Proven Menu Selling Techniques

On today’s episode of F&I Today, Becky Chernek discusses how over-complicated menu selling can be detrimental to your success, and how being consistent and straight to the point is beneficial in F&I.


Welcome to F&I Today I’m your host Becky Chernek. I’m so happy you’re able to join us today.  I’ve been in the automotive industry for over 30 years and in finance insurance since 1989.  I founded Chernek Consulting in 2001 and provide current and up to date best practices in F&I training, offering workshops and in-dealership implementation for automotive dealers throughout North America. My goal is to help you to significantly boost profits utilizing innovative upfront sales strategies.  It’s a pleasure to be here with you.

No matter what dealership I visit, it seems everyone uses a variety of ways to present the menu. Some of these methods still bring great results, but not quite sure about the others.

Granted, I guess you can say I’m stuck on the way I’ve done my menu presentation for years since it has always brought incredible results not only for me but also the thousands of F&I managers I’ve trained over the years.

So today 21 years later, as a finance and insurance consultant since 2001, when I go into the stores and I observe some of the menu presentations I really have to bite my tongue. In fact, I cringe at some of them. I don’t get it. Why change something if it’s already been successfully proven. I agree, if you change you make it better. But just to change to be different doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

For example, some train reverse the menu presentation, starting from the last option and upsell to the first option. Some say that the customers see the last option, and that is all they concentrate on.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I respect that. In my opinion that is a step selling technique. Step selling creates resistance, and the chance to get into negotiation prematurely. Here is why I think that approach is step selling. When you are going from one option to the next you are asking the customer to add a higher payment that includes the additional product added to each option. Every time you go up the ladder, to the next option, it’s actually raising resistance in the customers mind.

Instead, I want to do the opposite. Offer the very best option first. As I present the other options, the payments go down as opposed to going up. The customer resistance goes down as I go down the ladder to present my options. I share with the customer the risk of giving up the product in each option I go over, which will remind the customer the product they will want to consider.

Once the customer chooses the option, you can then upsell the customer to the next product based on the customer needs. The product must be a selection that makes sense to the customer based on the information you garnered during the interview. Here I go again about the interview.

So, what about today you ask? It’s interesting to note, this method still continues to be executed in many of the AutoNation stores across the country. I don’t have to remind you that AutoNation is the #1 retailer in the United States, and I think the last time I looked their performance is somewhere around $1,600 per car. I’d say they have this down?

Some dealers may use an electronic digital menu, or Docu Pad and others still use a paper menu but the presentation is generally the same. Other consultants will train prior to the menu presentation that it’s best to go over the manufactures warranty in some detail. This alone can take up to five – seven minutes. I don’t necessarily believe it’s a bad idea to make sure the customer understands the coverage they get through the manufacture warranty but be careful how you go about this.

Keep the explanation down to three minutes or less if you can. Remember, this is the critical time period you want to make sure you keep the customers attention. We all believe we have these brilliant ideas that customers want to hear, but unless you have incredible high energy personality, it’s hard to keep a customer’s attention for long! The minute they zone out on you – you’re toast! I see this happen a lot!

The question you have to ask yourself, how long does it take you to get to the actual menu presentation? If it’s over five minutes, it won’t benefit you! Customers will glaze over the menu and everything else you have to say. It’s what we call white noise.

I bet for the most part you may have already experienced white noise and have zoned out on me a few times. I’ve only been talking for about five minutes. The benefit of video is you can play it back.

But in this case, you will never get another shot with the customer. You have to go all in and make the best impression you can! Also, take some free advice here – the customer must never feel you are about to pitch them. They will back off from you. Their resistance goes sky high. The pitch also can’t sound robotic! The customer should never feel any pressure, keep it simple! KISS it!

I make it a point to ease up on the very idea of pitching products. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve worked with digital menu, Docu Pad and paper menu. The truth is you’ll be profitable with menu selling as long as you understand the concept behind menu selling, which is to keep the customer engaged during the entire buying process, keep the resistance down, back up on the pressure, and give control to get control. It’s really that simple.

The more complicated you make the menu – the more bells and whistles you add – the less success you’ll have. A bazillion of products on the menu doesn’t cut it. The likelihood you present more than six or seven products every single time is slim! Get down to the core products you want to offer and offer them 100% of the time. Be consistent with your menu presentations, be matter of fact – present each product with a feature and benefit and study your word tracks inside and out. You’ll be amazed at the success you will have!

For those of you who are concerned about your performance in F&I, take the CBT Automotive Chernek Challenge! One complimentary (1) single store online analysis and find out how much opportunity you could be missing out on, feel free to contact me regarding my consulting services. My specialty is providing F&I Training, helping auto dealers achieve high levels of performance and profit by improving internal processes that begin the moment customer touches down on the dealership website and ends with finalizing in-person transactions in F&I. Thank you for joining me on F&I Today. Be sure to come back next week right here on the CBT Automotive Network for our next edition of F&I Today