For those old enough to remember going to a Blockbuster store to rent a movie, you might remember how powerless it was to wait in line and try to get information from an employee. If you wanted to watch a good movie, the process was far from simple. F&I offices of the past entertained customers in a similar environment. The F&I manager knew everything about the products, the prices, and the benefits. Most employed a feature, advantage, and benefits presentation as customers sat in awe of all the information only available in an F&I office. Times have changed. Now customers are loaded up with data from Google, and it is readily available from the device in the palm of their hand. As trusted agents and coaches, how do we help our F&I teams handle the well-informed buyer? Great question.
As trusted agents and coaches, how do we help our F&I teams handle the well-informed buyer?
Empowerment Without Insight Leads to Disaster
Customers have a bounty of information at their disposal. However, they lack the understanding and insight into what those products mean to them. One great example is the dramatic increase in the use of technology to make vehicles more efficient, reliable, and safe. We are one step away from a completely autonomous vehicle. Customers demand the newest technology in the cars they buy as they do their cell phones and TVs.
A recent comment concerning a Ford truck stated, “what points and condensers used to do, now is handled by five computers that communicate on three distinct networks inside your truck.” We know it would be much less expensive to replace points and condensers than a computer. However, is a Ford customer being made aware of that? That is a valuable insight. A Subaru breakthrough in safety is their EyeSight system that uses two cameras mounted in the windshield to activate safety features to a dangerous situation that the driver might miss. Does it cause the cost of replacing a windshield to skyrocket? It creates the need for windshield repair or replacement coverage to increase dramatically.
Agents must provide a challenge for F&I professionals to dig deeper and find insight into what has changed about a vehicle's paint, tires, wheels, and mechanical operation. What happens when the newest technology fails, and how much does it cost to replace it? Of course, we don't repair a vehicle anymore; we replace the failed part. However, many customers are not aware of that. They need the insight of a well-studied, well-coached F&I manager. Challenge your F&I teams to move beyond providing information. Instead, have them develop insightful perspectives that will tell the customer what this means to you.
Listen to Understand, Not to Reply
The onslaught of information available to customers has changed the conversation in the F&I office. A Blockbuster process requires a long wait for the customer to seek information from the provider. It views the customer talking as an interruption of the spewing of features and benefits. Meanwhile, a Netflix process seeks information and provides insight into what the customer wants and needs. The information offered is designed to benefit the customer. When a customer sees that you are listening so you can understand how best to help them, they open up and tell you more information, and they trust you to guide them through the many choices they face. That sounds like an excellent outcome for everyone involved.
This information should be on what all the newest technological developments mean to a customer and how much it can cost to replace. Insight presentations are today; features and benefits presentation are so yesterday. And hopefully will soon be as hard to find as a Blockbuster store.
Rick McCormick is the national account development manager for Reahard & Associates, which provides customized F&I training for dealerships throughout the U.S. and Canada. He has more than 20 years of auto retail and finance experience.
Read: Three Invaluable Principles Of F&I Success!
Originally posted on Agent Entrepreneur
See all comments