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How a Softer Approach with Millennial Buyers is Best

If there was any age group in America that gets a bad ‘rap’, it’s Millennials. It seems like everyone has an opinion about the 20-35 year-olds and unfortunately much of it is negative. Lazy, unmotivated, and still living at home with Mom & Dad are all patently unfair stereotypes of a demographic that is numbering close to 60-80 million strong in the US.

Couple that number with the fact that 63% of car buyers are in this age range and every dealer will be forced to rethink not only how they sell cars, but also how they make a profitable connection with this buyer in F&I as well.

There has been much written about how Millennials like to shop for their car but not a deep enough look at the effect of ‘soft skills’ an F&I manager can use to help make the experience better for the customer and still maintain a solid PRU.

Here are 4 tips to help your F&I department ‘wow’ Millennial buyers…

1) Go Easy on the Digital Tools – Yes, most dealerships have digital tools at their disposal to menu-sell and present aftermarket products and yes, Millennials have grown up with this technology. However, don’t assume they will just look at the screen and understand the actual need for some of those products. These buyers still need to be educated and it’s important to paint the picture of how these products can help protect their new purchase.

2) Educate, Don’t ‘Sell’ – A survey of Millennials buyers found that 25% found the F&I process the most negative part of the car buying experience. They have probably heard from their parents how sleazy the F&I managers are and how they try to rip you off. You cannot approach these buyers with the pushy, slick sales tactics of yesterday.

They want a collaborative approach, one that educates them instead of scaring them into buying product. Answer their questions openly and honestly because remember – this generation researches EVERYTHING online. There are no more ‘smoke & mirrors’ tricks that will get by these buyers. A consultative approach with relatable stories and good interview questions will give you all the profit you need.

3) Be Authentic – Millennials have grown up making social connections online. They tweet, they ‘like’, they post, they Pin. But it doesn’t mean that they DON’T want to make face-to-face connections as well. Be casual, be fun to talk to. Don’t just present yourself as the next person trying to take their money. You are there to help them make the best decision, not sell.

When interviewing, ask questions that will target their unique lifestyle (young family with kids? No kids? Dogs? Spend your weekends hiking or camping?). Your Millennials buyer will live a much different lifestyle than Gen X-ers or Baby Boomers and if you can focus on that, you can zero in on exactly what products they really need. They will appreciate the time you take to get to know them.

4) Don’t Waste their Time – Though it’s a common complaint among all car buyers, wasting too much time getting to and out of the F&I office should be eliminated. Millennial buyers are used to getting their information instantly with a tap or click. Streamline the process before they come into the F&I office. Make it easy and quick to go through financing options, menus for product, and execution of paperwork.

A new generation of buyer requires a new approach. Be creative, be flexible, be yourself, and do the little things that will keep CSI and profits high.

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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