When F&I Past Meets Future, Sparks Can Fly—For the Better

The melding of different generations, ideas, practices, and expectations in F&I can improve it

A well-loved and popular Hollywood genre is the “buddy cop” movie. Just about any buddy cop film starts out the same way: A seasoned detective who knows the beat reluctantly joins forces with a rookie with unbridled energy, fresh perspective, and the latest gadgets. The past and the future meet the present—and sparks fly.

Soon, the characters realize they each bring something vital to police work, human relations, and the tools of the trade to help them do their jobs better. They compromise to see the other’s perspective, and forge a team that gets the job done. Buddy cop plots work for audiences because they use a tried-and-true formula that resonates, and capture a universal reality.

The same holds true when F&I past meets future. The melding of different generations, ideas, practices, and expectations in F&I can make it better. F&I technology helps the new kids on the block and seasoned, proven team members excel by closing the gap between their perspectives.

The power of change

We often talk about the inevitability of change, especially in the world of technology. Undoubtedly, many people who are unable or unwilling to change feel the threat of marginalization. Regardless, the future of F&I is here, and your choice is to adapt and migrate to global functionality, or continue with piecemeal and painful transitions to serve tomorrow’s F&I customer, who will be immersed in digital everything.

In F&I, less-effective systems ignore “boots on the ground” experience, assuming that because their solutions work for the goose (non-automotive business contexts), they ought to work for the gander (the automotive industry). We know what happens when we assume.

Anyone can build a widget into an F&I system, but unless at the heart it is rooted in how the car business works, we’re back to the rookie and old pro working separate leads, rarely coming together to solve the problem. Technology for technology’s sake is simply an imposed solution that doesn’t understand the unique challenges faced, often misses the mark, complicates the process, and creates more problems.

The best F&I systems in the industry, however, are built by seasoned car guys who want to solve car-guy problems and collaborate with tech-savvy partners with new ideas to pioneer real solutions. These F&I tools integrate the latest technology with the hard reality of the car-buying experience.

Of all the technology options available, there are very few superior systems that truly coalesce ideas. Those that do create a flexible process that helps enhance the performances of both the rookie and veteran users in your F&I office.

Help rookies and old pros excel

F&I platforms built by seasoned car guys collaborating with younger partners yield F&I solutions that help rookies:

  • Work in a digital environment built upon best practices of experienced pros.
  • Flexibly switch in and out of workflows to create tailored, speedy transactions to meet customers’ expectations.
  • Lead customers down the right path toward both the dealership’s and customer’s goals, providing the flexibility to change direction should a different approach be required in the moment.

Similarly, this collaborative F&I platform enables your veterans to:

  • Ramp up their knowledge of technology without letting go of proven practices.
  • Continue to use long-standing sales methods (like a four-column menu) that are newly enhanced to be faster, interactive, and part of a larger presentation.
  • Blend their skill sets and enhanced technologies to meet the moment and close strong.

It is also critical to remember that customers on both sides of this paradigm shift need an approach tailored to them. The older generation wants the accountability and expertise of a personal experience, be it a face-to-face meeting or a voice on the phone. The younger generation wants to preview real-time data, use sophisticated tools, and deep dive to do research long before they talk to anyone in person. What both generations want is a comfort level to make a good decision they won’t regret.

The best F&I systems simultaneously respect and revolutionize for a better future. What does that future look like? It delivers the F&I experience your customers expect from you: digital, accessible, transparent, multisensory, and multichannel. These systems come from partners that collaborate with you to help you reach ultimate productivity, measurable success, and the best possible experience for your customers.

Change solves problems

We embrace change because change promises to address problems. Take, for instance, dealers who do not work from a menu when selling F&I. Is that “old pro” mentality smart? To find out, MaximTrak conducted a survey of 270 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealerships across approximately 1.5 million vehicle transactions, which showed that e-menu use verse no menu use resulted in:

  • A PVR increase of $538 per deal.
  • A VSC penetration increase of 52% per deal.
  • The shaving of 15 minutes time off each transaction.
  • A compliant presentation to every customer every time.

To go back to our buddy cop analogy, consider a poignant line from the recent James Bond movie, Skyfall, when the young Q meets the weathered 007. The scene plays out like this:

Q:“Age is no guarantee of efficiency.”

Bond: “And youth is no guarantee of innovation.”

In the midst of that tension is stellar technology that caters to both points of view.

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

Jim Maxim, Jr.


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