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Why F&I Should Embrace Antimicrobial Protections and How to Leverage It

Antimicrobial treatments have been around for a while. Dealers are applying an interior protection, either wet or electrostatic, making the surfaces hostile to bacteria and viruses. It used to be a tough sell before this global pandemic. Customers just did not see the need and still others would assume it really did not work.

But now, in the midst of COVID-19 still not letting go of the country, this protection may have finally found a more permanent place at most dealerships. Dealerships have to be concerned about all their own high-touch surfaces within the store but there is just as much worry about porters or mechanics accidentally contaminating cars as well.

The question is, do you sell this in the F&I office or is there a case to be made for antimicrobial protection to be included as a preload?

Let’s see if its time has come and how.

Will Antimicrobials Last Beyond COVID-19?

Unfortunately, this virus isn’t giving us much indication that it’s going away anytime soon. States are seeing rising cases and hospitalizations, and it’s not looking too good right now.

Antimicrobials are being offered either as a complimentary service with a hangtag inside noting the details on the protection or as an F&I product usually bundled with other interior/exterior appearance protection. COVID-19 has made this a ‘front-and-center’ product and for good

There is still a good deal of ambiguity when it comes to the danger of surface contraction. Does it live on surfaces for a long time or short time? Does the type of surface matter (wood, metal, plastic, etc)? It seems like every day there is a new study or quote from government agencies that seem to confuse the issue more and more.

Given that this is (and forgive the use of the overused term, but it works) an unprecedented health crisis, antimicrobials may have found their place as a standard add.

Whether a dealer offers this free or for a nominal charge, it should be something marketed as a special level of protection that shows the local shoppers that their health and safety is a priority. This can also be the ‘why buy here’ value proposition for the dealer that wants to set themselves apart from the competition. It’s not an expensive product to apply and the labor cost should be minimal.

How Does This Benefit F&I?

F&I managers want as many opportunities to sell and make money as they can. Some feel the bigger the menu, the better. So, there is naturally an aversion to preloaded products as they are seen as something F&I cannot sell themselves. But what if there is another way to look at it?

If antimicrobial treatment is included as a Line 1 preloaded add, it can open up the conversation for the other appearance protection packages your store may offer. It’s an easy transition to talking about all the ways these more comprehensive packages can help give another level of protections beyond the obvious.

It also gives F&I the extra time to focus on higher-profit products like VSC, MPP, and GAP. Those have higher margins and have a clearer ROI for the buyer. If the dealership has the antimicrobial as a preload, it takes it off your plate and that could be a good thing given the limited amount of time your F&I department may have to sell, especially with online sales.

F&I manager should not look at antimicrobials with disdain. For those dealers who sell it, it’s such a small amount that it would not exactly line the pockets of F&I managers anyway. Let it be the conversation starter to bigger and better products. Let it be the protection that makes buyers all warm and fuzzy that the dealership cares about offering any extra protection they can so COVID-19 doesn’t get transmitted from one of their cars.

It’s all about leveraging it to open bigger doors to higher PRU. CSI will be stronger for it, too. Dealers that care get all the gravy.

Did you enjoy this article from Kristine Cain? Read other articles from her here.

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This has been a JBF Business Media production.

Kristine Cain
Kristine Cain
Kristine Cain is a contributing writer for CBT News. She has over 26 years of experience in the automotive industry specializing in F&I and B2B sales.

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