Transparency Equals Trust in the F&I Office
When people don’t know who or what to believe, it’s hard to make the right decisions
We live in skeptical times. Our country has just experienced a strange election cycle fueled by fake news, divisiveness, and misinformation. Many people formed their opinions based on what they believed to be trusted information, but it’s become increasingly hard to tell fact from fiction.
When people don’t know who or what to believe, it’s hard to make the right decisions. That uncertainty is a recipe for fear, anxiety, and hesitancy because people inherently want to feel in control of their future.
Understanding the relationship between stress, information, and control creates excellent opportunities for dealerships and F&I. Dealerships that provide process transparency and trustworthy tools within a streamlined transaction will win the business of skeptical customers.
The F&I manager’s job is to make the unknown ownership risks and available protection products known, then provide an easy way for customers to acquire them. The manager has a responsibility to present accurate and unbiased information.
The F&I department should work to help customers identify products that can provide a controllable and predictable ownership experience. Here are some tools and ways to build trust, and give your customers the control they need to make smart decisions.
Personality-driven tactics from a charismatic salesperson plus paper processes may leave consumers wondering if they got the whole story when making their purchase. An interactive e-menu helps customers better understand the value of protection products, which builds trust in them and your dealership.
Smart customer-facing applications help inform the conversation about the aftermarket products most relevant to their needs. Whether through a survey or interactive presentations, customer controls and decisioning tools help guide consumers toward products that have the most value for them.
Whether accessible to shoppers in the showroom or online, decisioning tools create an unbiased driver profile that empowers customers to make decisions they will not regret.
Some customers still prefer paper-based engagement, but many now favor an all-digital experience. Your F&I platform must be flexible to engage the traditional customer, but be ready in an instant to service others who will not settle for old-school ways of doing things.
E-menu use can shorten a consumer’s time in F&I by an average of 15 minutes, enormous savings for individuals eager to be done and on their way.
By law and for everyone’s protection, certain information must be given to any customer who begins a transaction with you.
And in cases where you just can’t meet customers’ needs, having an automated tool that triggers the distribution of adverse action letters or similar notifications helps ensure your dealership complies with disclosure requirements.
Building these disclosures into a digital workflow shows the customer you are conducting business aboveboard and professionally, which helps build trust.
Digital F&I systems remove one serious security risk by eliminating personal information–rich paper documents from public view, and by providing accessible storage to a digital format where it’s out of sight and out of mind.
This means eliminating or reducing paper-process risks, misplaced deal jackets, and other factors that can put private customer data at risk.
Digital menu systems keep F&I processes compliant with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act by protecting consumer data. Likewise, e-menu tools remain a foundational preventive measure for dealers.
By ensuring that every customer is presented every product, every time, and having those decisions automatically annotated by the system, a digital compliance tool will help ensure compliance, total fairness, and equality to each customer.
F&I menu systems using multichannel, multimedia e-rating, e-contracting, e-signature, and e-registration enable you to build a professional, complete, timely, and accurate presentation more thoroughly and more quickly—and meet today’s compliance laws.
Remember, today’s customers want transparency in their business transactions more than ever. F&I tools and processes that give buyers control, clarity, and choice help build their confidence and trust in your dealership.
As 2017 unfolds, there are sure to be surprises, increased risks, and disappointments in everyone’s life, include your dealership’s customers. Take measures now to ensure that whatever may come, they will be OK.
The blurred line between fake news and real news, or bias versus unbiased, is not likely to go away this year or anytime soon. In the world of F&I, however, we can employ practices that will protect F&I managers, the dealership, the integrity of the process, and customers—without sacrificing profit.
Jim Maxim, Jr. is president of MaximTrak Technologies, a provider of digital F&I platforms for dealers. He is an Agent Entrepreneur 40 Under 40 leader, an F&I visionary recognized by CIO Review magazine, a frequent panelist and speaker at various F&I conferences and summits, and a contributor to automotive retail media about evolving F&I technologies. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.