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10 Tips to Being a Successful F&I Manager

Successful F&I managers know that they can always make improvements and constantly look for ways to become more efficient and effective. They know that every failure is an opportunity to learn how to succeed and they will learn from every interaction they have with a customer. The most successful F&I managers have a lot in common with each other, and these tips will help you step up your game and become the best manager possible.

Have Fun at Work

People feel much more comfortable interacting with you if you are in a good mood. They will be more compelled to trust you and agree with you if you can make them laugh and find common ground. If you are bored, stressed, or frustrated, this will come through in your body language and facial expressions. Find ways to make your work fun not only for you, but for your customers, and you will notice the difference in your closing rate.

Recognize the Talent Around You

It is easy for pride to take hold when you meet a problem or challenge that is beyond your skills or knowledge. What can really help you is to utilize the talent that you have on your team and lean on other peoples’ strengths. Do not be afraid to take advice from other people or to look at a situation from someone else’s vantage point. One of your team members could present a ground-breaking idea that will transform your way of doing business in the future.

Help Others Succeed in Their Roles

When representatives are at odds with one another, it can have a negative impact on sales in general. If your sales representatives do not have the tools needed to generate leads and sales, you will have fewer opportunities for yourself. Lending a hand to other people on your team and showing those people that you want them to succeed will ultimately generate good karma for you over the long haul. Remember that if you help someone else make sales, it will generate sales for you as well.

Strive to Improve Regardless of Your Success

Successful F&I managers know that they can always do better, and they hold themselves accountable. Even when they had an easy close, they look over the paperwork at the end and run through the encounter in their mind to determine if there was something they could have done differently. Since no F&I manager has a 100% close rate, every single manager can improve. The effective ones know this and place a priority on personal development and learning.

Stay Positive Even When Times are Tough

If you are too aggressive with a customer, that person will feel the desperation in your tone and words. Some F&I managers may find themselves in a rut and then try to climb out of it by trying too hard with the customers they have. Successful F&I managers know that they will encounter slow sales periods, and they recognize that coming booms will right the ship for them. As long as you do not panic and simply remain positive and calm, the sales will follow.

Focus Less on Yourself

As stated above, the success of others will contribute to your own. If you ignore the needs of others on your team and always place your own success ahead of theirs, it will bring down morale. If you do not make a point of helping your sales representatives, they will leave you for greener pastures. You need to recognize the value of your team and place other people ahead of you to guarantee you will have a steady flow of opportunities for everyone.

Customers are keen to detect a greedy F&I manager as well. If you are focused on what you have to gain from each sale rather than sending the customer home happy, it will be noticed. This can result in lost sales, negative reviews, and fewer opportunities in the future if those customers tell their friends and families about a poor experience with your store.

Take Care of Your Office Staff

Accounting is an under-appreciated department at an automotive dealership. However, the people who work in accounting are also very crucial to your own success. Going the extra mile with them to make them feel appreciated will pay dividends. Making sure to be thankful is a good step, but consider ways to make their lives easier. Giving them rewards for good work, buying them lunch, and finding ways to recognize their achievements will make their lives easier, making yours easier in return.

Be Proud of What You Do

Innovations in technology and increased competition have transformed the automotive industry. Regardless of the opinions people have about car sales, things have changed over the last decade. Many of those changes have benefited employees and the customers that you serve. Promoting what you do is important to your success, so find ways to interact with the community.

Determine What You are Working For

Everyone has something that drives them. Successful F&I managers know that they are working for something. It could be that you want to provide a stable and secure life for your family, that you want to be able to afford to see the world, or that you have a charitable cause you want to get behind. Know what it is that you want to achieve and set goals for yourself so that you are driven to succeed.

Don’t Treat Working as Just a Job

You go to work every day with the same purpose in mind, but you shouldn’t just be working for the sake of work. F&I should be more than work and should be something that you enjoy doing. Dedicate yourself to what it is that you do for your team and customers, and you will find that your drive to be good at what you do alone is fueling improvements in your performance.

Want to Become an F&I Manager? Learn More About Our Training Program

People come to the Automotive Dealership Institute from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter whether you have any experience in the auto industry or not. As long as you have a good attitude, work well with people, and a drive to learn and improve, you can be a successful F&I manager. Fill out our online contact form or give us a call today at 877-998-7200 to learn more about our training program.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of an Automotive F&I Manager?

F&I stands for finance and insurance in the automotive industry. F&I managers usually work in a dealership’s F&I department (also sometimes referred to as a business office). It is through the F&I department that vehicle loans along with any optional financial or insurance add-ons are marketed to the dealership’s customers. Keep reading to learn more about the role of a dealership’s F&I department and the roles that an F&I manager plays in the dealership’s success.

How Important Is the F&I Department?

Without an F&I department or F&I manager, many auto lots and dealerships wouldn’t be successful. Just because someone agrees to buy a vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean they can pay the full asking price before driving the car off the lot. Because of this, and to protect the dealership’s best interest while also increasing incoming revenue, many auto lots offer financing resources; this financing often comes through third parties, such as banks and auto loan lenders. When dealerships connect customers with these banks and loan lenders, it becomes much more likely for a completed sale to take place. Ultimately, by offering F&I services, the dealership’s best interest is protected thanks to banks and auto lenders covering the cost of a purchased vehicle while still taking on the risk of not receiving the loan paid in full by the loan holder.

The success of most automotive dealerships depends on the F&I department and its managers. 

As the automotive dealership industry continues to evolve, so has the role of F&I managers. The sole responsibility of the F&I manager is to protect a dealer from financial harm when selling new or used inventory. To ensure this goal is met, the F&I manager must establish a vast network of financial resources that the dealership can tap into to help customers buy the vehicles they want. The F&I manager does much more than help secure financing resources for the dealer. He or she also leverages tactics to sell optional protective options to customers as a way to establish additional income streams for the dealer.

What Do Dealers Look for in F&I Managers?

It requires a vast knowledgebase of various roles to succeed in the primary role of an F&I manager. Many dealers require F&I managers to have at least two years of experience in automotive sales along with certification from an F&I training program. Most dealers also mandate F&I managers to have significant experience in managerial roles; however, some dealers do prefer filling F&I positions with someone who has no prior managerial experience but is ready to accept such a role. Two of the most pertinent skills needed for an F&I manager to be successful are clear communication and advanced organizational capabilities.

What Is the Most Important Skill Needed By an F&I Manager?

Dealers don’t want to hire F&I managers that they can’t trust. This is why honesty and integrity are cornerstones of the value of F&I managers. The tasks that F&I managers perform to be incredibly extensive and particularly demanding. With the overall purpose being to protect the dealership, including its owners, from any legal issues, the role of the F&I manager becomes all the more important. To do this, F&I managers must always make sure that the customers and financial entities they work with are really who they claim to be.

If an F&I cannot clearly communicate with customers in such a way that they understand each and every detail of the contracts they sign with the dealer or financing agency, then a dealer will likely lose out on sales as well as face a higher risk of financial loss.

Regular Job Duties of an F&I Manager

Most F&I managers spend their time performing multiple tasks throughout the workday. Much time is typically spend providing thorough explanations to customers regarding the protection programs offered by the dealer (these programs are usually offered through vehicle service contracts). There’s also a lot of time explaining to customers what the APR and any finance charges will be if the customer qualifies for a loan. Very crucial to the manager’s role is the discussion of any disclosures that exist in the contract being signed by the dealer and customer and any involved financial entities.

When not interacting with customers, F&I managers spend their time building and maintaining relationships with various lending institutions and insurance vendors. These managers also take on the responsibility of creating and providing training to the sales team regarding the available lease and finance programs that can be mentioned when selling to a customer.

Also performed by the F&I manager is the task of making sure each and every sale is processed accurately. This requires F&I managers to study and stay up to date on the latest technology and security practices used when processing a deal.

How to Become an F&I Manager?

To become an F&I manager, a person can greatly benefit from going to college and earning a business degree. However, many dealerships don’t necessarily require a formal degree. Instead, they want to see managerial experience and impeccable interpersonal and communication skills in the F&I managers they choose to hire. Because F&I managers have to interact with numerous parties on any given workday, they must exhibit superior and first-class customer service at all times. The dealer’s reputation is often determined by the role of the F&I manager. After all, it’s this manager who interacts with every party involved in a sale.

Do Dealers Train Their F&I Managers?

Ideally, dealerships should hire F&I managers with prior experience in the automotive dealership industry, but no experience isn’t always required. In fact, a lot of dealers prefer to hire F&I managers who have no prior experience. Why? Because this allows them to train the F&I managers according to the dealer’s unique and precise needs.

If you’re thinking about becoming an F&I manager, makes sure to check out the various degree and certification programs available. The more experience you have in F&I, the better as this allows you to expand your ability to offer dealers and customers the best service and options possible, which is a win-win for everyone.

 

image of person on computer for distance learning

The Benefits of Distance Learning For F & I Training in 2021

The entire world is learning to adjust to the global COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020. Many businesses and schools are shuttered and been moved online. Thanks to the advent of the Internet, many of us are still able to participate in learning and the workforce from the comfort of our own homes. We surely couldn’t have done this in the 90s. Shelter-in-place hasn’t been easy as we don’t have access to what we did before the pandemic. We miss dining out, going to concerts, having parties, and traveling, for example.

No one was prepared for the pandemic, and as a result, we have had to take some time to adjust to this “new normal”. At the Automotive Dealership Institute, we pride ourselves on not missing a beat. We’re still educating car salesmen all over the United States through our online program. We believe there are enormous benefits to online learning and for that reason, we’ve taken the time to compile a list of these benefits. Read on to learn more.

Flexibility: Learn Where and When You Want

No matter where you are, as long as you have an Internet connection, you can participate in online learning. This is fantastic because we live in a world that is constantly changing. Whether you like to wake up at the crack of dawn or stay up until the wee hours of the night, you set your own schedule and your own dress code. Participate in learning from the comfort of your own home, or when things reopen, go to a café or library to engage in learning. We’re sure you’ll really want to get out of the house as soon as you can!

Save Time: No More Commuting

The time it takes to commute to a training institute is better spent doing other things, like distance learning from home. You save an enormous amount of time by bypassing a brick and mortar institute for an online program that you can do at your convenience. No more commuting, parking, walking to the institute or stopping for gas on the way home. You set your own schedule, too, so there’s no rushing around like a maniac trying to make it to class on time. Online learning gives you more time and freedom to create a schedule that works for you, tweaking it as necessary. This is something you can’t do with in-person learning.

Gain More Retention: It’s a Fact

It’s proven that online learning provides more retention than a boring in-person lecture. Online learning is often filled with fun ways to prove a point, using videos, real-life scenarios, and more. Gaming is often a big component of eLearning, which makes learning fun and motivating. What’s more is when you’re tired and feel you’re not retaining anymore, you can stop and take a break or wait until the following day to resume.

Be Social: This is the Time

During shelter-in-place, people are finding creative ways to be social. An online learning community provides just that. Many of the curriculum developers for our F&I Training course provide ways for you to connect with other learners. This makes eLearning that much more fun and engaging. During this incredibly challenging time, many of us face insecurities, economically and socially. Isolation isn’t good for anyone and many of us are experiencing this at this time. To overcome feelings of isolation, it’s a good idea to socialize with others, even if it’s only online. This human contact can drastically improve a person’s mental outlook concerning the fallout from the pandemic, namely the lockdown.

Learn on the Go: It Couldn’t Be Easier

When you engage in eLearning, you can learn on the go. Listen to audio recordings in the car, prop up your mobile phone and listen to a lesson as you bake a cake, or relax on the couch with a new lesson instead of watching television. If you’re thinking you’re not great at multitasking, don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of learning on the go the more you do it. Practice makes perfect, as they say, and eLearning is something new you’ll have to adjust to if you’ve never done it before now.

Get Ahead of the Game

Right now, there isn’t much to do. We’re restricted in most cases when it comes to dining, entertainment, and traveling. Why not use this time to hit the ground running and get ahead of the game with an online F&I Training course in 2021, especially if you’re out of work or just looking for a new position. With this training course on your resume, you’re sure to impress the hiring manager and get offered a position or even a promotion.

Cost-Effective

Brick and mortar institutes of learning are simply more expensive than online schools. It costs a lot of money to run a campus and that cost is passed down to the students. Not only that, but print textbooks also cost a small fortune. Take these away and you are saving money by opting for eLearning over in-person learning since everything is done online. In some cases, such as at universities, there is a mixture of print and online learning materials, however, our course is done 100% online so there is no added cost for textbooks. Overall, the tuition for an online course is far cheaper than an in-person training program.

The pandemic will eventually end, and we’ll return to a new kind of normal. What will the world look like regarding this new normal? Masks, social distancing, and working from home may become our new norms. One thing is for certain, we can use this time to our advantage by enrolling in an F&I Training course with the Automotive Dealership Institute and reap all the benefits online learning provides. In fact, eLearning is now more popular than ever due to the pandemic, and users are starting to see all of its benefits as they continue to learn and grow.

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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.