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Ready, Fire, Aim!

Dealer software expert makes the case for switching to an electronic menu and reaping the rewards of a swift, productive and compliant F&I process.

January 2017, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Jim Maxim Jr.

Too many F&I practitioners still shoot from the hip. They pull the trigger too soon and the customer feels pressured and turned off. Or they mistime or shortchange a step, and the customer doesn’t get all the coverage they could use.

Unfortunately, these all-too-common mistakes fail to embrace the reality that the use of well-planned menu processes can achieve an engaging presentation every time. That most often translates to more revenue for the dealership — and a better protected customer.

I believe there are three reasons many dealers and F&I directors fail to adopt new ideas and strategies that could make them more successful and their customers more loyal:

1. Fear of change: Familiarity and comfort can strip away the alertness needed to appropriately respond to challenges. Be willing to let circumstances disrupt the status quo. Explore the new solutions our evolving market demands.
2. Fear of the unknown: Most new ideas come wrapped in some skepticism because they are new and perhaps unfamiliar. Unknown, though, doesn’t necessarily mean unproven. Ask for the data supporting what proponents of new ideas claim. Talk to your peers and your 20 Groups. Google product and company reviews to read what others say and what performance data indicates.

In 2015, my company studied approximately 1.5 million vehicle transactions conducted at 270 Fiat Chrysler dealerships. Some used an electronic menu; others did not. We found that the menu users enjoyed increased F&I profits per deal (plus $538), improved service contract penetration (plus 33% per deal), and a shorter transaction time (minus 15 minutes per transaction). Better yet, they ensured a compliant presentation was delivered to every customer.

3. Fear of replacement: Having been successful for so many years at what you do, it’s natural to push back at innovation. After all, you’re really good at what you’re good at. But here’s the thing: Your talent matched to the right technology might produce even better results.

If your dealership has been slow to change, your customers are often leaving the F&I office without having purchased the protection coverages they could really use. When this happens, F&I practitioners are leaving money on the table. How do I know? Our detailed research tells us continued non-menu selling in the F&I office hurts you and your customers in the following areas:

  • CSI: Old-school presentations take too much time and lack the transparency today’s consumers demand.
  • Reputation and trust: Anytime F&I products are pitched and prices are quoted verbally, the appearance of structure and accountability crumbles and the dealership is open to risk. F&I compliance is so critical today that no F&I manager (or dealer) should conduct F&I business if compliance to F&I practices and laws aren’t practiced and cannot be verified. The use of a menu — particularly a digital menu that captures customer signatures — mitigates many risks.
  • Lost sales: When products are presented in a fast-draw, slapdash or otherwise unstructured and opaque way, consumers may begin to feel like they are being taken for a ride. With many of today’s F&I tools becoming so interactive, intuitive and engaging, using anything else is likely costing you money and customers.

Digital emenu technology is essential for the modern dealership. Its consistent use helps F&I deliver core promises:

  • Save consumers time: Emenu use can shorten a consumer’s time in F&I by an average of 15 minutes, an enormous savings for individuals eager to be done and on their way.
  • Give consumers clarity: Paper processes leave customers wondering if they got the whole story. An interactive emenu helps them better understand the value of your products, which builds trust in them and your dealership.
  • Protect consumer data: Paper processes risk misplaced deal jackets and other documents that can put private customer data at risk. Digital menu systems promote compliance with the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act.
  • Increase F&I performance: Switching to an emenu substantially increases key F&I performance metrics, as the data on this page illustrates.

As we move into an immersive selling environment, where technology engages buyers at every sensory level, tools like emenu platforms will continue to evolve to deliver greater convenience, transparency, professionalism, compliance, service, and profitability.

With these powerful selling options, F&I changes from just hoping your aim is correct to constantly hitting the bull’s-eye.

Jim Maxim Jr. is president of MaximTrak Technologies and a nationally recognized dealer technology expert. Contact him at jim.maxim.jr@bobit.com.

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