“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” “I have a dream.”
You can hear the voices in your head when you read these quotes. They’re from persuasive, impassioned speeches given at exactly the right moments in time to make history.
These indelible moments came from the speakers’ heart and deeply connected with their audience. They didn’t come from winging it or reading line by line. Their speakers were well-prepared and informed, so the words just flowed.
In those brief moments, the speaker crossed an invisible divide to build a relationship, connecting with the audience’s hidden concerns and emotions.
That’s the bond F&I must make with today’s consumers—a profound connection with the right information gained through streamlined processes that use technology tools to master the material, extract the important concerns, and demonstrate the desire to meet customers’ needs.
It may sound fundamental, but you must understand how to connect to the buyer’s mind, needs, fears, and passions to make the sale and deliver a meaningful experience.
In F&I, engaging customers as if you know personally them improves product penetration and per-vehicle retail (PVR). Making a connection may also lead them to a lifetime of loyalty to your dealership, brand, and you as a lifestyle concierge.
As Forbes noted, “When it comes to persuasive communication, if you wander, you are lost. Too often, presentations fail to deliver results because they don’ t follow a clear path to a concrete call to action.”
In F&I especially, customer communication must be persuasive and insightful because buyers seldom understand why buying one or more products is valuable to them. Walking customers through a needs-based F&I presentation can help increase product sales frequency and the number of products sold per deal to three or four, increasing PVR.
Even after consumers have researched online for 15 to 17 hours, many arrive at the dealership still not knowing everything about their vehicle of interest. The same applies to the F&I process.
Perhaps your F&I process already uses one of these new ideas to improve its profitability:
Fortunately, interactive e-menus and other engagement devices, including self-paced lifestyle e-surveys, enable customers to peruse and evaluate aftermarket offerings. The survey results from these tools’ built-in predictive analysis, helping consumers choose the products they find most valuable. This process automation lets the dealership focus on building relationships with customers.
The typical customer engagement gap in F&I is unfortunate, but can be closed with the bridge provided by modern F&I platforms. Not only does it shave time off the F&I experience for customers, it also engages them in thorough, needs-based aftermarket products presentations.
Customers exposed to this F&I experience typically buy two or more aftermarket products that drive up PVR. Consumers embrace these technologies and feel comfortable using them, perceiving the dealership as more modern and inclusive.
Most shoppers today are familiar with survey apps—web pop-ups that ask their opinions. Consumers enjoy using purchasing aides that leverage behavior data to guide their shopping journey with statements like “if you like this, you might also like that” and “other customers who purchased XYZ also bought . . .”
Top F&I performers use these “smart survey” tools for analyzing consumer responses to:
With preparation, your F&I department can build a menu of products the customer will perceive as valuable, allowing them to enjoy worry-free vehicle ownership. Many will want to purchase products such as service contracts, tire and wheel packages, prepaid maintenance, and GAP after learning how they protect their investment and budget.
As for product penetration, NADA reports its members’ service contract penetration is about 40% of new-car sales. How is your dealership doing against that metric?
Two significant factors explain low PVR and penetration:
Regarding the latter, when an e-menu is used, PVR and production penetration both increase. Our studies show that dealers using our interactive F&I platform realized $538 more new-car PVR, and 12% and 10% lifts in VSC and GAP penetration, respectively.
As consumers get smarter, interactive, predictive, and multisensory engagement F&I tools will help deliver an efficient, needs-based Apple- and Amazon-like experience. These tools are available now to do the heavy lifting so F&I personnel can focus on relationship-building.
With them, customers are persuaded as if they’d heard a stirring speech, while F&I generates higher PVR and product penetration for the dealership.