A battle is brewing over F&I menus, and lines are being drawn in the sand. No longer is the debate over whether it should be used; it’s about how it should be used. But be warned: You’d better surround yourself by like-minded people before offering your opinion.

Menu providers won’t even get into this debate. Instead, they’ll talk about how their menu will blend with whatever method you subscribe to. Even trainers are careful when offering their opinion. I guess I’m amazed at how the tool that was supposed to make us better at what we do has become such a flashpoint for our industry.

The current debate centers around what form the menu should take. If you’re from the George Angus school, you view the menu as more of a disclosure form: The less you make it look like a sales tool, the more successful you’ll be.

Then there are those who believe the menu should take the “good-better-best” approach. They think that three- or four-column menus are the best way to get through more products in a shorter amount of time. That makes sense to me, but so does Angus’ theory.

Then there is what seems to be a new wrinkle on an old method of selling. Some refer to it as a hybrid approach to selling, and two of this year’s F&I Pacesetters seem to be employing it.

In this scenario, products are disclosed early and often. The hope is that the customer will mentally commit to purchasing before the menu is even shown. And when it does appear, products are displayed in one customized package. Now, I want to make it clear that I’m not referring to payment packing, where the customer is unaware of what they’re buying or for how much. I’m merely referring to how the menu is formatted.

I also want to make it clear that there is no trickery involved. The method merely calls for the producer to list each product in one column before he or she says to the customer, “Do you remember when I told you about how GAP protects you?” or “Remember when I explained the benefits of our tire-and-wheel protection?” That’s when the F&I manager moves to a step-sell approach — that old method of selling that seems to be making a comeback.

I know we were led to believe that the menu would eliminate the step-sell approach, but evidently it hasn’t. Some insiders, including an executive for a major F&I provider, now prefer the aformentioned hybrid approach over all others. But doesn’t that relegate the menu to nothing more than a disclosure tool?

When I judged our F&Idol contest, I noticed that not one contestant brought out the menu. Now, I understand that we asked participants to record themselves selling and overcoming objections for one product, but the menu was nowhere to be seen.

What I did see were those mats  F&I managers use to disclose the factory warranty coverage. F&I managers would start by disclosing what’s covered and for how long before jumping into their service-contract pitch. I know, we got what we asked for. But for all of those stats we published about how the menu can drive up sales, it was still surprising to me that it never appeared in any of those videos.

I guess I’m wondering if we should even refer to the menu as a selling tool. I mean, several of this year’s F&I Pacesetters seemed more focused on the menu as a compliance and accountability tool. Heck, even the Pacesetter who described his F&I selling process as “menuless” uses the menu to ensure proper disclosure and compliance. 

So, where do you stand? Personally, I think the best menu is the one that works for your operation. Now, I’m no trainer. I’m just a guy who watched about 35 videos for our F&Idol contest and can tell you who I would buy from. I’ll tell you who that is next month, when we profile the 2011 F&Idol winner.

Author

Gregory Arroyo
Gregory Arroyo

Editorial Director

Gregory Arroyo is the former editorial director of Bobit Business Media's Dealer Group.

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Gregory Arroyo is the former editorial director of Bobit Business Media's Dealer Group.

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