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F&I's 10 Commandments

February 2011, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Rick McCormick - Also by this author

There’s nothing like those first few days of being an F&I manager. You feel like you can sell anything to anybody. Unfortunately, that feeling wears off once you realize that most customers aren’t initially interested in your products and it will take some effort to overcome those walls of resistance.

Now that you know working as an F&I manager is harder than it looks, let’s review the “10 Commandments of F&I” that, if followed, will provide a helpful roadmap to success in this challenging position.

Diagnose Before You Prescribe

Imagine the lawsuits and loss of patients a doctor would face if he or she prescribed remedies before knowing the cause of his or her patients’ problems. The same goes for an F&I manager, whose primary purpose is to discover each customer’s unique circumstances. That’s where open-ended, needs-discovery questions come in, allowing you to uncover why your customers need your products. Remember, you can’t prescribe without diagnosing the need your products will fulfill.

Listen Twice as Much as You Speak

A good listener can draw others in like a magnet, while someone who dominates a conversation will always drive people away. Remember, people don’t buy when they understand; they buy when they feel understood. So, when a customer says, “I bought a service contract before and never used it,” use the “Repeat-Respond-Reap” method:

Repeat: “So, what I hear you saying is you feel like you just wasted your money the last time. Am I right?” You build a high level of trust and credibility with customers when they feel like they’ve been heard and understood.

Respond: “You don’t have to buy anything. These are just options. However, if this vehicle breaks, we can’t fix it.”

Reap: “We don’t fix anything anymore. We just replace the failed component. If your gas gauge fails, we have to replace the entire instrument cluster. That makes a minor repair a major expense, which is why a service contract is critical, especially on a new vehicle.”

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