Our question this month comes from Aaron from Des Moines, Iowa — home of Kum & Go, which, apparently, Iowans like to do. Aaron states, “One of the issues I’ve run into lately is customers putting a lot down, so there’s no need for GAP. And because these customers only expect to keep their vehicles two or three years, selling a service contract becomes problematic as well. What would you do?”

Aaron, our job in F&I is to offer every customer every product every time. We are also responsible for helping customers make informed decisions about which of those options might be important to them and their family. This is why we don’t customize a menu in advance. Not only is it a waste of time, it gives customers the impression that we’re trying to sell them products they don’t need. When they don’t need a product, we agree with them and cross that product off the menu.

The menu presentation represents another opportunity to build credibility with the customer. Merely reviewing, not selling, the options available the first time you run through the menu tells customers you’re not going to attempt to sell them something they aren’t interested in. From there, we begin a dialogue with the customer by asking an open-ended question such as, “Which of these options do you think would most benefit you and your family?”

If the customer says, “None of them,” you first want to reduce his or her sales resistance. Here’s a response that does just that: “No problem. I just need your initials here and we’ll finish up your paperwork and get you on your way home in your new car.” What we’ve done with that statement is let the customer win. They don’t have to buy anything or listen to a product presentation. And we don’t question their judgment by demanding to know why they don’t want something.

Instead, right after they initial by the principal and interest payment, we want to create interest in the product or products they do need. And we’ll do that based on what we learned about them in our needs discovery. Here’s how it’s done:

F&I manager: I’d have to agree. With the amount you’re putting down, your chance of ever having negative equity is pretty small. I don’t think you need GAP, although a couple of the other products might be especially important in your case.

Customer: Well, I don’t need the service contract. I’m probably only going to keep the car two or three years.

F&I manager: I can understand why you wouldn’t think you need the additional coverage. Especially if you’re only going to keep the car two or three years, it’s going to be under warranty the whole time you own it. Why buy a service agreement for someone else, right?

Customer: Right.

F&I manager: Actually, that’s one of the best things about a vehicle service agreement. If you do trade, you can cancel the unused portion and get a refund. Or you can transfer it to the next owner, which turns an “As is” used car, which is virtually unsalable, into a pre-owned vehicle with three years of coverage remaining, dramatically increasing its value and the return on your investment. If you decide to keep the car, or give it to one of your kids, you never have to worry about repairs. So you really can’t lose. And no matter how long you keep the car, you want to get as much for it as possible, right?

A “Yes” answer means you’ve earned the right to go for the close. Of course, the customer may need more information or have additional concerns you’ll need to address, so you may need to explain why your dealership employs only component replacement experts vs. technicians. The key message here is you need to first collapse confrontation before you attempt to create interest. Aaron, thanks for your question. Your Yeti is on the way!

Want a Yeti? Send me your question. If we use it, you’ll get your question answered and a free Yeti. Check out my video response to Aaron’s question and others by going to my So Here’s the Deal blog at www.fi-magazine.com. Until next month, remember, it’s a beautiful day to help a customer!

Ron Reahard is president of Reahard & Associates Inc., a training company providing F&I classes, workshops, in-dealership and online training. Got a question or objection for Ron? Use your mobile phone to record a brief video (shot landscape style!) of your question and upload it to www.hightail.com/u/REAHARD.

About the author

Ron Reahard

President of Reahard & Associates

Ron Reahard is president of Reahard & Associates Inc., a Dealers’ Choice Award-winning provider of F&I classes, workshops, and in-dealership and online training. Contact him at [email protected].

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