As F&I managers, we live and breathe our products, analyzing their functions and any compliance issues that may arise when they are presented to a customer. In doing so, we become convinced that everyone needs and wants our products — that is, until our customers tell us otherwise, right?
And, boy, a sharp increase in customer resistance to our products can really do a number on our confidence, and send us scurrying for cover. Heck, there are times when you’re just wishing the sales department won’t deliver another deal that day. Yes, fear is the F&I manager’s greatest enemy. It causes us to believe the customer won’t buy anything or won’t be able to afford the product before it’s even presented.
So, for those of you going through a funk like that, I thought I’d use this month’s column to examine the three most common customer types that object to your products.
1. The Self-Insured: Yep, believe it or not, there are people out there who set aside enough cash just to cover car and home repairs. Selling them a service contract or any other product isn’t going to be easy. You’ll find that these types usually spend a lot of time researching a vehicle’s reliability record before they even step inside the dealership. They do that so they know they’re making the right decision by riding without extended coverage. They rationalize this by figuring how long they will actually drive the car and what their projected cost of ownership is going to be. Good luck converting this customer.
2. The Proud Minded: Yes, some customers are so proud that they won’t admit that breakdowns and total losses due to an accident or theft are real possibilities. Admitting this means they might not have made a good decision, and they don’t want to look bad in front of their family and peers. So, they forego the opportunity to protect their investment and will use the standard smoke-screen objection: “Son, I’ve been drivin’ Fords for 30 years and ain’t never had a problem.” Now we know this isn’t true, but to argue with this type of customer is dangerous.
3. The Budget Buyer: Now, I’m sure you have a variety of ways to address whatever objection the budget customer utters. But keep in mind that some of these customers have already been hammered on payment by the desk, and that they could already be stretched beyond the max before they’ve reached your office. That means no amount of silver-tongued persuasion is going to make them budget another nickel.
Consider the mental battles going on in a baseball game. The bases are loaded, there are two outs, your team is down by two runs and you’re strutting to the plate. Gamesmanship is being played between you and the pitcher as you exchange glares with him. Yes, you’re wondering if you have what it takes, but so is the pitcher.
Hey, the bases are loaded, you’re batting over .400, and all you need is to get the ball over the infield. Yeah, he looks calm, but visions of you sliding into second after clearing the bases with a double into the gap are also running through his head.
Well, folks, the same goes for us in the F&I office. Yes, it’s difficult to overcome the “Nos” floating around in your head, but don’t psych yourself out before the customer has even said a word. Sure, they’ve already committed to the vehicle before they arrived in your office to finalize everything, but they’re just as pensive and nervous as you are.
Listen, it’s easy to focus on the negatives. There is so much your customers get exposed to when they’re preparing to buy a vehicle. But remember, they only do this once every few years. We do it every single day of our working lives. We’re the professionals, and if anybody has reason to be afraid of making a wrong turn, it shouldn’t be us.
So, don’t focus on hitting a home run every time you step up to the plate. Just concentrate on getting on base. Everything else will take care of itself.
Marv Eleazer is a finance manager at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. E-mail him at [email protected]