Sharing the experience of your customer discovering the moment of value in which the product or guarantee you sold them four or five years ago pays off is one of the most rewarding parts of working in F&I — especially when they didn’t think they needed that coverage in the first place.
We Treat Friends Like Customers
I went to high school with a woman who started buying cars from me more than 10 years ago, at the first dealership I worked for. She and her husband have sent his parents in, along with her parents, her stepparents, and their friends. They are a really great couple and wonderful people who are like walking ambassadors for me and my dealership.
In 2014, they were ready for a new car. We quickly settled on a new GMC Acadia, and then it was time to complete the necessary paperwork and review available options. So there I was in the situation that we in the car business always hate: sitting across from friends and family in the F&I office.
We want to sell our products. We know they need them. And they know we need to sell them, but they don’t want to be sold. It’s sometimes more awkward than presenting to a total stranger, at least in my experience.
My friend’s husband is in the insurance business. In fact, he is a high-ranking executive and the principal risk engineer at his firm. If anyone understands the value of insurance (or “extended warranties,” in his words), it’s this guy. He just needed to know how vehicle service contracts work.
So I filled him in, stressing the growing complexity and expense of onboard computers, high-tech features, sensors, switches, diodes, and touchscreens. When these systems fail, I explained, they are replacing parts and components, not repairing them. They opted for five-year/100,000-mille exclusionary bumper-to-bumper coverage.
This Is Our Moment
Fast-forward to 2018. I’m sitting at my desk. My Facebook Messenger lights up, then my phone. The Acadia has sprung a leak in the evaporative cooler and it’s a $1,400 repair — that won’t cost them a dime. The contract only cost them $1,500 (I gave them a screamer on the price) and they still have coverage for one more year.
Later, when I spoke with my friend’s husband by phone, he said, “I remember when I was sitting across the desk from you and you were telling us how much you believed in the value of the VSC and why we need one, and I was reluctant, because I never buy these things. I am really grateful you convinced us to add that coverage. At the time, I didn’t think we really needed it, but I trust you, and I am really glad we listened.”
Who comes out ahead on this deal? We all do. My customers were happily taken care of at the time they needed help the most. I got to experience the validation of confirming the repair was covered and the service contract would perform just as I had said it would four years ago.
I always tell friends and family members they should seriously consider the vehicle service contract — not only because I believe in the value that it provides but, quite frankly, I know I am the one who is going to take the phone call when a part, component, or system fails. I want to be able to say, with confidence, “Relax. You’re covered,” then get them a loaner and get them back on the road.
This solidifies our relationship with the customer and their relationship with the dealership. That is how we build businesses that can continue to grow well into the future!
Justin Gasman is an ACE- and AFIP master-certified financial services director at McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC in Boulder, Colo. Contact him at [email protected]