&I manager’ stereotype from years past.
F&I best practices are worth revisiting frequently at your dealership. There is nothing wrong with a ‘back to basics’ approach. With the industry changing so much, it’s often just a few easy fixes here and there that can bring profits back in balance.