The Past, Present, and Shifting Future of F&I
Although it’s exciting to think about the future of F&I trends with regard to technology, many people also worry that their jobs will soon be on the cutting board.
This isn’t necessarily going to be the case for those working in F&I, though.
As long as you understand where the industry is going, the future is bright.
The Past, Present, and Future of F&I
Before we delve into what the future looks like for F&I, let’s first begin by looking at where it’s been and where it stands at the moment.
1. The Past
It’s no secret the auto industry’s recent history wasn’t especially heartening. The effects of the Great Recession weren’t the only reason for this, though. Before about a decade ago, customers who wanted to research their financing options were left mainly to their own devices.
This usually involved doing research from their computers at home, making notes, and then bringing them with to the dealership and doing their best to remember everything they hadn’t written down.
This was hardly ideal. It also made sales difficult for the dealerships, but plenty of customers also left with vehicles they hadn’t remotely researched after finding out they’d have to wait for their intended purchase.
2. The Present
Things have changed a lot since then.
One of the most significant shifts in the market has been the “empowered consumer.”
Armed with their smartphones, they are never far from the information they need to feel comfortable with their purchasing decisions.
While this is great for the customer, it often proves to be a significant problem for those working in F&I. Most customers have already done their research and have the “proof” on their smartphones for what they are confident their payments should be.
This is why successful professionals in this field have shifted focus to value, not payment. If you’re not aligning your department with customer needs, you have to change that right away.
3. The Future
Looking forward, the future belongs to departments that win the customer-loyalty competition. This is why better technology won’t hurt those departments that are willing to evolve. Technology will never replace professionals who go the extra mile for their customers.
In the world of F&I, this will mainly mean learning about the customer, educating them on what their needs are, and filling the gaps that may exist in their research.
Of course, good technology can help with this, but it won’t do much for any dealerships that prioritize setting quotas on specific products no matter what customers want.
The Key to Moving Forward
So while technology does have a place in the future, the departments that continue to thrive will be those that use it to support a customer-centric approach.
Soon, there will be more advanced technology than ever before to help with this, but it won’t be any good if you don’t ensure that, right now, your department knows how to assess customers’ actual needs before helping them make appropriate purchases.