“It’s the same but different” is how one source described the difference between automotive F&I and powersports F&I. Another placed a choice adjective before the word “stepchild” when describing the segment. What I see is opportunity.

Welcome to the inaugural issue of PowerSports F&I. I know most of you don’t move enough metal to warrant a dedicated F&I office. And I understand that many of you have sales guys and gals pulling double duty. We’re going to try and convince you otherwise, but we’ll also help to educate your salespeople in the meantime. Why? Because it is our belief that F&I is truly an untapped revenue stream.

That’s why Bobit Business Media is excited about this newest publication. It’s not often that one gets a chance to virtually create and shape an industry, which is what I hear we’re kind of doing.

And our commitment is strong. Heck, we’re so committed that we’ve added a dedicated PowerSports F&I Conference to our annual F&I Conference and Expo. It’s scheduled for Sept. 16-17 at the Paris Las Vegas Hotel. Check it out by going to www.fi-conference.com.

Listen, it’s clear, at least by the statistics I’ve seen, how small of an impression F&I has made on this side of the fence. And that’s why we’ve collected some of the top experts in the F&I field to help change that. And quite frankly, this is the time to do it.

I know there were some positive signs for sales heading into 2007, but that certainly changed by the end of the year, right? And it seems sales have worsened, with recent statistics from the Motorcycle Industry Council showing sales of motorcycles, ATVs and scooters down more than 15 percent through March.

And that’s why a commitment to F&I is needed. I understand that many of the heavy hitters on the lending side are backing off this segment. And even when they were here, many tended to lean toward the big cruisers rather than sport bikes and ATVs.

But hey, credit is a concern whether it’s revolving or non-revolving. Companies are tightening guidelines and are being more watchful of how credit is being used. That’s why an F&I manager is so important.

Today’s dealership needs a professional to explore what lending options are available. Heck, did you know that credit unions looked to offset lower vehicle sales last year by growing loan portfolios through new channels such as yours. In fact, credit unions funded more than 10,000 loans for recreational vehicles, watercraft and motorcycles in 2007, with the average loan amount for these vehicles ranging between $6,830 for all-terrain vehicles to $25,039 for boats.

And just look at what F&I has done for automotive. Faced with sagging sales last year, many automotive dealerships turned to F&I to help offset weak new-vehicle sales. In fact, F&I was the saving grace last year for major dealer groups such as Asbury Automotive, Group 1 and Sonic Automotive Inc.

What you need to do is stop thinking of financing as a nice service for your customers. Dealer financing is a product that needs to be sold by someone who can sell intangible products. In fact, dealer financing should be part of a menu presentation that includes those other intangible products, such as a vehicle service contract and GAP.

Listen, fear of compliance should not be an excuse not to sell F&I products. Heck, auto dealers learned after years of dealing with new laws and regulations that compliance can actually be a dealership’s best selling tool. What’s needed is a commitment. And trust me when I say that there are several major solution providers waiting for this industry to make one. Hopefully we can do it together.

 

 

 

 

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