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7 Costs Internet Shoppers Haven’t Calculated

April 2011, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by George Berkholder

Few innovations have had a bigger impact on the finance office than menu selling. The advent of the menu offered F&I managers the opportunity to move beyond step selling to a less obtrusive method of introducing customers to the products that help protect their vehicle purchase. Along the way, the menu has come to serve as an indispensable compliance tool as well. But the reality is, the menu simply represents a tool to deliver our message. In other words, it can’t do the selling for you.

Today’s consumer has been bombarded with articles and advice designed to prepare them for the car-buying experience. They know what’s coming when they finish the paperwork up front. Many of them even know what the menu is for, and they’re often determined to say “No” to whatever it has to offer.

So, is it time for a new way to deliver our message? Not unless you can come up with a delivery mechanism that also works to satisfy compliance requirements and is recognizable to state and federal regulators. See, what really needs to change is our message, not the way in which we deliver it.

Don’t Fear the Internet Shopper

Yes, the Internet shopper knows a little bit more than yesterday’s car buyer. Most consumer surveys point to a shopper that spends hours upon hours researching their next vehicle purchase and the price they’ll pay to own it. What they’re looking for is the best deal they can get, which means today’s F&I managers will have to deliver new information to get this well-researched shopper to listen.

So, how does an F&I manager deliver substance? Well, let’s review what we know about today’s buyers. First, we know that the finance buyer is after a deal they believe they can afford monthly. The cash buyer bases his or her purchase on a price they know they can afford with the money they have available. What these two types of customers don’t factor in is the true cost of ownership, which is what our new message needs to center on. Let’s take a look at seven cost variables on which you can center your message:

Insurance: Like the car payment, insurance represents a fixed cost to most consumers. However, it can be a variable to consumers if they didn’t check pricing first, so make sure to find out if they did.

Gas: Many consumers have an idea of what it will cost to drive their new vehicle, but nobody knows when and by how much gas prices will increase. And as we’ve seen recently, a jump in gas prices can happen anytime.

Maintenance: The cost of regularly scheduled oil changes, tire rotations and alignments can add up quickly over time. Car buyers know they have to have these services performed to keep their vehicles in good working condition, but they rarely budget for it at the time of purchase.

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