If there are two aspects of car purchasing that customers generally dread, the first is stepping onto the car lot and being descended upon by a pushy salesperson who doesn’t listen to what they really want.
The second, surprisingly, happens after they’ve shaken the salesperson’s hand. If they're not worried about the sales process, they're worried about what will happen in the finance and insurance (F&I) department.
The problem that many customers have with F&I is the perception that they’re going to be pressured with upsells and potential upgrades even after they’ve committed to the kind of vehicle they want. In addition to this, the lengthy wait times necessary to get all of the necessary checks and applications completed can make the F&I experience excruciating.
Through use of technology and proper training, however, it’s possible to make the F&I process smoother and friendlier for your customers.
Ditch the Paper
Every customer dreads getting handed a huge stack of papers to fill out. Like many businesses, auto dealerships are starting to ditch the paper and go digital.
Today’s technology allows your customers to enter credit check information via a tablet — an easier and much more attractive way to complete the process. These apps also allow customers to sign things such as credit applications and privacy policies electronically.
Your dealership cuts down on the paperwork and the process is streamlined for your customer — a true win-win for everyone!
As for paper that should be kept around: utilize those brochures. While your customer waits for an application to be processed, perusing information about their new vehicle or materials that further educate them about the dealership’s complimentary maintenance program will help drum up their excitement level.
Don’t Pitch; Start a Conversation
Ah, the dreaded upsell! Your dealership needs it to boost profit, but the customer doesn’t want to hear it.
They don’t really want to spend more money, but they’re agonized at making a decision as the different options are thrown at them in rapid-fire succession. Do they want the optional lost key coverage? A new key could cost as much as $300!
Would they like to purchase an extended warranty at this time? Would they like the dealership to apply window tinting or laser-etch the vehicle VIN number into the driver’s side window in case the car is ever stolen?
What if, what if, what if?
Instead of putting customers on the spot by rattling off a lengthy list of options, make it visual. Dealerships are using tablets to create a virtual list of the options.
Instead of these items being thrown out one at a time, this gives customers an overall picture of what they can decide to add. This starts a conversation in which your F&I staff can answer questions; it also gives customers a way to prioritize and plan where they’d like to spend additional money.
Implement Staff Training
It’s not enough for dealership management to strategize and understand why this new approach to F&I is needed. Dealership staff must be educated and properly trained, as well.
Why is this important? People hate change and will easily move back to the old way of doing things if they don’t understand why the new way is important.
A lackadaisical approach on the part of F&I staff means that certain aspects of the process may be passed over. Perhaps instead of presenting the customer with a digital menu of the options, your F&I staff insists on reading the options off and verbally going through them the way they always have.
It’s key to work with your F&I staff to help them see things from a customer’s perspective so they’ll understand why the new procedures are necessary. With everyone on board, technology can help you create a more streamlined dealership and (most importantly) happier customers.