January 2012, Auto Dealer Today - WebXclusive
Imagine your CSI is above your regional average, you capture finance opportunities and your F&I income is taking your profitability to the next level. If you would like to get your F&I team from good to great to awesome, there are five steps to turbo-charge your F&I process which will increase profitability, customer retention and satisfaction.
1. Create great first impressions. The customer interview serves three purposes in the F&I process. Number one, it provides an opportunity to create first positive impressions with your guests. Impressions serve as foundations for rapport and trust. Winning customers over by providing value is critical. What do your business managers do or say to add value? Are they simply selling, or are they consulting and connecting with your customers as professionals? Second, the initial interview resets the clock with a customer. The third and main purpose of the interview is to complete a needs analysis prior to the menu presentation. Once customer needs are established, product presentation has meaning.
2. Create a sense of urgency. The moment the customer said “yes” to the deal, the clock began ticking. Doing a prompt customer interview creates a sense of urgency in their mind, which ultimately leads to higher customer satisfaction and greater profitability. F&I managers who demonstrate urgency through their body language and verbal communication can automatically raise consumer confidence. A lethargic or uncaring approach can easily destroy the customer experience. Throughout the transaction, it is important to keep the experience factor in the minds of everyone involved, especially F&I. Customer loyalty and CSI are vastly dependant upon the customer’s perception of how promptly their transaction was completed.
3. Set accurate expectations. No one likes to be in the dark. Think about a time you tried to buy something and had to wait to get it; did you like the feeling of not knowing what would happen next? Most likely not. It’s no different for your clients. Setting accurate expectations is a must. Keep communications open through periodic updates. There is nothing worse than losing a car deal or an opportunity to make additional profit because of lack of communication. Setting expectations is everyone’s job. This is why it is critical for your entire team to be on the same page and continue communicating with each other. You do not want the sales department setting expectations F&I cannot meet. Once you establish the level of expectations with your customers, it is impossible to realign it without losing some credibility and CSI along the way. Failure to execute properly on a regular basis can cost you current and future sales.
4. Remember your roots. There is a tendency among F&I managers to quickly forget where they come from. When they were selling, it did not matter how the customer paid for the vehicle; they were simply happy to sell a car. Now, as an F&I Manager, to handle a cash or no-markup lease deal can be devastating. F&I managers lose interest, their energy level goes down and they can become extremely irritated. This type of fuss defeats everyone’s spirits and alienates salespeople and customers. The main reason for this tendency is that their jobs are measured by PVRs, and cash transactions can limit their home-run opportunities. In baseball, a pitcher’s effectiveness is measured by his ERA, earned run average. There is a different type of ERA in the F&I office—egos, rivalry and attitudes. By keeping egos, rivalry and attitudes in check, F&I managers will produce greater results and improve their PVR no matter what deal they work on.
5. Maintain consistency. The word “consistency” can be both good and bad news to a dealer. It is great when positive behavior and top results are consistent; it is bad when it is otherwise. In today’s competitive pricing war, consistent high-level F&I results will make a big difference on your DOC. Expect and demand nothing but a great and consistent performance from your F&I team. Do not buy their excuses and explanations of why results are inconsistent. Consistency is attainable and sustainable during any economy.
Now, think about your F&I team. How well do they conduct effective interviews, create a sense of urgency and exceed expectations, all the while keeping their egos, rivalry and attitudes in check? Are they consistently improving from month to month? Are they going from good to great to awesome and creating additional value for your loyal customers? If not, it is time to turbo-charge your F&I team!
Vol. 8, Issue 11