Deception Destroys: Play It Loose in F&I and Everybody Loses

Play it loose in F&I and everybody loses

Most people, fortunately, believe that it’s wrong to lie. Let me ask: Do you trust people who lie to you or who you know lie to others? Probably not.

Deceptive advertising, which the Federal Trade Commission regulates and monitors closely, has mostly removed this form of lying from the car business. Outright deception, however, is not the only sort of “misstatement” that can damage a dealership’s reputation.

Some forms of deceit may not even cause a blip on our personal-ethics radar. What if we omit details about a product add-on a customer is considering—is that dishonesty? Or, as David N. Robertson, founder of the Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals, has noted, using the word “best” to describe a finance rate could be, depending on what the definition of best is, deceptive.

Consumers are very touchy about these sorts of things. In fact, Deception is the “D” in the five clues in the R.I.D.I.L. of customer dissatisfaction. My December 2014 column introduced the first of these clues, Rudeness. Last month, I focused on the second clue, Incompetence, the inability to do something successfully due to the lack of skill or proficiency.

Big deception like false advertising isn’t what causes most customers to quit a negotiation or walk from a dealership. They leave for more subtle tones of dishonesty—picking up the same clues you do when someone is fudging facts or being misleading. This is a type of dishonesty we can too easily fall into, the kind we can fail to catch ourselves engaging in because, frankly, we have done it for so long it does not register in our consciousness anymore. For example, has anyone ever caught you:

  • Failing to do what is promised?
  • Offering add-on options that offer little to no value or benefit to the customer?
  • Blaming others or covering up?

Fortunately, most F&I managers are hardworking, ethical, and honest. Still, technology that automates F&I processes and practices can add an extra layer of integrity to F&I because it:

  • Ensures complete and thorough F&I presentations every time to every customer.
  • Enhances transparency by clarifying the options being presented to the customer and how their selection(s) will influence consumer payments.
  • Enables practitioners to produce a more professional and compliant F&I presentation.

Finally, F&I technology like e-menu platforms can also remind us of commotion tasks (and other promises, if even to yourself), help catch mistakes, and ensure compliance to set processes. This technology can also document the process to help protect the dealer should a consumer ever complain unjustly.

Next month, the second “I” in R.I.D.I.L.: Inflexibility.

Jim Maxim, Jr. is President of MaximTrak Technologies, www.maximtrak.com. Reach him at maxim@maximtrak.com.

Jim Maxim, Jr.

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