I always hated report card day in school, as I dreaded the looming possibility of bringing home an “F” in subjects I hated, like math and English. Yes, I admit it. I was a lazy student. I hated wasting time listening to some half-interesting teacher drone on about prepositional phrases or the square root of pi.
It was much more fun daydreaming about flying my kite, reading comic books, or riding my bike. It was because of my lack of interest that I struggled trying to stay above a C average. Perhaps the real motivation for not having flunked many subjects was the punishment my mom would dole out.
"The reason we get so wound up about F customers is we’re serious about what we do, and we arm ourselves with all sorts of catchy objection-handling phrases. These seem to work wonders on all the other customer types, but not F types. Part of our frustration is we see the same need for our products in Fs as with everyone else."
No one likes to bomb with a failing grade in anything they do, but sometimes it happens. And when it does, we shouldn’t get bummed out. Instead, we should look for the reason for our failure and learn a lesson from it. And there is no more reliable source of failure in the F&I office than dealing with the “We never buy this stuff” customer.
“F” customers are pretty easy to pick out. In fact, you don’t even need to try and categorize them, because they’ll do it for you. One of the first signs they’ll give is shaking their heads as you begin your presentation, followed by a declaration of “We never buy any of this stuff, so don’t waste your time.”
Here are some other dead giveaways:
- “All we want is the car — nothing else.”
- “Do people really buy this crap?”
- “I’ll just take my chances. Aside from minor issues, I haven’t had a car repair in 20 years.”
- “If this car starts giving me problems, I’ll just trade it in and get something else.”
- “Is this thing a piece of junk? Should I be worried? Maybe I don’t need to be buying it if it’s not going to last beyond the factory warranty.”
- “Dave Ramsey says I shouldn’t buy this and I’ll take his word for it.”
- “I’m paying cash, so I can afford the repairs if it breaks.”
I could go on and on, and you probably have plenty to add yourself.
Tony Dupaquier, F&I trainer and executive director of The Academy, will tell you that F customers are actually only about 10% of your sales opportunities. The percentage seems much higher, and that’s because we remember them. They haunt us on the way home after a long day and sometimes late into the night. Heck, I’ve even dreamed of some. It’s hard to shake them. You can beat yourself up wondering what else you could’ve done or said.
Here’s a hint: nothing.
The reason we get so wound up about F customers is we’re serious about what we do, and we arm ourselves with all sorts of catchy objection-handling phrases. These seem to work wonders on all the other customer types, but not F types. Part of our frustration is we see the same need for our products in Fs as with everyone else.
Problem is, they simply aren’t interested.
The thing to always remember is that customers don’t really buy F&I products because of our award-winning personality. They buy because they realize they need what we’re offering and will find a way to budget for it. F customers, on the other hand, can be cornered into agreeing the products have value but simply aren’t willing to pay for extras.
The best thing you can do when F leaves your office is to mentally flip that toilet lever on the side of your head and flush that deal away. Because the next customer may be ready to sign off on your platinum package. If you’re still brooding about how troublesome that F was, I promise you it will carry into your next presentation.
I’ll tell you this much, that F customer isn’t worried about why he or she didn’t buy a VSC. So why waste the mental energy you could be using for the next customer?
Listen, I’m not telling you to roll over when you meet an F. No sir. I’m telling you to present your products with the same enthusiasm you’d have if you expected him or her to buy. After you’ve addressed a couple of the reasons why the F isn’t buying, then finish up.
Just because the customer is an F doesn’t mean you have to be. The real report card you’re going to turn in at the end of the month doesn’t have to include a single failing grade — unless you decide it should. Professionals know how to mentally and emotionally shake off these difficult types. So get out there and start focusing on how successful your month is going to be rather than the small amount of Fs you’ll meet.
Good luck and keep closing.
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected].