4 Ways to Save Time in the F&I Process Using Automation
Do you really want customers spending two-thirds of their time waiting for you?
Time to fess up. Who’s been asked for a close family member’s, friend’s, or even your own phone number and not known it because you entered the data in your phone once, and now it’s just saved to your favorites?
I’d be willing to bet a large number, if not all, of us have been guilty of this at one time or another. Technology is helping us to not have to think, and for the better. We rely on our technology to be there when we need it, and connect us to all the vital pieces of our daily lives.
Apply that same thought to your F&I process. Think about all the critical checkpoints and tasks that need to happen on each deal. Many of these vital tactics throughout the life cycle of a deal can be automated to help your dealership save time, better manage compliance, create consistency, and, most importantly, provide a better experience for your customers.
Is the focus of your F&I department task-oriented or focused on the customer? Research done by the Rikess Group found that 70% of all auto sales take at least three hours to complete, not including delivery. At best, customers are engaged (actively moving the process forward) for just over an hour. The research also revealed that F&I backup has nothing to do with the sales process, but is because of expensive F&I producers that conduct low-cost clerical activities.
Given these findings, it’s wise to evaluate the preferences in your systems that can save time. Here are a few to consider:
- VIP list. If you regularly work with a set of finance sources, your credit application system can preselect these preferred finance sources, which will receive your apps based on specific transaction and vehicle types (new/used retail/lease/payment call/balloon).
Once you have these preferences set up, your preferred finance sources will receive a copy of all submitted credit applications that meet the criteria you selected. You can choose to have multiple finance sources preselected that meet different criteria.
- Have a backup. In the instance that a decision is declined or conditioned, you can also set post-decision rules in your credit application, which will automatically resubmit declined or conditioned applications to additional finances based on predetermined preferences. Credit bureau scores can also be set to influence the decision.
- Ready when you are. Get real-time vehicle payoff amounts, 24/7/365, from a customer’s account. Pull payoff quotes from inside your credit application system, and have data automatically prepopulate the credit app for greater accuracy at the time of deal consummation. The best part is that you no longer have to spend time with phone calls to the bank’s service desk.
- Consistent compliance. Managing compliance can be a challenge in any dealership. You can better manage your responsibilities by setting rules and automating the process. This not only saves time, but, most importantly, creates consistency in your compliance process. Credit bureaus and identity verification can be set to auto-run on every deal.
Also, you can auto-generate Credit Score Disclosure notices and have Adverse Action notices automatically mailed for you based on criteria you choose that best suits your dealership’s compliance strategies. This helps ensure that all employees are consistently following your compliance requirements.
Rethink what tasks you choose to spend your time on. If you spend an hour a day working on administrative tasks that could be automated, that’s an hour you’re not spending focusing on your customers. Setting rules and preferences to automate tedious tasks not only makes them easier and creates consistency, but with automation, you can create more personalized interactions with your customers and focus on more worthwhile tasks, like your menu presentation.
Let’s go back to the earlier stat that the average deal takes three hours to complete, yet only one hour of that time is customer-engaged. Do you really want your customers to spend two-thirds of their time waiting for you, or would you rather be engaged with them, developing a relationship and positive experience?
Brad Rogers is the chief operating officer of RouteOne LLC, a joint venture between Ally Financial, Ford Motor Credit Company, TD Auto Finance, and Toyota Financial Services. He is responsible for managing all sales, business development, and support services for the company.