The F&I business remains an important aspect of automotive retail in 2024, serving to boost profits and keep customers happy. However, given the tumultuous experiences of the last four years, it should surprise no one that many dealers are wondering if the old methods of F&I management work in today’s market.
On this episode of Inside Automotive, host Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Adam Marburger, president and CEO of Ascent Dealer Services. Marburger is a leading F&I coach with years of experience helping dealers maximize per-vehicle revenue and lead efficient, effective departments. Now, he shares his insights into the latest financing trends impacting the retail automotive business and what F&I strategies he recommends dealers implement in the coming months.
1. Marburger notes that financing discussions are still challenging to control, making it difficult to sell consumers F&I products, especially when they bring in a large down payment. To navigate these complications, he urges dealers to prioritize training and coaching.
2. Despite these obstacles, Marburger believes F&I will generate more money for the retail automotive sector in 2024 than in 2023. “We’re not going backward,” he remarks. He notes that many dealers are expecting to lower their margins but obtain more market share, allowing them to boost their earnings despite profitability pressures.
3. In 2023, auto loan terms rose steadily as consumers prioritized affordable payments over shorter arrangements. Marburger expects this trend to continue in the coming months as vehicle prices remain inflated over pre-pandemic norms.
4. Marburger notes that many F&I professionals are being hired out of college, making it one of the best entry points into the retail automotive sector. As long as their dealer or manager can provide quality training in financing and insurance, it is less necessary for candidates to first obtain experience in other departments, such as sales.
5. As they progress through 2024, Marburger urges dealers to prioritize training above all else. “This year, our mantra is all about coaching and mentorship,” he concludes.
"If we look at the future customers, what do they want? They want to buy things; they don't want to be sold things. They want to do things quick. Technology allows us to do things quick." — Adam Marburger