The Industry's Leading Source For F&I, Sales And Technology

Certification & Training

F&I’s Value Statement

August 2009, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Nate Hall

Many of us veteran F&I professionals know how good the business was in the recent past. With higher gas prices, portfolio troubles with banks and subprime lenders, and a sputtering economy, producing good results in the F&I department is definitely a challenging task. Add to that declining sales and the higher cost for a dealer to operate effectively and you’ve got a pretty difficult situation for a lot of dealers nationwide. These situations have made F&I performance not only necessary, but critical for some dealers to survive.  

Now, forget for a minute that you work in the car business. Put on your customers’ shoes and you may find yourself in the same boat most Americans find themselves in. Today’s typical consumer has tightened up the purse strings. Prices are higher for many of the basic necessities needed to function and live the American lifestyle we’ve become accustomed to. The average American is forced to allocate a much bigger portion of his or her paycheck for fuel, food, utilities, and many other essentials, leaving little to no room for extra expenses or unexpected emergencies. This has created a lot of stress and problems for the average consumer.

The financial and emotional turmoil leads to one thing: F&I is more important to consumers and dealers than ever before. Now is the time to step back and take a look at your career. You are employed to help customers and guide them through the auto purchase process. You must believe this simple fact: What you do and what you say in the one hour you spend with a customer can potentially change someone’s life. It’s a profound statement that holds so much truth.

Making Vehicle Ownership Better

If you do not believe that your products can affect someone’s life, ask someone who has made a claim on a credit life policy.

Some time ago, a customer walked into my dealership. She asked what would happen if she voluntarily surrendered her car to the lender? I learned her 58-year-old husband had passed away from a sudden stroke. After doing some research, I found out the gentleman had purchased the car on his own, as well as a credit insurance package. He did so because he was the only one in the family employed.

When I informed the customer she would be able to keep the car and never have to make another payment, she broke down and cried right in the finance office. She explained to me that they did not have a lot of money saved away and that her husband intended on working for as long as he could. The only life insurance he had was a small policy given to him by his employer, which was equivalent to 12 months of pay.

She said without the car, she didn’t know how she would find work to earn the money needed to keep her home. That credit life policy so many of us take for granted changed her life. 

F&I products are important, not just for a dealer’s bottom line and your job security, but for the very people who purchase them. Take for example the benefits of a vehicle service contract. Today’s complex cars, trucks, and SUVs are more expensive than ever to repair. Higher emissions standards, customer demands for performance and luxury, and tighter safety requirements have forced auto manufacturers to cram today’s vehicles with loads of sophisticated technology, computer systems, and high-dollar components.

All of this results in repairs that cost consumers double, even triple, what they paid 10 years ago. Today’s cars are much easier to diagnose, yet parts and labor rates have skyrocketed due to the changes in repair practices. A blown head gasket or a bad throttle position sensor is no longer just an inconvenience to a customer; it can become a financial catastrophe for a family already stretched to the limit. 

Your Comment

Please note that comments may be moderated. 
Leave this field empty:
Your Name:  
Your Email: