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So Here's the Deal

(Video) Selling Paint Protection

Top trainer says the key to selling environmental protection is to educate — not sell — customers on why advances in paint application have made it a must-have.

July 6, 2016

Our question this month comes from J.T. in Lawrence, Kan., home of Lawrence Paper Company. Those folks can make a box for anything. J.T. states: “I’m a big believer in interior and exterior protection. I even bought a package for my personal vehicle. I just have a little bit of trouble getting customers to believe in the products like I do. What would you suggest?”

J.T., it’s always frustrating when you firmly believe in the value of something, know it would benefit someone, and they definitely need it, but you just can’t get them on board with the idea. I have the same problem when it comes to sex: My feature-advantage-benefit presentation never works.

Obviously, to sell environmental protection, you must first discover your customer’s need for the product so you can tailor your presentation to his or her unique situation. You must then educate the customer on why it’s critical on today’s vehicles. Some typical needs discovery questions would include:

Questions: How long do you plan on keeping this vehicle? Where is it going to be parked at night? What about during the day?

Why Ask: The more time a vehicle spends exposed to the elements, the more important environmental protection becomes.

Questions: What color is your new vehicle?  What color is the interior?

Why Ask: Dark exterior colors are more susceptible to fading and discoloration, while light interiors are more likely to show grease, grime, and stains.

Questions: How many kids (or grandkids) do you have? How old are they?

Why Ask: We have to help them see those drink spills, ketchup splatters, and French fry grease stains that are bound to happen when their kids or grandkids eat in the car.

Questions: How familiar are you with the changes in paint?

Why Ask: Hey, most customers don’t know the paint on a new vehicle is truly a technological wonder, and explaining how it’s applied will help them understand why environmental protection is absolutely critical on today’s vehicles.

See, waterborne thermosetting enamels and computer-controlled robots that use less paint and apply it more evenly have forever changed the way vehicles are painted. In fact, the paint used in your body shop is chemically different than the paint used at the manufacturing plant. And virtually every vehicle manufacturer uses thermosetting enamels that cure once the paint heats to its set point, which causes a chemical reaction. That’s why a manufacturing plant can begin assembling a car 30 minutes after its painted.

These changes in automotive paint have increased the need to protect a vehicle’s exterior from environmental hazards. So contrary to popular belief, today’s vehicles do not have more paint, they have less. While a clearcoat does help protect the underlying color coat, the use of waterborne paint allows them both to be much thinner because the clearcoat provides the glossy finish. Plus, both are applied robotically, allowing the total paint thickness on a new vehicle, including primer, to be four to seven thousandths of an inch thick. That equates to the thickness of a sheet of paper.

So when customers say they’re not familiar with the changes in automotive paint, you can educate them by saying something like: “Today’s waterborne thermosetting enamels and clear coats, which are applied robotically, have made the factory paint much more susceptible to environmental damage, which, as I’m sure you know, is specifically excluded by the manufacturer’s warranty. Unfortunately, the changes in paint have also dramatically increased the cost of repairing it, which is why it’s so important to protect it from environmental hazards. And remember, what impacts the value of a used vehicle more than anything else is its exterior and interior appearance. And when it comes time for your next vehicle, you’re going to want to get as much for this one as possible, right?”

Once you get a positive response, you’ve earned the right to go for the close. J.T., thanks for your question. Your YETI is on the way! Check out my So Here’s the Deal blog at to watch my complete video response to J.T.’s question and others. And don’t forget to submit your own video for a chance to get your question answered and a free YETI. As always, it’s a beautiful day to help a customer!

Ron Reahard is president of Reahard & Associates Inc., a training company providing F&I classes, workshops, in-dealership and online training. Got a question or objection for Ron? Use your mobile phone to record a brief video (shot landscape style!) of your question and upload it to


  1. 1. Dan [ July 13, 2016 @ 10:20AM ]

    There's a danger here: These questions you propose do leave you open to a "That's none of your business!" reply.

  2. 2. Buddy [ July 14, 2016 @ 10:15AM ]

    As a car buyer, for too many years and too many cars, I simply will not tolerate an F&I manager asking such questions. When I do hear such questions, my immediate thought is I am being sold. And yes, Dan, those questions are not something the F&I manager has a right to know.

    When I am in the F&I office, I only say yes to my name and address, the vehicle, and that is the interest rate I will accept.

  3. 3. F&I Homeboy [ July 14, 2016 @ 01:20PM ]

    If we all put our heads together and think long and hard, we may be able to think of a greater waste of money than paint/interior protection. I have a 2005 Jeep Liberty - dark khaki color, been parked outside for a few years and not a hint of oxidation. Waxing goes a long way. Plus the warranties on these products usually expire before the car will start to oxidize.

  4. 4. RJ [ July 22, 2016 @ 01:01PM ]

    Buddy may not realize, or be willing to admit, that these questions he "simply will not tolerate" are designed to help him. Of course he is being offered a product for sale, but why be so closed-minded that you would shut off a brief explanation of the benefits of a good quality paint sealant with a 7 year warranty which includes repainting, reupholstering, with no deductibles?

    Editor: Thumbs up to this comment.

  5. 5. Ron Reahard [ July 26, 2016 @ 07:07AM ]

    Thanks for your comments. Today's customers are very perceptive. They quickly recognize if someone is trying to help them, or trying to sell them. And they would much rather have a conversation than be forced to listen to a sales pitch.

    If a customer feels the F&I manager is genuinely trying to help them evaluate their options, most customers (though obviously not all) are more than willing to have conversation about why they may or may not need those options, so they can make the right decision for themselves and and their family. Selling requires communication.

    Every customer asks themselves 3 questions... 1. Can I trust this person? 2. Does he know what he's talking about? 3. Does he really care about me as a person, or is he just trying to sell me something? How they answer those 3 questions will determine whether or not we're able to sell them anything. As Zig Ziglar, one of the great sales trainers of all time once said, "Customers don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care."

    A true F&I professional believes in his or her products, and he or she genuinely cares about their customers. -Ron

  6. 6. Barry Gilreath [ July 28, 2016 @ 01:48PM ]

    Good job Ron, it is true that every option a customer has to maintain the value of their purchase should be explained they will see the value.

  7. 7. dan [ July 29, 2016 @ 08:20AM ]

    But again...the qualifying questions leave you wide open for a customer to just say "That's none of your business."

  8. 8. Joan [ August 11, 2016 @ 08:43AM ]

    If you have developed a rapport with some of your other questions, most customers might ask why. I have never had anyone say "None of your business".

  9. 9. Paul [ December 18, 2017 @ 01:10PM ]

    Second paragraph, last sentence: "I have the same problem when it comes to sex..." I find it difficult to believe how this even made it into your "training". Makes this whole article feel like a con job. Not professional at all. Unbelievable, really.

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