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F&I Unplugged

Two Indiana dealers explain why they dropped four-column paper menus in favor of a two-column mobile menu — and how the switch jump-started their product sales.

June 2012, F&I and Showroom - Cover Story

by Justina Ly

What happens when an F&I manager needs a new way to sell products? The options are nearly limitless. For Tim Dulaney and Monte Sommers, the answer was simple: Switch to a mobile menu.

Dulaney and Sommers work as F&I managers at two separate dealerships in Indiana. Six months ago, they both converted to a mobile F&I menu. Other F&I managers and industry professionals might bristle at the thought of leaving their tried-and-true paper menus behind, but Dulaney and Sommers say they have no plans of returning to their old selling ways.

Dulaney is a 10-year industry veteran and the F&I director at Chandler Chevrolet in Madison, Ind. He says the traditional four-column paper menu, with its pre-packaged system, was not versatile enough for him. "First, if I were a customer, I would think that I had to pick a package or nothing at all," he says. "As the user, if I wanted to make any alterations to the packages, I had to change them on the computer first."

Tim Dulaney averaged 1.5 products per deal before switching to the iTapMenu in January. Since then, the F&I director at Chandler Chrevrolet is averaging 2.5 products per deal. He also sold more paint and fabric products in his first month using the mobile F&I menu than he did in 10 years. He says customers are more engaged now that he’s made the switch, and adds that his goal is to make his F&I pitch wherever his customers feel most comfortable.
Tim Dulaney averaged 1.5 products per deal before switching to the iTapMenu in January. Since then, the F&I director at Chandler Chrevrolet is averaging 2.5 products per deal. He also sold more paint and fabric products in his first month using the mobile F&I menu than he did in 10 years. He says customers are more engaged now that he’s made the switch, and adds that his goal is to make his F&I pitch wherever his customers feel most comfortable.

Using the four-column paper menu, Dulaney says he managed to sell an average of 1.5 products per vehicle. That’s a respectable number by industry standards, but Dulaney knew he could do better. "Everything evolves. If you don’t evolve, you’re going to get left behind," he says. "With the technology out there, there had to be a newer, better way to present products."

Sommers, F&I director at Eastgate Chrysler Dodge Jeep in Indianapolis, agrees. He says the four-column paper menu lacked the flexibility he needed. "The problem with the paper menu was that I didn’t have any flexibility," says the 17-year industry veteran. "Sometimes the customer would only want one product from a two-product column."

Tired of the rigidity of the traditional menu, Sommers and Dulaney switched to the iTapMenu, an F&I sales tool that operates on the Apple iPad. So far, both F&I producers say their product sales and customer satisfaction have greatly improved since they went mobile.

Going Mobile

Going from paper to mobile wasn’t easy. It took a few weeks for Dulaney and Sommers to figure out how to incorporate the mobile solution into their processes.

For Dulaney, figuring out how and where to present the mobile menu was a difficult adjustment. "I found the most effective way for me was not to present it in my office," he says. "We don’t have a lot of space on the showroom floor, so I’ll go to the salesperson’s office, a spare office or the customer lounge."

Dulaney has even given presentations to customers while they were smoking cigarettes outside the showroom. He says his goal is to be with a customer wherever he or she is most comfortable. He even makes it a point to sit beside his customers, rather than across the desk from them. The added proximity allows him to drive the F&I presentation on the iPad. "I’m on their side," he says. "I’m not at a desk pushing them with what to do. I’m showing them how it works and letting them play around with it."

Since he started using the iTapMenu in January, Dulaney is averaging 2.5 products per vehicle. The change also had a positive effect on underperforming products. "Paint and fabric sold more in January than it has in the 10 years I’ve been here," he says. GAP penetration rates also have increased, from 50 to 70 percent. Service contracts, etch, tire-and-wheel and credit insurance also appear on Dulaney’s menu.

Sommers’ transition was more gradual. He chose to continue using his paper menu alongside iTapMenu for the first month and a half. Toggling between the two menus was cumbersome, but Sommers says he and his F&I manager took advantage of the transition period. Role-playing, Sommers says, was key.

After five months using the iTapMenu, Sommers’ profit per vehicle retailed (PVR) jumped from $900 to $1,300. His acceptance rates also increased, rising from 45 to 55 percent for service contracts and from 43 to 53 percent for GAP. Etch improved from 35 to 60 percent, and paint and fabric protection jumped from 12 to 35 percent.

Comment

  1. 1. Erick Woods [ June 16, 2012 @ 08:58PM ]

    Let's not forget the first to market (2006) MenuSys at http://www.menusys.com/

  2. 2. Bill Van Oyen [ June 27, 2012 @ 05:51PM ]

    21 years in the F & i office, and I still feel we can learn something new all the time. It makes sense to always try to get on the consumers side, however possible, and don't try to sell them products, present options, always goes smoother

  3. 3. Paula [ July 17, 2012 @ 08:34PM ]

    Over the last 27 years we have been working with auto OEM's and dealers to bring new innovations online and in showrooms. This is an outstanding product that makes it a pleasure for the customers and F&I manager sit on the same side of the transaction.

 

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