F&I’s three-tier approach: Serve, Connect, Sell

F&I’s three-tier approach: Serve, Connect, Sell

By Adam Marburger (CBT News)

We make things way too difficult in the F&I office. We often forget that people buy from people that they like and trust. We spend an abundance of time drilling and rehearsing fancy closes and word tracks, but we fail to truly connect with the customer. You can almost forget how many miles the customer drives per year and how long they will keep the vehicle, and still sell them a service agreement because you have connected with them and they like you.

If you desire to be a Black Belt in the F&I office then you must adhere to the following three-tier approach: serve, connect, sell.

Serve

We must serve our customers like they are guests in our home. My old mentor in the F&I office, Ron Reahard, would always tell me to be more urgent to serve than I am to sell. I took that advice to heart, and I ended up selling more F&I products at a higher gross profit. A servant-leading mentality will enhance the buying experience for the customer while increasing profitability. Our motto in our agency is: It is important to sell a car today, but more important to sell them a car tomorrow.

If we can wed the customer to our service department with the appropriate F&I products, the customer will return to your dealership to purchase their next household vehicle at over an 80% rate. The F&I manager must keep dealer retention at the forefront. In the volatile market that we are experiencing today, we MUST retain our customers. It is critical.

F&I

Connect

We must connect with our customers on an intimate level. Find out what motivated them to purchase and try to abstract as much information as possible without it being an interrogation. Find ways to make the customer laugh. If you can master this, the sky’s the limit for you in the F&I office. We forget to have fun with our customers, and it is costing the dealership and the F&I department money. Our job as F&I professionals is to secure the sale, manage the department, keep the dealer compliant and then make a profit.

We can do all these things while making this experience fun and exciting for the customer. Smile and smile often. Be passionate and enthusiastic about your role as the F&I manager. Be grateful for the opportunity to serve.

I am going to share a tip with you that will allow you to make a great first impression with your customer. Spend time on the showroom floor greeting customers that have not agreed to purchase yet. Walk up to them and introduce yourself. “Hello, Mr./Mrs. Customer, my name is Adam Marburger and I am the financial services manager here at ABC Motors. In the event that you purchase from us today, I will be handling all of the paperwork. I wanted to come over and personally, thank you for giving us the opportunity to serve you today. I have found that along the way some of my customers have questions. My office is right over there, and I have an open-door policy. If you need anything, please don’t hesitate to come to ask me. Again thank you for shopping with us today.” Now let’s fast forward 30-45 minutes and now they have agreed to purchase. When you go out to start your process you have already nailed the first impression. The first impression is very important to set the table for you later in the transaction. Those that truly understand this principle, run incredible numbers.

Sell

Sell yourself, your dealership, and your F&I product offerings. Selling yourself is what you are accomplishing in your early F&I touch and then in your needs analysis. Before you go into your menu presentation you should always review the perks that your dealership offers when purchasing a vehicle. These perks typically can be extended or enhanced in the F&I office. The best place to set yourself up for that is during your factory warranty presentation. Learn to be passionate about your products.

Here is the great news: we have an abundance of great F&I products to offer our customers. The majority of exclusionary policies are very similar and backed by major insurance companies. The protective coatings have never been more appealing to the customer. We have some fantastic bundle policies available that are easy to sell because there is a ton of value to the customer. Selling is the easiest part of the transaction. If you follow your process and learn to connect with your customer, selling is simple. After all, we provide solutions to problems that the customer does not always realize they have. It is our job to save the customer from themselves by protecting them with our valuable F&I products.

If we focus on serving and not selling, connecting and not confusing, and adding value to our F&I product offerings, we will sell at the highest level.

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