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F&I Manager Helping Car Sales during Covid

How Can F&I Help Support Successful Contactless Transactions?

Today, it’s more important than ever to help your customers feel safe when interacting with your business. That’s why contactless payments are rapidly growing in popularity. In fact, if you don’t offer this option to your customers, it could actually lead them to choose another company that does. This is important for all types of businesses, particularly automobile dealerships. Although many customers don’t necessarily pay via a credit or debit card, giving them the option of contactless payment is essential. The field of automotive finance and insurance is unique, but contactless payment options can still be a valuable asset. The following will show you how your finance and insurance department can make contactless transactions a successful commodity.

A Decline in Sales

Since the Covid-19 pandemic ground the economy practically to a halt, the automotive industry has seen a dramatic decline in automotive sales. There are many reasons for this, including the unwillingness of individuals to go out to interact with others, as well as job loss and other economic factors that made it difficult for individuals to even think about buying a new car. While 24 states allowed their dealerships to remain open, it created many challenges to try to keep the business afloat. About 23 states allow online or remote sales options, which have had a positive impact on car sales, but this is still only about half of the country. While contactless transactions may not be the wave of the future for the automotive industry, it’s evident they will be around for at least the near future as the country struggles to get the pandemic under control while maintaining the economy. Therefore, it’s a necessity for automotive dealerships to at least consider the option to give them a boost in their sales.

According to IHS Markit, the projected sales of cars around the world for 2020 is projected to be down 22 percent, selling just 70.3 million units in comparison to other years. They have projected car sales in the United States will fall overall to 26.6 percent, or about 12.5 million vehicles sold for the year. This is the lowest number since the previous market crash in 2010 where sales fell to just 11.6 million vehicles.

This Is Where F&I Can Step in with Contactless Transactions

One of the backbones of the automotive sales industry is the finance and insurance departments. These parts of a dealership ensure car buyers can get behind the wheel of the car they want for an affordable monthly price and they have the insurance needed to stay legal on the road. This is also where cash needs to change hands, which is why it’s essential for car dealerships to look into options for contactless payments. While many other industries entered the online marketplace years ago, car dealerships have had limited interactions with their customers through their websites. Auto dealership websites were typically places individuals could look at a dealer’s stock and decide which cars they were interested in before visiting the dealership. They still had to go in for a test drive and to file the paperwork for the required financing and insurance. This all needs to change given the current state of affairs in the country.

At the dealership, the main goal has always been to match car buyers with a vehicle that meets their needs and their budget. However, dealerships also have a reputation of hard selling or even upselling, which has sometimes left a bad taste in consumers’ mouths. The use of online sales can actually help overcome these perceptions, even if they didn’t apply to your dealership, even before the pandemic. Providing online access to calculators and financing options allows your buyers to not only find the vehicle they want to take home through your website, but also to complete many of the other necessary steps to complete the purchase. They can still be presented with all of the options, such as extended warranties, service contracts and more, all without the pressure they may feel if they’re sitting in the F&I office face-to-face with your professionals. It allows them to feel more in control. While they always could turn down these offer, it’s often more difficult to do so when you’re sitting in an office with a person.

With as many as 87% of car buyers feeling pressured at the car dealership, being able to offer these options online can be a valuable asset and can turn around this perception. This can turn into even more sales than you previously achieved, which will help give your auto dealership a much needed boost in a time when many industries are struggling to stay afloat and keep the economy running in a positive direction. Consumers won’t have to make an on-the-sport decision. They can research their options and take the time to select the ones they feel will be the most beneficial to not only their needs, but their budget as well. They will be much more likely to complete the sale when they feel more in control of the decision-making process.

Completing the Transaction Away from the Dealership

Another area where your finance and insurance department can truly shine is on the closing of the sale. How can you possibly complete a transaction like a car sale without in-person contact? While it’s true the consumer must still pick up the car or it needs to be delivered to their location, there are a lot of things your auto dealership can do to make this process fast and easy for your customers. With the ability to sign document digitally, consumers can now complete all of the paperwork they need to transfer ownership, register the vehicle, sign up for insurance and qualify for financing without having to leave their homes. Everything can be done through electronic forms with e-signatures that hold up legally just as well as signing a regular sheet of paper. Your staff will be able to review documents with consumers through an Internet connection and complete everything necessary to sign off on the sale without ever making physical contact with the buyer. However, you will need to take the time to set up a reliable, robust digital system to make it happen. Once that’s in place, the transaction process will become that much easier for everyone involved.

Even though this new normal is driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, the implications and benefits of moving to a digital platform for contactless transactions can have long-term effects on your business. Even when things return to a semblance of the old normal, you will still be able to offer these options to make the car buying process less stressful and smoother for your customers, which can go a long way toward giving your auto dealership the boost it needs to be successful going into the future. Your F&I employees will continue to have options to work at home as needed and consumers will be able to purchase their next car without the stress of dealing with a salesperson in person. Even after people are more willing to head out and interact with others, it’s a valuable option many people will continue to use and rely on. Not only will it help set customers at ease and help them feel more in control of their car buying decisions, but it will also help build a new level of trust in your car dealership that will last a lifetime.

Times have changed and it’s important for all industries, particularly car dealerships, to embrace those changes and ensure consumers have their needs met in a way that’s convenient and safe for them. Contactless transactions are an important part of this process. Whether individuals are simply wary of the effects of the pandemic or they never felt comfortable sitting in the F&I office at a dealership to complete the car-buying process, everyone will gain the benefits of contactless transactions and a smoother way of buying their next new vehicle.