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The Interview

A five-minute interview can go a long way toward putting customers at ease, and it may even lead to a nice boost in F&I profit per vehicle retailed. F&I trainer breaks down the process.

September 2011, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Don Geroni

Some F&I managers dislike it, others swear by it. Some say it’s the single most important part of the F&I process, and they won’t deliver a vehicle without it. What we’re talking about here is the customer interview.

Only you can decide whether the extra five minutes per customer is worth your time. If it is, then it’s worth doing it right. Let’s delve into the customer interview and highlight a couple of must-haves for making it work for your dealership.

Perception Is Everything

F&I managers who favor the customer interview prefer it be done in the showroom, either at an empty office or at an empty table. The key is that it be done outside of the F&I office, as it allows the customer to remain in his or her comfort zone.

Whether based on past experiences or stories they’ve heard from friends, customers perceive the F&I office as the place where buyers have their payment and rate bumped. To them, F&I is where they are lied to and pressured into buying products they don’t want. At the very least, they know they will have to sign piles of paperwork.

So, if that’s how customers feel about the F&I office, how could they possibly be in the the right state of mind to listen to everything the F&I manager has to say? The good news is that those walls of resistance can be broken. And the best time to do that is when the salesperson has a signed purchase order, a customer application and a credit report.

Once those items have been collected, the F&I manager should go out to the customer and introduce himself or herself. Be sure to provide your name and title while shaking hands with your customers and congratulate them for their purchase. Then, ask them if they will join you for a quick discussion.

First, list your responsibilities as F&I manager, which includes completing and reviewing his or her paperwork and assisting with his or her financing options. You also want to make sure you tell the customer that your job is to get him or her on the road as quickly as possible. Doing this sets a realistic time expectation for the entire process, which is key to keeping customers in a listening and, hopefully, buying mood.

This nonconfrontational, downstream approach will work wonders for your dealership’s customer satisfaction index. Customers feel relaxed and in control, and they will more likely have a positive impression of you.


  1. 1. Sam khoury [ October 07, 2011 @ 05:53PM ]

    any F&I training in the Fort Lauderdale area in Florida?

  2. 2. Dan [ May 16, 2016 @ 09:16AM ]

    How would you handle a customer who refuses to answer any questions? At least not questions regarding credit or finance or anything like that.

    "About How many miles a year do you drive?"

    "That's a pretty personal question. Why do you want to know?"

  3. 3. Victor [ January 24, 2017 @ 01:32PM ]

    That is when you say," because the factory limited warranty is based on 3 years or 36000 miles whichever comes first. I want to make sure that you understand Mr. Customer, it is "OR". So you fully understand that is based on 12000 miles a year. Is that how much you drive or do you drive more than that?"


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