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$1500 PRU: It “Aint” Rocket Science

November 2006, F&I and Showroom - Feature

“Ability is what you are capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.”

— Lou Holtz

It never fails. We visit a dealership to talk about the importance of an ongoing F&I training program, and all the F&I managers want us to do is to confirm that their department is already performing above the norm. What they fail to understand is that F&I excellence begins with establishing daily, monthly and long-term goals that are measurable and have a specific objective. These goals provide the framework for increased productivity, personal growth and job satisfaction. Isn’t that what we’re after here?

Last year, the average F&I income per retail unit (PRU) topped out at $445 for new vehicles and $632 for used vehicles, according to F&I’s 2006 reference and statistical directory (available at www.fandimag.com). Yet, the top dealers in virtually every 20 Group exceed $1,000 in F&I income, which is the typical benchmark most F&I departments we work with set as their minimum PRU.

The question the F&I department should be asking is how do dealerships across the country routinely hit the $1,500 mark? That might seem impossible when the national average is close to $500. Well, it isn’t, and it doesn’t take rocket science for your sales and F&I operation to achieve that goal.

The key to a consistent and a spectacularly performing F&I department starts with the F&I professionals. They need to be sincerely excited about the prospect of helping their customers, not simply selling them something. It requires a contagious, positive attitude. It requires someone with integrity and honesty — someone who is ethical in everything they do. But it also takes hard work, preparation, product knowledge, enthusiasm and a sincere belief in the products you offer. Individual and daily goals must also be in place. In other words, F&I professionals who routinely hit the $1,500 mark don’t employ “If I could, would you?” shortcuts.

Don’t Sell … Convince the Customer

Bottom line, F&I managers who fail to convince customers of their product’s value never achieve $1,500 PRU. If you don’t learn enough about your customer, you’ll never be able to show them how a particular product can benefit them. Success requires outstanding needs-discovery. Needs-discovery is the foundation upon which any successful product presentation is built.

This doesn’t mean memorizing countless word tracks, honing in on the perfect pitch, or using logic traps to wear down a customer’s resistance. Today’s informed consumers buy F&I products because of what those products will do for them. Identify their needs, or a problem your product can resolve. Doing so will provide you with the basis for a discussion about your product.

Start with open-ended questions that engage the customer in a dialogue that will enable you and the customer to answer that all important question: “Why does this customer need this particular product?”

Know Your Product

In the F&I office, exceptional product knowledge goes a long way. It increases your confidence and your credibility with the customer, and it allows you to tell the customer why the product will benefit them. The more you know about your product — whether that product is tire & wheel road hazard, GAP, or environmental protection — the more you’ll understand how that particular product will benefit that particular customer.

If selling more vehicle service agreements (VSA) is what you’re after, then learn about the vehicles and the various components covered by your service agreement. If your service agreement covers a throttle position sensor, then know what it is, what happens when it fails and how much it costs to repair. Simply telling the customer the throttle position sensor is covered by your VSA won’t convince your customer of why they need it.

The trick is to take advantage of every opportunity to expand your mechanical knowledge of the vehicles you sell. This expertise will go a long way with your customer. An added bonus is that you’ll better understand why the customer needs your VSA, especially with today’s increasingly sophisticated vehicles.

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