F&I companies and dealerships share the same goal: to make the entire F&I process as streamlined as possible for customers, while still ensuring a satisfactory profit margin for the dealership.
In pursuit of this goal, many F&I companies have attempted to update their approach. This has entailed everything from providing digital menus to customized presentations and much more.
However, for many dealerships, it’s becoming clear that the best way to reach its F&I goals is to simply stick with the basics.
Pre-Exposure to F&I Products and Other Deal Killers
Among other things, this back-to-basics approach means doing away with pre-F&I interviews, pre-exposure to F&I companies and products, and other features that have become commonplace over the years.
This may come as a surprise to many dealers who have heard time and time again that pre-exposure is essential for introducing consumers to F&I products and helping them ease into a purchase decision.
Nonetheless, when data is reviewed from F&I offices, it becomes clear that the most effective processes produce the best results when the F&I manager is the only person who presents – much less even mentions – these products to customers.
Eliminating the Pre-Interview
The same applies to pre-interviews, which tend to cause more problems than they solve. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean F&I managers shouldn’t greet customers. It’s still wise to let them know how long the wait will be before their paperwork will be ready, too.
What you want to avoid is the battery of questions that many F&I managers ask consumers right on the showroom floor. Traditionally, these questions often included things like:
- “Are you concerned about what your car’s value will be when you trade it?”
- “In the unfortunate event of an untimely death, who will take over your payments?”
Questions like these are complete deal-killers.
The vast majority of customers who go through this kind of “pre-interview” feel like they’re being sold to and, understandably, may become defensive.
Instead, consider utilizing processes that have proven to work in the past. With necessary training to incorporate expanded roles and the help of new technology, most dealers will see much better results compared to pre-interviews.
7 Fundamentals for Your F&I Process
Once you eliminate those deal-killers from your process, you can place your focus on the following 7 F&I fundamentals.
1. Separate Your F&I Profit Center
Sales and F&I will always depend on one another, but they should still be separate. Sales managers should remain focused on selling vehicles – not F&I products.
2. Recognize Your Profit Priorities
Gross profit and unit sales should be prioritized over F&I income.
3. Emphasize the F&I Bottom Line
The success of your F&I processes should be based on net results. After all, what good are sales if the products get charged back?
4. Optimize Your Business Office
Your business office should ensure privacy, be free of distractions (including too many pitch materials), and, above all, communicate professionalism.
5. Maintain 100% Coverage
Your dealership can’t afford to be without sufficient F&I coverage. You may even want to name back-up F&I personnel so you never lack the staff you need for peak hours or to replace someone who’s on vacation.
6. Keep Pace
As we covered earlier, a brief introduction to the F&I manager is fine. This way, preliminary documents can be prepared and questions about rate and payments can be addressed. Don’t overdo this initial meeting. Do just enough that the entire process never comes to a screeching halt.
7. Utilize the 100% Rule
This rule is simple: F&I managers must always be 100% in compliance with all regulations.
Return to Basics but Remain Flexible
Going forward, center your F&I processes on the basics that are proven to work. However, that doesn’t mean becoming rigid, either. You can still experiment and test new practices, but don’t stray so far from what’s always succeeded that you begin making more work for yourself.