Boost Aftermarket Product Sales and Efficiency in Three Easy Steps

December 2008, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive

by Mark O'Neil - Also by this author

Aftermarket products are an essential profit center for your dealership, but during an economic slump, boosting these sales is crucial. Although you may be seeing fewer buyers in your showroom, you can compensate for less volume by ensuring your F&I department is maximizing every deal. If you’re ready to start increasing your aftermarket product sales while simplifying and streamlining your sales and contract submission process, the following three easy steps can help.

Step 1: Accurately quote your aftermarket products.
This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you don’t have a system in place to ensure correct rate quotes, your team is working inefficiently and costing you money. This is especially important if you are trying to keep track of a full suite of aftermarket products offered by multiple vendors. Selling aftermarket products can create a landmine of mistakes and problems due to incorrectly rating or misquoting a product. Errors stem from rates being copied from out-of-date manuals and from transactions that don’t meet the eligibility parameters for a given product. These kinds of problems leave your team scrambling, wasting precious time and resources trying to correct errors and absorb charge-backs.  
Lone Star Chrysler Jeep in San Antonio, Texas, faced similar problems when selling extended warranties. “Our F&I staff would manually look up warranty information and cost for each vehicle and enter that information onto a paper application,” said controller Diane Donoghue. “At the end of the month, we would bundle up all the applications, along with a check to our warranty provider, and mail them off. In a week, we would receive a report of all the cost discrepancies, creating more work for our billing clerks. Our F&I guys would also take a hit for every error.” The good news for you and dealerships like Lone Star is that there are software solutions available that can connect you in real time with your preferred product vendors, giving you always-accurate pricing and eligibility decisions.

Using these products, your team can stop searching for pricing and worrying about errors, and spend more time selling instead. When Lone Star Chrysler Jeep implemented this type of solution, the results were immediate. “Our system guarantees the cost, so what you bill for a warranty is your cost, period,” said Donoghue. “This is a huge benefit for our F&I guys, billing clerks and for the dealership as a whole.”

Step 2: Present your products in a clear, compliant manner.
Your next step is to present all your aftermarket product options to your customers in a clear and compliant manner. While you can use a paper menu, more dealerships are turning to electronic menus that illustrate products and their benefits in an easy-to-navigate presentation. Wollert GMC in Montrose, Colo., immediately realized the benefits of using an electronic menu. “We sell more products because they are all laid out in front of the customer,” said finance director Jazz Janda. “We can easily lead customers through the menu and it gets them to lean in and really comprehend what we have to offer.”

Along with increasing aftermarket product penetration, an electronic menu can help keep your dealership in compliance and minimize litigation risk. When your team uses it consistently and correctly, it can help ensure you’re offering every product to every customer, every time. It is a documented audit trail of full customer disclosure, and because it can be printed as needed, documentation is neat and professional.

Many systems also include a non-editable electronic date and time stamp on each menu so you have an accurate record of customer intent. An electronic menu can transform your F&I department into a well-oiled, highly profitable and compliant machine, as Janda noted: “Our electronic menu saves us time, keeps us compliant, and it allows us to show every customer all that we have to offer, every time. It’s one tool with multiple, invaluable benefits for our dealership.”

Step 3: Easily and efficiently submit product contracts.
Once your customers make their decisions, you must have an easy and efficient process for submitting product contracts to your providers. While many dealers still complete paper contracts and mail them to their providers, there are others who prefer to submit electronic contracts. While eradicating mailing costs, submitting contracts electronically also ensures that aftermarket product coverage begins immediately, a big benefit for customers.

Lone Star Chrysler Jeep’s software system allows them to electronically submit contracts to their extended warranty provider, significantly increasing their efficiency. “Our F&I employees enter a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into the system and it quickly gives them the right coverage and the right price for that particular vehicle,” said Donoghue. “Because we can enter the warranty information and then electronically send our applications, our inefficient process is now fast and streamlined.”

Aftermarket products can be your go-to source for increasing profits in the midst of a slowing economy. Take the time to research systems that can connect you with your aftermarket providers in real time, so you always have accurate pricing and eligibility requirements, greater product penetration and compliance, and efficient contract-submission processes, like electronic submission. These three easy steps can lead to increased profitability and efficiency in your F&I department.

Vol 5, Issue 4

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