Surveys tell us customers loathe the finance office process the most. The time this phase of the deal can take drives buyers nuts. Because finance managers know this, they are prone to rushing through the F&I aftermarket product presentation or skip it altogether.
Thus, saving time, if only minutes, while going through the F&I process is a big deal to customers. So when the right F&I process can shave 15 to 20 minutes off a thorough and compliant aftermarket products presentation, both customer and dealership win.
A 2015 AutoTrader study provides background: It notes the average time to complete the F&I process was more than an hour—two-thirds of the 90-minute window customers are most willing to tolerate.
Using digital processes through F&I—from presentation tools to menus and signatures to ratings—can save time for consumers while at the same time delivering a more thorough, compliant presentation.
AutoTrader reports that what greatly lengthens the F&I process is capturing signatures on multiple paper forms, and filling out these forms. It noted this paperwork process alone takes 21 to 44 minutes, “making it a significant time-consuming variable in the F&I process.”
The digital solution
The digital F&I office eliminates these bottlenecks. Various studies have shown that F&I office efficiency and profitability improve where F&I managers use an electronic menu system. Such a system’s use helps organize, price, and present aftermarket products so customers better understand their value—and want to buy them.
For example, a 2015 MaximTrak study of 270 Fiat Chrysler Automobiles dealers using e-menu software showed the technology lifted per-vehicle revenue an average of 72%, and vehicle service contract penetration by 51%.
Using repeatable, measurable, and recordable F&I practices on every transaction will help you:
- Save customers time in the finance office, and address their desire for transaction transparency and efficiency.
- Add value to customers’ vehicle purchase by ensuring the right products for their vehicle are presented clearly. Only then will customers be clear about what aftermarket products are available to them, what the product or products do for them, and how adding these to the deal affects their total vehicle purchase price.
- Increase the dealership’s ability to sell more aftermarket products and boost PVR.
- Ensure recordable compliance to all essential F&I trade practice regulations.
Best practices to boost results
Dealers using e-menu systems that integrate with their dealer management system say these best practices help them achieve improved F&I results:
- Insist on menu use. E-menu systems make even novice F&I managers more professional and successful. This competitive edge is delivered through a centralized F&I platform that combines the many different generic applications most F&I managers use.
- Be proactive. Begin saving customers time by tackling the initial inquiry phase of the F&I presentation by speaking with them while they’re finishing up with their sales associate. Ask a few quick questions that gauge areas of potential interest: Is GAP desired? Would a paint protection package be valued for handling dings from kids’ bikes and wayward grocery carts? Would a tire and wheel package give them peace of mind? Would a service contract to cover future maintenance and repair costs have value to used vehicle buyers? Some of the more cutting-edge e-menu technologies have a survey built in that feeds into a buyer risk profile and product recommendation matrix to improve closing success.
- Customize their presentation. Take what is learned from this initial query back to the F&I office and start building the presentation. A customer-specific menu can now be readied for the customer’s arrival into F&I. Confirm with them what was learned about their needs before they left their sales associate’s desk. Then start the presentation.
- Build value. Never assume the customer understands the value of products like GAP or Etch, or any other products you present. Be sure to explain these products to them in words that convey product value and benefit. Because you’ve packaged your presentation so the menu focuses on the products customers have already showed interest in, talk to them first about these items to get them saying “yes.”
- Capture the deal. Upon agreement of the products presented, obtain the customer signature to the menu, either as a physical signature to a print out or digital signature. Electronic systems that time-stamp and record transactions ensure proof that all F&I customers received an aftermarket products presentation, what they agreed to purchase, and how those purchases affect their total deal price.
A final advantage of electronic menu systems is the depth of insightful reporting that many of them can provide, helping you:
- Improve F&I department practices.
- Increase penetration by product.
- Lift PVR by sale.
- Recognize staff members doing a great job selling in all key product categories.
- Identify which staff members require additional training to improve results.
In a market of shrinking margin opportunity, e-menu software will help boost aftermarket product penetration and PVR, improve customer satisfaction. and keep the F&I process compliant to the law.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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