car loan

An extended in-dealership visit continues to be a pain point for car shoppers with the finance and insurance process often dominating the clock. One customer recounted their recent experience buying a vehicle from a prominent Ford dealership with CBT News – a dealership experience that was generally positive but still far from perfect.

Of their four hours spent in the car dealership, nearly two and a half hours were sitting with an F&I manager, according to the new F-150 truck buyer. The shopper arrived at the dealership having already decided the model and features. The first 90 minutes was one visit with a product demo, test drive, and price discussion before the customer left, not ready to make an on-the-spot decision. 

The buyer pulled the trigger over the phone two days later, then he completed a credit application by phone which was approved within 10 minutes. Delivery was scheduled for the next day. 

The F&I visit and delivery lasted from 4:30pm to 7pm, an hour after the dealership closed. He tells how the process was slow-moving, often waiting on either documents to print or enduring small talk with the F&I manager who was “obviously trying to build rapport to sell me stuff”. In the end, just rim and tire warranty was purchased along with the Ford Credit financing agreement. 

While this customer’s experience was overall positive, “blessed by a fantastic salesperson who treated me like a human being”, the F&I office left something to be desired. A process he expected to last under 60 minutes stretched on to 150 minutes.  

What could be done to improve the experience? 

When asked about opportunities for improvement, this truck buyer recommended that dealers either provide an accurate time frame to expect in the F&I office or adapt the experience to better respect the customer’s time. His recommendation: “I don’t see why I had to sit in the office for so long, growing more impatient by the minute. Why not do the F&I presentation virtually? My decisions would’ve been the same, and we could’ve disconnected while they prepared the paperwork.”

Although an anecdotal example, this customer’s experience reflects the trends. The 2019 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey Study indicates that 58% of car buyers are unhappy with the time it takes to go through the process, and 29% state “filling out paperwork/contracts for purchasing/leasing a vehicle” as their top frustration with the purchase process.

Dealers can take a couple of simple steps to boost satisfaction with the sales process. 

Be clear about time expectations 

Like this customer explained, their assumption was out of line with this dealership’s reality. By simply letting the customer know in advance how much time they should plan to be at the dealership, they can make the necessary arrangements and mentally prepare for it. 

Give the customer the power to make their own decisions 

Car shoppers are more informed than ever. The products an F&I manager will present often seem like an upsell, but there’s potential for increased penetration when the customer is given the time to make their own assertions. By sending a list of products, services, and their benefits ahead of the time in the F&I office, a customer might actually convince themselves to buy more from F&I, not less.

Did you enjoy this article from Jason Unrau? Read other articles from him here.

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