Our question this month comes from Kyle in St. Louis, famous for baseball, beer and the Compton Hill Water Tower. And let me tell you, that is one impressive water tower.
Kyle says, “I had a customer bring a friend in to co-sign on his loan. The buyer was all-in on the service contract, GAP and maintenance. His buddy, trying to be a hero, told him he didn’t need it. I worked with them for 45 minutes, but his buddy finally convinced him not to buy anything. What would you recommend I do the next time a friend is telling my customer not to buy anything?”
Kyle, I’m really glad you asked, because this is a very common situation. Even with a world of information at their fingertips, today’s car buyers still want someone they know and trust to help them make the big decisions. That means you have to build value in the product for the friend just as you would for the buyer — but for a vehicle the friend might never drive. This can be difficult, because, in his mind, if he doesn’t need the protection for his own car, neither does his friend. Of course, it’s not his car, and he won’t be directly affected if the vehicle breaks down, gets stolen or is totaled in an accident.
My advice is to remind your next friend that not having this protection could cost the buyer thousands of dollars. If that were to happen, it could jeopardize their friendship. If he doesn’t feel there’s any chance of his friend ever needing this protection, then he should be willing to assume the risk.
You need to help both parties realize there is a significant amount of risk involved, and that the buyer’s trusted adviser doesn’t want to take the risk either. We do this by offering to allow his buddy to assume all the risk on behalf of the buyer. Once he declines to assume the risk, it’s clearly hypocritical for him to recommend that the buyer assume the risk. We do this with a simple tool called an acknowledgement of financial responsibility form. Here’s how it works:
F&I manager: Lloyd, I understand. You don’t feel this additional coverage is necessary, and you don’t want Harry to spend money on something he doesn’t need. And you’re not about to recommend he do something you wouldn’t do, right?
The friend: Right.
F&I manager: I’m glad to hear that. We don’t want him to either. So this is an agreement that allows you to assume financial responsibility for any repairs on Harry’s car for the next seven years, provide him with substitute transportation if his car is inoperable, cover any deficiency in the event his vehicle is stolen or declared a total loss, and reimburse him for his insurance deductible. Are you willing to accept financial responsibility for these costs on his behalf?
The friend: No way!
F&I manager: I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t either. It’s too much risk. That’s why this protection is absolutely critical. As long as he has a car payment, even one repair could be financially devastating. In fact, the lender feels this protection is so important, they’re willing to advance the funds to allow Harry to obtain the coverage. And the last thing you’d ever want is for your advice to cost Harry money, damage his credit or jeopardize your friendship, am I right?
The friend: That’s true.
Kyle, thanks for your question. Your YETI is on the way! You can watch the video response to Kyle’s question and check out the Compton Hill Water Tower on my blog at www.fi-magazine.com. And don’t forget to submit your own video for a chance to get your question answered and a free YETI! Until next month, remember, it’s a beautiful day to help a customer … and save a friendship!
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: go-reahard.com/ask-ron/
Ronald J. Reahard