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10 ‘Next’ Practices for F&I

Don’t let so-called ‘best practices’ get in the way of your performance or your customers’ needs. The magazine’s resident F&I expert lists the 10 ‘next practices’ that are driving processes at top dealerships.

February 2012, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Ronald J. Reahard - Also by this author

An industry “best practice” can best be defined as a method, process or technique that has consistently shown results superior to those achieved by other means. If successful, it becomes the standard for a particular business practice or process. Unfortunately, many of our best practices have turned F&I into something customers must endure in order to buy a vehicle.

Our process is still built on an approach that begins with an artificial customer interrogation. Even worse, the entire process is designed to take advantage of the uninformed, the ignorant, the unsophisticated and the people who don’t like to negotiate. It’s an antiquated method, and it’s time to change.

Today’s F&I sales process needs to reflect heightened customer expectations, their instant access to information and the current regulatory environment. That’s why we must replace some of those old processes with what I like to call “next” practices. Let’s take a look at 10 such practices that every F&I professional needs to embrace.

Practice No. 1: Be Easy To Do Business With

Customers have to buy you before they’ll buy your products. If the customer likes you, trusts you and feels like you know what you’re talking about, they’re going to be interested in what you have to say. If they think you’re trying to sell them something they don’t want and don’t think they need, they’ll stop listening.

When it comes to selling F&I products, the “next” practice is about helping that person on the other side of the desk make better decisions. We have to educate them about the options available to them, and we need to help them make the right decision for themselves and their families.

Practice No. 2: Come Down Off Your Throne

Greet customers in the salesperson’s office, and be of service. Start by offering them a drink. You’ll be amazed at how a customer’s attitude changes when they feel you’re there to serve them, rather than sell them. It’s also critical that we bring customers back to the F&I office immediately. We have to stop wasting their time and discover their needs as we prepare their paperwork. We have to be totally transparent, and we have to demonstrate that the F&I process is expediting the delivery process, not slowing it down.

Practice No. 3: Maximize Your Menu’s Effectiveness

Menus don’t sell products, F&I professionals do. That’s why you need to stop wasting time sitting in your office customizing a menu before you’ve even presented it. Customers need to see that you’re there to help. Try customizing your menu while you discuss their options.

It also is important that you stop the stair step. The payments on your menu should never go from big to small, or small to big. No restaurant, service department or other menu is set up that way. Besides, isn’t the goal to get customers to look at the menu, not direct their attention to the cheapest option?

Practice No. 4: Make the Invisible Visible

Because we’re selling intangible products, we need to use visual aids to help customers “see” the need for these products. A simple drawing illustrating how GAP works or what happens when a low-profile tire hits a pothole is much more effective than simply telling the customer what happens. In the F&I office, one picture is worth a thousand dollars, right?


  1. 1. Susana [ March 14, 2012 @ 10:58AM ]

    Wow well said!

  2. 2. Teddy Salazar [ February 19, 2014 @ 11:20AM ]

    Well done Ron, I really enjoy your workshop training at Suburban Collection.


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