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So Here's the Deal

(Video) Losing the 'F' in F&I

An F&I pro says his dealership’s decision to remove the ‘F’ from his F&I duties is hurting his ability to handle customer objections. The magazine’s resident F&I pro weighs in.

August 8, 2016

Our question this month comes from “name withheld upon request. Name withheld laments, “At our dealership, the salespeople take the credit application, the desk pulls the credit bureau, submits the deals, obtains an approval, and quotes the rate and payment before I ever see a customer. They expect customers to be in and out of F&I in 15 minutes. So I go greet the customer, do a brief showroom interview, load the deal, print as many forms as possible, and customize my menu. I then bring the customer to my office and present my products, but I’m having trouble overcoming objections. What do you recommend?”

Name withheld, I can understand why you’re having trouble. When customers say they don’t need a service contract, you’re unable to provide them with reasons why they do. About the only thing you can do is relate multiple benefits and hope one of them happens to collide with a need. That’s a very ineffective and inefficient way of selling.

In the F&I office, the goal is to overcome objections before you get them. That requires asking specific needs-discovery questions for every F&I product you offer. Unfortunately, because of the way things are done at your dealership, you aren’t afforded the time to discover your customers’ needs. My recommendation is to make a list of needs-discovery questions you can ask your customers throughout the F&I ­process.

You also need to get involved earlier in the transaction. What’s happening is that the “F” in F&I has been taken over by the desk. We see this quite often, especially if there has been a lot of turnover in the F&I office, or the desk manager has been there forever and the F&I manager is new or inexperienced. Whatever the reason, in order for the F&I process to be perceived by customers as adding value to their purchase experience, you need to be actively involved in arranging the financing.

In most dealerships, credit applications are completed prior to the customer being introduced to the F&I manager. At a minimum, however, you should review the credit application with the customer prior to submission to a finance source, as it’s critical you confirm the information on the credit application and in the credit bureau. This will provide you with a clear understanding of the customer’s financial situation prior to submission to a lender.

See, every customer has a story, and you have to hear that story. This will allow you to assist the sales department (and the customer) in structuring a deal that has a better chance of receiving an approval, even if the deal has some negative issues. Properly used during your customer interview, the credit application and credit bureau report can be a source of numerous needs-discovery questions that will help you overcome objections and sell product.

For example, when I confirm the customer’s address is “123 Any Street,” I then ask, “So, do you have room in the garage for the new car? Where will you park it at night? What about during the day?” This can help you sell GAP, environmental protection, or a theft-deterrent product.

When confirming their employment at ABC Corporation, ask, “How far is your commute to work? What route do you take?” Such questions can tee up the sale of tire-and-wheel protection, allowing you to paint a picture of your customer hitting that pothole on I-95.

Finally, you need to stop making customers wait while you load their deal and create the menu. This is prime needs-discovery time that is being wasted. Customize the menu with your customers so they see you’re there to help them take delivery of their vehicle as soon as possible, explain their options, answer their questions, and adjust the products, packages, and coverage based on their wants, needs, and concerns.

In the F&I office, needs-discovery is the foundation on which we must build every sale. Understanding the unique qualities of each customer and their particular circumstances allows you to position your products as a solution to their needs. Only then can you overcome their objections.

Name withheld, thanks for your question. Check out my video response to this question and others by visiting my So Here’s the Deal blog at www.fi-magazine.com. 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 go-reahard.com/ask-ron/

Comments

  1. 1. Buddy [ August 11, 2016 @ 09:20AM ]

    This article highlights what is wrong with the F&I process from a buyers prospective. The author, and other F&I experts, seems to believe the F&I manager has right to expect the buyer to discuss things like where they park their car, what is their commute, or what route they drive. Neither the sales person nor the F&I manger have any right or any need for any information other than the buyers credit score, and only if they are financing.

    Personally, when I run into this type of F&I manger I say no once and then clam up and just wait for the final paper work. It is kind of amusing to witness the F&I manger's response when I say nothing in response to their questions.

    From a buyer's prospective a goal of overcoming my objections is an invitation to a lost sale. The F&I manager may call my no an objection but it is really nothing more than I do not want any product, period. An F&I manager's need to overcoming the buyer's objections is the prime reason buyers dislike the dealership experience.

  2. 2. Hero [ August 14, 2016 @ 11:17AM ]

    Buddy, you seem to be on a real quest to bash on F&I professionals and their industry. I'm curious why you've taken the time to peruse the articles on this website to blatantly tell us how we are all evil pricks. If you don't like the F&I process there are auto brokers and wholesalers galore. Hell buy your car from Enterprise or Hertz. Most of us are honestly trying to help folks out, and when you have someone come give you a hug because you convinced them GAP was a good idea and it saved them a couple grand when their vehicle was totaled, or saved a $1800 repair on their air conditioning when it was 105*F outside because you demonstrated the need for a VSC, that's the objections we are overcoming. Not everyone out there has bundles of money to be able to deal with the events of life. Please don't take your limited view and privileged financial position and assume everyone else has the same resources you do, it's disgusting.

  3. 3. Chance [ August 17, 2016 @ 09:04AM ]

    Buddy...Stop buying new cars if you hate the process so much.

  4. 4. skk [ August 17, 2016 @ 01:17PM ]

    Buddy... I run into guys like you every. day.
    Our goal as F&I is to provide a service---after market products that benefit the customer by protecting their checkbook AND facilitate the finance process for the customer. We also know which customers to push and which ones not to push. Many buyers are not aware of any of the products out there...and many-like you-don't care to know, and that's ok too. This blogs target audience is the F & I perspective.
    "The author, and other F&I experts, seems to believe the F&I manager has right to expect the buyer to discuss things like where they park their car, what is their commute, or what route they drive. Neither the sales person nor the F&I manger have any right or any need for any information other than the buyers credit score, and only if they are financing."
    It's called getting to know your customer...small talk...idle chatter....whatever you want to call it--it all makes for a good experience for both the buyer and F&I.

  5. 5. Dan [ August 17, 2016 @ 04:29PM ]

    Buddy: I get what you are trying to say, but I don't think you need to be so aggressive about it. That's only going to cause more trouble.

    I admit that I share a good deal of Buddy's skepticism, considering my past experience with an F&I manager turned out poorly. When the time comes that I have to purchase a new vehicle, I'm at least willing to hear the guy out, but he will have his work cut out for him. I'll hold my ground if I have to, but I won't be come hostile.

    I read this website because I feel it gives me the perspective of the other side...which I do feel it cannot hurt to know about. Of course I tend to ask a lot of questions that simply do not get answered. That being said, hearing about these F&I "qualifying questions" does once again make me think that if I am asked I will simply reply "I don't feel comfortable answering that. I don't think it's any of your business."

  6. 6. Ron Reahard [ August 17, 2016 @ 07:58PM ]

    One of the best books ever written is "How to Win Friends and Influence People" by Dale Carnegie. I highly recommend it, whether you're in sales or not. The communication skills he outlines are every bit as valid and effective today as they were when he wrote the book in 1936. Begin in a friendly way, become genuinely interested in others, etc.

    In my experience, people making a major purchase and committing to five years of monthly payments much prefer having a conversation about their options versus sitting in silence or being forced to listen to a sales pitch. In 40+ years in sales, I don't ever recall a someone telling me something is none of my business.

    When I have my annual physical, my physician asks me about my job, where I'm going on my next trip, how my business is doing, etc. The fact is, that is none of his business, and it has absolutely nothing to do with my health, but I'm glad to answer his questions, because he's friendly, he's professional, and he's genuinely interested. It also takes my mind off what I know is coming next. In my experience, it's not what you ask, it's how and why you ask it.

    Thanks to all for reading and for your comments!

  7. 7. steven jennings [ August 29, 2016 @ 09:43AM ]

    Buddy, I agree when you say no it is not an objection. Over coming an objection is something totally different. A true professional will pick up on your lack of interest and place you in the category of 20% of the buying public that is not buying anything additional regardless of what is said or done. However, when you clam up until the final paperwork is ready to be signed, just for your amusement places you into the category of being a total jerk.

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