There may be reasons why a dealership doesn’t insist that its F&I department use a menu for presenting F&I products, but they are not supported by indisputable, real-world data, which offers overwhelming evidence of the advantages of e-menu presentations.
The following are three costs a dealership incurs when it continues to present its F&I products without a menu that may not be immediately obvious:
- Customer satisfaction. Old-school presentation models take too much time, and lack the transparency that today’s consumers demand. They immediately slow down a transaction process for no perceivable reason other than the dealership’s choice to be behind the times.
- Reputation and trust. Any time F&I products are presented and prices quoted verbally, that lack of structure and accountability opens up the dealership to a bounty of potential risks. F&I compliance is so critical today that no manager (or dealer) should conduct business where compliance to F&I practices and laws isn’t practiced and cannot be verified.
- Lost sales. Staff is at a disadvantage when it is not presenting rate or aftermarket products from a structured and transparent menu. Customers can feel like they are being taken for a ride, but not the ride they came in for.
The evidence of the benefits that come from structured menu use with every customer and deal is so compelling that the burden to not change is really with the dealer or F&I manager. And with the tools becoming so intuitive, easy to use, and comprehensive, there is no better time to make that change. You will be glad you did.
An e-menu, one of the earliest forms of immersion technology used in F&I to engage more of the buyer’s senses, remains a powerful profit generator. Given its obvious advantages, it remains baffling why many dealers in today’s highly litigious and digitally driven commerce continue to operate like they did in the 1990s.
To gain hard data on menu versus non-menu use, MaximTrak conducted a study with 26 Chrysler Group dealers in 2012. Across the board, these dealers showed solid—and strong—lifts in key performance metrics.
Those dealers who used our digital e-menu platform increased per vehicle retail (PVR), on average, by 27% and product penetration (service contracts) by 33%. Download that full report here.
To verify these results, MaximTrak conducted this study again in 2015, this time with 270 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealers, including many who participated in the original study. The results again were eye-opening:
- Increased F&I profits of $302 per car overall since the first test in 2012, from $691 to $993 per unit
- Menu deals were $538 per car higher—58% above non-menu deals
- Product PVR was up $219, with $79 in higher reserve PVR than non-menu deals
- A 20% lift in vehicle service contract (VSC) penetration over 2012, or 51% in the new study
- A 35% lift in GAP penetration
Dealers who use menu software say it speeds up deal preparation and penetration. This saves everyone time at the end of a lengthy buying process. In our study, eMenu use reduced time in F&I by up to 15 minutes. That’s a big slice of time, and a key contributor to customer satisfaction.
E-menu use also keeps customers engaged, so even in the time they are in F&I, they are active participants in the process, using their hands, movements, gestures, and minds in a gaming-type manner.
The simplicity of a structured menu process makes even novice F&I managers more professional and successful. And the customer can trust the process—even when an F&I manager doesn’t stick to the script, the customer can see it.
E-menu methodologies will become key to dealerships’ movement of F&I functionality online. Already a structured process that conveys product information to buyers, its function online will permit search-and-sort of a dealer’s full aftermarket products portfolio. This takes advantage of, as well as sets the stage for, how all transactions will be done—including complete online F&I.
Customers will independently choose what products they perceive as providing the most value. This technology will track and annotate their movements. They’ll click and drag their selections to an online payments calculator to recalculate and finalize their deal online. If showroom involvement is required, that buyer’s online menu selections will be recalled for document review, and then for digital capture for the deal jacket.
While we move into an immersive selling environment where technologies engage buyers at every sensory level, tools like e-menu F&I platforms will continue to evolve to deliver greater convenience, transparency, professionalism, compliance, service, and profitability. These types of transaction experiences blend perfectly with the way today’s customers are most comfortable buying.0
From 2003 to 2019, he helmed MaximTrak, a digital F&I platform, which he founded and sold to RouteOne LLC in 2016. Until late 2019, he continued aspresident of MaximTrak and as chief digital officer for RouteOne, bringing to market solutions trusted by dealers around the world.
Jim is widely regarded as a thought leader in business technologies and wealth-building strategies for entrepreneurs and F o rtune 500 companies alike.
He is a graduate of the Babson F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business of Babson College, Babson Park, MA. He is married, with two children.
Latest posts by Jim Maxim, Jr.
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