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Note-Taking by Salesperson Can Equal Customer and F&I Manager Walking Away Happy

October 6, 2003

If a salesperson takes notes and provides them to the F&I manager before the latter begins the conversation with a customer, closure rates increase as much as 15 percent.

This was one interesting (and revealing) statistic uncovered by an in-dealership study of F&I managers conducted recently by CNW Marketing/Research's Art Spinella. The study was conducted for the October/November 2003 F&I Extra Training Supplement which accompanies the latest issue of F&I Management and Technology Magazine.

So what’s in those notes? And how can your F&I department use them to increase closure rates?

Here are three sample items Spinella witnessed at one dealership during the time spent collecting information for the article "Training Is Good For You," which appears in the new F&I Extra Training Supplement. All three items, Spinella points out, were easily communicated from salesperson to F&I manager with just a few simple notes:

1. The customer’s real vehicle preference was a higher-grade model but his selection was MSRP price-based.

In other words, in the course of the conversation with the customer, the salesperson realized the shopper zeroed in on a model without leather seats or a sunroof because the sticker price was lower.

The F&I manager, with some judicious number crunching, slides in the sunroof at no additional charge and offsets this “give-away” by up-selling to a fancier model. The monthly payment increases only a few dollars – well within the customer’s means – and both walk away happy.

2. A customer complained about road “drumming” of a competitive brand he test drove.

The F&I manager demonstrated the noise dampening power of the dealership-installed sound deadener by pounding on sample fenders (one with and one without sound deadener) in his office. The customer nods and buys, generating a gross-profit boost of nearly $300.

3. He wants black. She wants blue. And the man lets on he loves to fish. The vehicle will be the woman’s primary vehicle and both a blue and a black version are in stock. But the blues haven’t been moving very well.

The F&I manager shaves $11 per month off of the monthly payment if they take the blue SUV suggesting, half in jest, that the savings would easily pay for his annual fishing license. Deal done!

Make A Note of It

Where’d these ideas come from?

"One of the online training programs made a whopping big deal out of note-taking and the senior F&I manager at the medium-size dealership grabbed onto the notion," Spinella said.

The senior F&I manager pitched the idea to the sales staff and had three of six sales personnel pony up to the challenge of providing personal-observation notes to the F&I manager. The increased closure rate boosted income for everyone involved.

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