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F&I in an X&Y World

April 2008, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Ronald J. Reahard - Also by this author

In today’s world where consumers can find anything they want with the click of a mouse, Generation X (born 1965-1976) and Y (born 1977-1998) customers hate waiting. They’re impatient. They want things now, not later. They hate sales pitches, sales pressure and someone who won’t (or can’t) answer their questions. Generation X and Y consumers also hate someone who wastes their time. They’re media savvy, they’re skeptical and they don’t trust salespeople. The old “throw them against the wall and see what sticks” doesn’t work when they walk in with an online approval from their credit union.

 

Word Track and 8-Tracks

Generation X and Y want hands-on, direct product contact. What they don’t want is someone reading the coverage from a brochure, or someone regurgitating a work-track some old-school F&I trainer made them memorize. They seek out knowledge and expertise; they avoid ignorance and sales pitches like the plague. They constantly multi-task, so they expect you to do the same. They come into the F&I office listening to their iPod and talking on their cell phone. They text message their friends while driving. Why can’t you type up their paperwork and carry on a conversation at the same time?

 

X and Y customers also demand proof — they want examples, not statistics. They want to be engaged and stimulated, not forced to listen to a canned pitch. Word-tracks are so yesterday (been there, done that)! They immediately recognize video and computer infomercials for what they are — sales pitches! Generation X and Y consumers want to be seen as unique individuals, not another mark. F&I infomercials, menu software and tired old closes won’t sell these customers anything…F&I professionals will!

 

New Rules, New Risks

In today’s litigious environment, who’s got their finger on the triggering term? Payment quotes must include all terms that impact the monthly payment, including term, APR, down payment and amount financed. That also includes the payments shown on your menu. Keep in mind, every document leaves a paper trail. So, what’s in your deal jacket?

 

When it comes to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, Gramm-Leach-Bliley and OFAC, you can’t win, but you can lose. What you say can cost you! And your 4-square might get you three squares and a cot, especially if it’s designed to mislead or misinform a customer. They key is compliance. That means no packed payments, no best rate promises, no illegal ties and a menu in every deal.

 

Adding Value, Not Aggravation

Customers are entitled to accurate, non-misleading monthly payment quotes. You need to make certain you provide them because tonight the entire sales and F&I transaction might just be on YouTube. Don’t believe it? Try typing in “buying a car” on www.youtube.com.

 

F&I products are also now available everywhere! Customers can buy a service agreement from their credit union and Sam’s Club, GAP from their State Farm agent, and arrange for a loan online.

 

The F&I process must add value to the customer’s purchase experience. That means giving customers options, not product presentations. We don’t want to satisfy customers, we want to delight them!

 

Money Follows Service Wherever It Goes

It’s critical that you implement a customer-focused F&I process. Don’t keep customers waiting! Bring them back to the F&I office immediately, and let them see what you’re doing. As I’ve said before, there shouldn’t be any secret spy stuff going on in there anyway. F&I should enhance the purchase experience, not simply prolong it.

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