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Make Your F&I Department Customer-Friendly

If you ask anyone what their least favorite part of buying a new or used car is, it’s dealing with the financing and insurance process that comes along with buying a vehicle.  Many people are concerned with feeling pressured into something the don’t want or feeling like they have to make a fast decision. The good news is there are things you can do to eliminate some of that frustration and provide your customers with a friendlier experience. When you take the time to give your customers the best experience possible, chances are they will return to you when they need another vehicle and they may even recommend you to their family and friends in search of a vehicle. The following tips will help you make your automotive finance and insurance department more customer-friendly.

Get Rid of the Papers

The last thing your customers want to do after shopping for a vehicle is to sit down and go through a huge stack of papers. This process often makes individuals feel like they’re signing their life away, which can lead to frustration and even irritation, making the process more stressful for everyone involved. One of the best things you can do for your customers is to transition to a digital system, allowing your customers to view all of the necessary paperwork through an Internet-enabled device and signing digitally to save time. In fact, you can even complete credit checks through secure digital apps.

Not only will you be able to save your customers the time and energy of going through tedious paperwork, but you’ll be doing your part to save the environment. It’s also easier to create a digital filing system so you can find any paperwork easily at a future date. This greatly streamlines the F&I process, allowing you to focus more on providing your customers with the high level of service they deserve.

However, this doesn’t mean you should get rid of all the paperwork. Keeping brochures around allows your customers to learn more about the vehicle they are buying, as well as services your dealership offers while they wait for the results of their financing application. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Have a Conversation with Your Customers

The biggest mistake dealerships often make with their customers is going straight for the sales pitch. The last thing your customers want is to feel like you’re trying to hard sell them on products and services they feel they don’t need. Buying a vehicle is expensive as it is, the last thing people want to do is spend more money than they were planning by the time they leave the dealership. Many dealership push extended warranties, window tinting, VIN laser etching and more, leading customers to feel as if they are just a bank account to their customers.

The best way to combat this feeling with your customers is to start a genuine conversation with them. Instead of throwing a bunch of services and numbers at them, talk about the benefits of the various services and add-ons you have to offer and how it can help them in the long run. Let them ask questions and avoid making them feel like you’re using pressure tactics or that they have to buy these things. When provided with valid information about the add-ons and letting them know why they may want to consider it will allow them to process that information and make an informed decision for themselves.When you give your customers the time to process the information, they can ask any questions they may have and prioritize what they can afford to add on to the purchase price of their vehicle.

Train Your Staff

The most important part of making your F&I department more friendly for your customers is training your employees on the best way to handle customers and make them feel as if their input matters. While a dealership can offer this training to their employees on-site, the best way to handle it is to find a school that offers the professional training your F&I employees require. The Automotive Dealership Institute, for instance, is one of the only schools that offers a program like this, providing your employees with the reliable training they need to provide the best customer service experience to keep your customers coming back to you.

Without the proper training, your F&I staff could miss essential selling points, as well as important parts of the process that can leave your customers missing out. F&I training teaches your employees how to use a digital format, they will have a full menu in front of them so they can easily go through the process step by step to ensure nothing is overlooked in the process. Customers will enjoy a higher quality of service and feel confident you took all the steps necessary to complete the sale seamlessly.

Providing your customers with a seamless, stress-free and low-pressure sales process will help them feel confident when they buy a vehicle from you. Not only will they enjoy a better car-buying experience, but they’ll be far more likely to return to your dealership for service and when they’re ready to buy another vehicle. On top of that, it’s more likely they will recommend your dealership to their family and friends because of their positive experience.

If you’re looking for the best place to train your employees in the automotive F&I department, the Automotive Dealership Institute is your best option. We are proud to offer convenient courses that allow individuals to learn the best ways to serve your customers, including the use of digital technology to make the sales process go as smoothly as possible. After all, the faster you are able to get your customers on the road with their new vehicle, the happier they will be. Contact us today to talk about our course offerings and put your team on the fast track to success.

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3 Ways to Be a Better F&I Manager

There are steps you can take to separate yourself from the herd as an F&I manager. It’s really just a thin line between being average and being top-notch. And it all comes down to the process you incorporate on a daily basis. Topnotch F&I managers that rise to the top follow a proven formula that results in a collectively big difference. As the economy continues to struggle from the pandemic, customers will start to scrutinize purchases and think twice before buying.  This makes it critical for F&I managers to hone their skills in order to create more revenue for a dealership. Here’ 3 smart steps to take to become the best F&I manager for your dealership.

Get the Best Professional Training

Think about it. The best professional athletes train with the best coaches. Ivy league universities employ brilliant professors to teach at their schools. Following that line, F&I managers should train with a world-class F&I training program. It primes you for the real world. Our world-class training programs have years of automotive experience. The best F&I training is the most important decision that an aspiring and current F&I manager can make for their whole career. Training will help you be the best F&I manager and Automotive Dealership Institute is here to help!

Follow a Formula

You’re only as good as the procedure in your playbook. And you’ve got to follow the given procedure. A proven and repeatable formula will lead to success. If you don’t follow the procedure, you’ll wind up with a different result. It’s just like a recipe for a dish. Change some of the ingredients, and you’ll get a different dish. Often, it won’t taste that as good, and it’s just mediocre. The formula to follow is straightforward. A professional environment plus a proper explanation of benefits plus unbiased information equals a profit in the finance office. Don’t deviate from the formula, and you’ll yield good results.

Unbiased information is all about how the customer feels about your selling methods. Are you selling them or informing them? A proper explanation of benefits centers on the features and benefits of what you’re selling. Are you more focused on the features than the benefits for the customer? A benefit is how the product affects the customer. It’s benefits that sell not the features. People want to know what a product can do for them.

Keep it Professional and Positive

Maintain a Professional Environment and get rid of all the sales gimmicks. Ditch them all. The atmosphere of your dealership shouldn’t resemble that of a timeshare sale. The formula to use is unbiased information, proper explanation of benefits and a professional atmosphere.

Keep it positive. Both negativity and positivity are contagious. You’ll definitely want to go with positivity. Research has shown that happiness spreads like a virus. Infect your customers with happiness. Even if you’ve been down from a stroke of some bad luck, keep it positive with both colleagues and customers. Speak positive thoughts, uplift your coworkers and even take the sales team out for a good lunch. All of these actions will positively affect those around you. It will also affect you in your attitude.

So, how do you become the very best F&I manager? Get professional training to hone your craft, follow the proven formula and be a positive voice at work. Others will certainly notice the vibe.

 

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.