WardsAuto’s Steve Finlay on Today’s F&I Process

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In recent years, new technology has been re-defining the F&I office. How are you adapting to these changes in your dealership? In today’s segment, Jim Fitzpatrick is joined by Steve Finlay, editor at Ward’s Magazine to discuss alternative insurance selling techniques and letting car buyers take the F&I experience into their own hands at your dealership.

We asked Steve to tell us about his recent article in Wards Auto and how technology is a part of this shift in the F&I department? Steve’s article focuses on the Straub Auto Group and their switch over to a new system where they use ipads for real-time communication. While the customer is meeting with the salesperson, an F&I manager hands the customer an ipad which has a list of products and videos and also has them take a survey of qualification questions like, how many miles they drive, or if they have ever had any mechanical malfunctions.

Once the dealership receives that customer input electronically, then the F&I manager can tailor the presentation for the customer before the customer sets foot into the F&I office. Typically, F&I is the biggest pain point for a car buyer, and attention like this alleviates some of that stress for the consumer. The Straub group ultimately has the customer ending up in the F&I office to look through the menu options. The key is getting that information into the customer’s hands early.

The gross profit from the F&I department is so vitally important as we see front-end compression taking place. There are very few people that want to do the entire process online. They may ping-pong back and forth between online and offline, so it’s not a linear process at all. Most of the time, the consumer has already chosen the dealership they want to patronize online. The only thing the dealership needs to worry about is the overall customer experience.

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