The challenges F&I departments face while adjusting to a virtual world

F&I departments

F&I departments are facing a unique set of challenges in today’s marketplace. On today’s show, we’re pleased to welcome Thomas Hackett, National Sales and Training Director for Allstate Dealer Services to discuss trends in F&I and some of the challenges car dealerships are faced with.

Hackett starts off the conversation by discussing F&I’s role in the digital environment. He says you must first define what ‘digital’ means because the definition is constantly changing. In today’s industry, it’s allowing customers to do as much or as little in the car buying process online. F&I remains a vital component in car dealership profitability, customer protection, and federal compliances. It’s important to introduce F&I early in the process.

Hackett also says, additional training is needed and not just for F&I. Car dealers need new sales techniques to adjust to the new digital environment. Hackett goes on to say that dealers need to learn how to be effective presenters in a virtual environment. It could be as simple as learning online communication tools such as Facetime, Facebook messenger, and Google software. It doesn’t stop with F&I. He says the auto industry is usually a latecomer to technology but the new buying generation is in front of screens. It’s time for car dealers to meet them where they’re at, even if they are scared.

Hackett says, one of the key solutions for F&I, is to offer strategies where the F&I provider can update the necessary product information without having to get others involved. F&I providers should be building partnerships with online auto retailers’ solutions to ensure their systems have the latest marketing information.

Hackett believes no one is trying to eliminate the F&I position but people are trying to make it more seamless for the consumer. Having a digital retail platform will help that. Getting that right person, training them correctly, will allow car dealers’ numbers to go up and see continuous improvement.

Ten years from now, Hackett believes the industry will continue to grow and adapt to technology. He doesn’t believe it’s going to be 50% to 60%, but will be higher than what it is today. The pandemic forced dealers to adapt to change.

Hackett wraps up the conversation by stating that the traditional way of selling is less effective and car dealers need to be trained accordingly to operate and facilitate transactions through easy-to-use digital tools they have mastered.

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