The Rise of the F&I Digital Handshake

Buyers younger than 40 are more likely to find a date on the digital hotspot Tinder than a brick-and-mortar nightclub, so you should expect them to want to engage with your F&I processes in a new, modern way also.

Welcome to the world of the digital handshake.

The rise of the digital handshake means the old-school way of presenting F&I aftermarket products is passe. Millennial-aged consumers don’t trust them, and aren’t as likely to buy when F&I processes fail to meet their digital expectations. Likewise, buyers will use social media and their smart phones to cross-compare with multiple sources to make sure the information they receive from you is reliable.

It is a given that this revolution is rapidly reshaping how dealerships engage consumers. So what new ideas and practices should you incorporate to be sure that your F&I process begins and closes the final step of the sale using this all-important digital handshake?

Results of a survey released by MTV at the 2015 NADA Convention reveal that millennial buyers:

  • Get “really annoyed” when things don’t happen quickly.
  • Want more transparent transaction processes.
  • Want more clarity into how products are priced.
  • Want speed in everything.

The MTV study also dispels the belief that these potential buyers aren’t interested in driving or buying vehicles. To the contrary, they claim to drive more miles than any previous generation, “they couldn’t live without their current car,” and they value both their cars and phones for similar reasons of accomplishing tasks, freedom, exploring different places, and learning new things.

Catering to this generation’s ways of wanting to do business is a business necessity no dealer can ignore. Pew Research said the millennial generation, at 75.3 million consumers, surpassed the number of boomer-generation buyers this year. But even boomers embrace digital, according to a Thrive Analytics survey: 81% percent of boomers ages 44 to 54 and 69% ages 55 and older use mobile devices to shop.

The following are the F&I tools you’ll find essential for delivering not only a more streamlined presentation to boomers, but the one that millennials expect :

  1. E-menus: Whether on digital presentation pads, tablets, or even smart phones, interactive menus foster product choice and millennial trust.
  2. F&I web tools: Put F&I where digital consumers begin shopping: online.Discuss with your F&I providers their ability to offer technologies that let you put more of the F&I process online: everything from credit applications, aftermarket products presentation, and e-menu selection to lender and rate/terms choices.
  3. E-contracting: Contract deals digitally. A paperless process is what millennials expect.
  4. E-claims: Don’t ask millennial buyers to fill out or file paperwork. Be sure F&I providers provide e-claims administration. Consumers are used to digital claims with other merchants they frequent, and have little tolerance for steps that require multiple and redundant data entry. Paperless processes of all types help the dealer deliver a more convenient experience.

Even when everything’s digital, you’ll certainly continue to greet and thank buyers with a human handshake. But engage them digitally to earn their trust, respect, and business.

Jim Maxim, Jr. is President of MaximTrak Technologies, Reach him at

Jim Maxim, Jr.


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