Partnering with the right F&I vendor is critical to driving sales and increased profits in your dealership. On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Bob DiGiacomo, vice president of operations at United Dealers Alliance, a finance product and income development company serving automotive, RV and power-sport dealerships, to discuss the power of his company’s lifetime warranty policies and the tools needed to drive results in the F&I department.
Lifetime warranties present significant advantages for dealers in terms of customer retention and F&I revenue. What makes United Dealers Alliance so special is that stores that sign up for their services become the sole provider for their area. DiGiacomo notes that this sets up a perfect “why buy here” reason for dealerships since no other competitor’s F&I department in their region is allowed to carry the same policy.
The warranty provides engine, transmission and drive train coverage for the lifetime of the vehicle, although the customer is responsible for maintenance. This covers both new and used cars, although some restrictions apply for preowned products. United Dealers Alliance is active in all 50 states, but DiGiacomo cautions that the company is selective with the F&I departments they work with. The reason for this, he explains, is to ensure that the service will actually benefit their clients. “We come in, and we do an analysis to make sure that everything works,” he comments. “It has to be a successful program for the dealer for us to even engage.” Provided this preliminary examination goes smoothly, most businesses should see the program running in just six weeks.
Once partnered with United Dealers Alliance, retailers can reap the benefits of having a quality warranty program available at their stores. DiGiacomo notes that the advantages extend far beyond better F&I performance. For example, customers who purchase the policy are encouraged to return to the dealer they bought the vehicle from. Clients looking to take their car in for required maintenance must obtain preauthorization to visit a business outside of their region. To do so, they must call the helpline provided by United Dealers Alliance, whose representatives will seek to ascertain why they are unable or unwilling to return to the dealer they bought the car from and attempt to resolve any issues. This process ultimately translates into higher fixed operations revenue. “We’re able to drive retention to the service department,” he states.
United Dealers Alliance can also assist dealers with F&I training. DiGiacomo notes that the financing process has changed significantly in recent years, as have the clients, making it essential for teams to stay updated on the latest trends. “If you believe for one second that you’re selling every customer you’re speaking to…it’s a way of the past,” he remarks. “We believe that there are enough reasons that you can make points, transparently, using nothing but facts, and explain it by way of transparent exchange of information…” DiGiacomo’s team teaches the value of letting the buyer reach their own conclusions and urges F&I representatives to simply focus on the factual aspects of their products rather than trying to break down their client’s barriers. This change in practice not only drives better PVR but also boosts CSI scores, retention and referrals in the financing department. “It works because customers appreciate information,” he explains. “They don’t appreciate being told what your brother-in-law does or what you do…It’s harder to sell than it is to just tell.”
Bob DiGiacomo is the executive VP of operations at UDA (United Dealers Alliance). UDA provides finance products and programs to dealerships throughout the country and specializes in managing customized exclusive dealer programs, provided by the best administrators in the industry focusing on long term dealer wealth. Beyond a full catalog of F&I products and programs, Bob and his team are experts in retail performance from each department within the dealership. With over 30 years in retail finance experience and his “Tell Don’t Sell” presentation techniques, Bob enjoys the highest praise from his dealer partners. Adding to the vast resources of his team, UDA encapsulates the perfect dealership operation health monitoring system in the business. From the largest measurable a store encounters daily, to the smallest issues which are equally as important, but often overlooked. UDA partnered dealerships are equipped with the most comprehensive operation knowledge management tool in the industry. To learn more about UDA and to connect with Bob and his team, visit www.uniteddealersalliance.com