One of the most delicate balancing acts in the sales process is dealing with the amount of time it takes to actually deliver the car to the buyer. Dealership personnel often don’t realize how laborious this part is for the buyers, from coming to the store, choosing the car or truck, dealing with add-on’s, the time in F&I to execute paperwork, and more. Unless you have recently done this yourself as a buyer, you have no clue what it feels like.
In F&I, time is often not on your side, either. With deals stacked up on a busy Saturday, it can feel like the day is flying by but in reality, you could feel like you are not making what you really want on those deals. Deals are rushed, you are stressed, and the customers are frustrated – so much so that they take little if anything presented to them off the menu.
Is there a better way to manager the time expectation of the customers before they even come into the F&I office?
There is. Let’s take a closer look at some small but powerful strategies to help make sure the customers come in receptive and a little less stressed.
Let Sales Help
Work with the salespeople and have them understand the danger in promising to their customers that F&I will only take ‘a few minutes’ or it’s only ’30 minutes or so until you get to drive home’. That’s rarely true and everyone knows it.
During weekly sales meetings, ask to speak on this. Tell them the talk tracks you would like them to use to get the customers ready for proper time expectations the minute they sign off on the buyer’s order. If they are unsure what to tell the customers, have them simply call you to come out for a quick one- or two-minute introduction (which in theory you should be doing anyway) and explain to the customers that it may be an hour before you get them in and on their way. But having sales tee it up like that can be a bit easier to swallow.
Sales and F&I should always be looking to help each other during the delivery process, and this is a great place where teamwork can benefit everyone.
Digital retailing has been a growing channel within the dealership space since before COVID-19 but more so since. Consider a blog or article on the F&I page that walks the car shopper through the buying process from beginning to end with emphasis on how long parts of the process can take and why.
Few dealers offer this level of ‘education’ about the buying process and it leaves customers frustrated and angry that it takes so long to take delivery. If they know upfront, it can set proper expectation before they ever come to the lot.
Buyers spend time on your website before they ever make a move on your car and many may never have bought a car before at a dealership Why not give them that valuable information right from the start?
Give Worst Case
This may sound counter-intuitive but there is an argument to be made for telling the customer the worst-case scenario when quoting how low it will take to get through the F&I process with you. You’ve heard the expression “Under promise, over deliver”. That could work here, too.
If you know based on the number of deals pending that it will take at least 1 hour to get the Smiths through your office and in the car, don’t be afraid to tell them an hour or so. If you are able to get them in and out in 35-40 minutes, you go from ‘zero to hero’ in short order. They are happy to get out in less time and you made good on your promise. Win-win.
Ultimately, the best thing an F&I manager can do to help mitigate the biggest complaint most buyers have about the dealership experience is to help set those expectations as early as possible in the sales cycle and be the hero where you can with quicker service.
It’s always better to deal with disappointment early in the process than having the customer come in even more angry and dismissive of your presentation. Master that and you help save the sales process in F&I. Easier for them, easier for you.
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