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5 Focus Factors of F&I

November 2009, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Ron Martin - Also by this author

Focus is a state or condition permitting clear perception or understanding. So, if you expect a desired outcome, you are much more likely to achieve it. That means you need to be able to channel your energy in a specific direction to increase the likelihood of getting there.

This brings to question, what factors have to be present for you to obtain your desired outcome? In F&I, the five factors are (1) the customer, (2) the team, (3) the sales process, (4) your attitude, and (5) the terminology you use. Let’s discuss each one.

1. THE CUSTOMER

The primary focus of a dealership should be the customer. Taking good care of the customer leads to higher profits and CSI, as well as far fewer complaints. Building rapport and providing the customer with products he or she desires — not the ones we think he or she needs — is crucial to being successful in F&I. That’s why I recommend starting every presentation with the following:

“Mr. and Mrs. Customer, I have everything in the computer ready to go and all of your necessary legal documentation here. But before we begin reviewing and approving the paperwork, I’d like to take a quick minute to thank you for your business. We appreciate the fact that you purchased the automobile from us today, but what is most important is that you’ll come back when you need your next vehicle.

“We would also like you to feel comfortable enough with us that you will send in your family and friends, and that you will also use our service, parts, and body shop. We have found that for these things to happen, it mostly depends on how we’ve treated you during the buying process.

“My part of the process is the financial process, and when you leave here, I’d like you to be able to say that I was prompt, efficient, and straight-forward, but most importantly, that I have explained the financial benefits that are available to you. So, I’d like to take a couple of minutes to explain those benefits.”

2. TEAM

The sales and F&I departments must work just like a relay team if you hope to maximize your time in the race and your income at the dealership. That means all deals are turned over as soon as they are accomplished.

The team must also be sure not to give the customer unrealistic payment expectations, or set them up without any down payment considerations. I recommend giving the customer multiple payment options, ones that included different choices of down payments, terms, and method of paying for the vehicle. Using an average interest rate is also important until you receive the credit application. This is especially important in today’s tight credit market.

3. SALES PROCESS

Having a focus-driven sales process is important to maximizing F&I income. This includes properly approaching the customer, presenting in a way which qualifies them to buy, overcoming the customer’s objections, and closing with a menu. The process should also include a planned presentation, not one without a sense of direction.

Properly approaching the customer means breaking their preoccupation. This is best done by asking a question to set the pace for the presentation. Examples of breaking preoccupation would be:

• Now that you have decided to purchase this new vehicle, is getting the best possible financing important to you?

• How would you like to prevent paying for any repair bill for the next five years?

• How would you like to keep that new vehicle looking new and maintaining its value?

The presentation should be a process of giving the customer some information, asking questions and listening. In order to have a focus-driven process, you need to know all of the customer’s potential objections and the appropriate responses for each.

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