Pros are always looking for an edge by picking up new closes or tweaking the ones they already use. That thirst for knowledge keeps driving them forward. So, a few weeks ago, I decided to launch a conversation on the Ethical F&I Managers Facebook group to get some real-world examples. The responses were quick and chock full of wisdom — so much so that we don’t have enough room to publish them all.
With thanks to everyone who participated, here is a short list of some of your responses:
Cary Russell: Customer: “I’ve always been lucky and never needed any of this.” F&I manager: “Mr. Customer that’s awesome. But for just a moment, think about everything bad that’s happened to you. Did you ever plan on it? Wouldn’t you agree that just X dollars a month is an inexpensive way to plan for it?”
Wayne Pawlowski on “fixed vs. variable” payment or cash amount: “With additional coverage, your payment is X dollars per month. Without coverage, your payment is X dollars plus each expense you may incur. Doesn’t it make more sense to have a fixed budget?”
Francis Balderston: Customer: “We didn’t have [a service contract] on our 10-year-old car.” F&I manager: “Totally understand. I also never got them before recently. But cars have changed a lot in 10 years. Now instead of a totally mechanical car, multiple computers run your vehicle. Personally, I wouldn’t expect my computer or phone to work if I left it outside for 24 hours. Would you?”
Dina Gilbert Wilson: Everyone knows that you have an amount set before going into Walmart, but you find other things that you “like” and come out spending more! I always ask, “How much do you tell yourself you are going to spend, and then how much did you spend when you came out?” Gets them thinking!
Walt Dobrowski: I’m all for getting your customer to touch, feel, smell, taste, and see what it would be without the protection. Paint a scenario.
Teasha McMillion on the dollar bill close: Pull out a dollar and mention that it is a just a bit over 2.5 inches tall. “Mr. Customer, those awesome low-profile tires are about the same height as this dollar bill, and most of the potholes around here are deeper than that! So when your tire and rim come into contact with one, what do you think the likelihood of damage to one or both is?”
Scott Greenwood: As Teasha said, “Tell, don’t sell.” Something about your presentation isn’t connecting to your customer.
Andy Choate: Before bringing the customer into the office, I like to do a walkaround with them. Point out specific areas of the vehicle, such as the low-profile wheels and tires, reminding them to be careful when parking near curbs and going through the ATM drive. This gives them a real-life visual when we go over products.
Drew Nicastro: I like closing on paint, fabric, and rust by telling people it is somewhat like lending the money to yourself. When you come back to trade the vehicle, you can push to get closer to retail on your trade because it is in better-than-average condition and has been fully protected. You then reap the rewards when looking for that next vehicle.
Josh Trammel: “Mr. Customer, two-thirds of the dealership is dedicated to parts and service, as is every manufacturer’s dealership. With that said, we aren’t only performing $50 to $100 oil changes.”
Jeff Barron on the lightbulb close: Paint the picture of today’s complex components. They are much like lightbulbs, which don’t give us any indication if, when, or how they fail, except you need it the most when it’s dark — just like a breakdown.
John Vecchioni: “When you buy GAP from your insurance company, you are putting all your eggs in one basket. A total loss creates two claims which, when used, can increase your premium or, worse, cancel you. It simply takes away your ability to be diversified. In other words, your insurance could fix your vehicle while saving them money on a GAP claim. Don’t lose control of your ability to spread risk by having a separate GAP company.”
Jean-Paul Griffith on the difficult spouse close: “When something has gone wrong in the past, has your husband/wife ever asked, ‘How much is that going to cost us?’ Well, it’s worth it to be fully protected. You can then say, ‘Honey, it’s covered. Don’t worry about it.’”
Jeff Lassman: “The technology in your car is more like a smartphone or iPad than ever before. We get a new phone every couple of years, but we keep our cars much longer than that.”
I’m sure you can add to this list and I’d love to hear from you in the comments sections. So, until next month, good luck and keep closing.
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected].