Like Forrest Gump’s mama said, “Stupid is as stupid does.” In the F&I office, simple is as simple does. When we get too smart for our own good and overthink the process, we make simple things needlessly complicated, and our productivity suffers as a result.
Don’t get me wrong, I know F&I managers do need to be “smart,” but high intelligence can sometimes prove more a disability than a solution — particularly in a time-compressed environment. Giving way too much thought to what we should be saying and in what order with the right emphasis tends to bring on overthinking.
The transition to the menu is a perfect example. Far too many trainers have a tendency to over-train the idea of a formal interview. For those who like to defend this outdated practice, the “conversational” approach is applied, all in the name of “building rapport,” as though customers are interested in getting to know you as an F&I professional.
In truth, customers could care less. All they want is to speed through the process in your office as fast as possible. Listen, most customers already know what a service contract is and how GAP works, because most people have bought these protections in the past. You’re not going to wow them with a custom-designed menu presentation because you extracted their driving habits.
My advice is to try focusing on saving time by learning a smooth and easy transition process that works for you, using your own words. And there’s nothing magical or mystical about it, either. It’s just a simple, easy-to-master step of casually bridging the gap between the introduction and the menu.
Since the meet-and-greet in the salesperson’s office is a great icebreaker and a good way to collect any missing or incorrect data, returning to get the customer for the menu presentation should flow naturally. After bringing the customer in and offering water or coffee, it’s time to get to work. Even though the customer has already committed to buying the car, it’s always a good idea to review what’s been discussed on the sales floor.
“I always like to take a moment and review the terms you’ve already agreed to with your salesperson to make sure there is no confusion,” I tell my customers. As you pull out the buyer’s order, you might want to begin your dialogue with, “Let’s see, the agreed-upon price for the vehicle between you and the salesperson is $21,500, and trade plus all other fees is $24,250. Is this correct?”
Make certain they agree and, if not, get clarification before continuing. Then review any other necessary items, such as payoff and down payment amounts. If a payment has been quoted, review that as well.
Next, bring out the risk-based pricing or credit score disclosure notice and review it with the customer. “Next thing is the matter of your credit score. And I’d like to show it to you at this time.” Have them sign it.
Then it’s time for the menu presentation. “And, finally, I’d like to introduce you to various repayment options as well as ways to protect your purchase.” Nothing fancy, just roll through it package by package. Use brief descriptions, keep the customer engaged, and make certain they understand.
These are simple steps that don’t require deep thinking. In fact, overthinking the transition and trying to impress a customer should be avoided. Remember, your job is to make a professional presentation armed with facts and knowledge of the products. You are trying to help customers make the right buying decision for themselves — not “sell” them.
Making things simple is one of the most important secrets to F&I success. Customers are regular people, just like your friends, your family and your next-door neighbors. The best way to talk to customers and transition to the menu is to keep the presentation and the process as simple and easy to understand as possible.
Imagine if a family member asked how you do this. Would you get all technical and wordy? Probably not, and that’s my point. Simple is as simple does. Good luck and keep closing!
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected]