Most foodies know Anthony Bourdain and his edgy TV show “No Reservations” that explores the world’s leading food trends.  For certain, he is an established and acclaimed chef. As a culinary pioneer, he travels the globe to bring new cuisine ideas to American kitchens and restaurants on your street.

What Bourdain does for American appetites – stretching, enticing, and elevating – your F&I providers should do for your F&I department. Dished up another way, is your F&I provider a short order cook or a highly capable, well-traveled, and innovative chef?

What your dealership deserves is a forward-learning and teaching business partner who can provide not only short-order solutions for today but innovations and technical insights to help you succeed in tomorrow’s F&I world.

A provider serving the same menu every time is beneficial, but a strategic partner who brings to the table the latest technology, data, and ideas from around the globe can help you innovate your F&I and WOW your customers.

If your F&I provider isn’t partnering with you to help you adapt to the rapidly evolving F&I practice, what’s their purpose, to hold the status quo?

This is not merely philosophical dialogue. You know well that traditional F&I is morphing into different models. As many F&I functions – once solely the domain of the F&I manager – increasingly move into the digital engagement space, will you be ready and able to continue generating profitability? Alternatively, will you hope your customers don’t notice that your processes have become outdated?

What this means

If you’re uncertain about how to evolve your F&I to keep up with customer and OEM demand – or you’ve tried but been unsuccessful – the fly in the soup is often having no real technology or, on the other hand, numerous systems and technologies that aren’t providing you with a cohesive workflow. For instance, manual processes that require double data entry leaves a bitter taste for users. Alternatively, paper processes that buyers may view as “old school” and less trustworthy than digital alternatives.

This is how the future of F&I spreads out before us – and your choice is to adapt and migrate to global functionality with new methods of interactivity, or to continue with painfully piecemealing your processes and risk the rejection of tomorrow’s F&I customer who’s lifestyle is immersed in digital everything.

This change is not around the bend; it is here, and your dealership may miss significant profit opportunities by not having the technology & team. In 2015, MaximTrak Technologies conducted a study to analyze nearly 1.5 million vehicle transactions and looked at several important F&I performance indicators. Here are results:

Non-Menu PVR Top e-Menu
PVR $740 $1,278
VSC Penetration 23% 35%
GAP Penetration 22% 32%

As substantial as these increases are, these stores achieved these lifts by using a top-of-the-line digital menu for just slightly over half of their total deals. Imagine how much profitable those stores would have been had high-end e-menu technology been applied to all sales.

You’ll find a clear example of why business must remain atop changing technology to survive at your local convenience store. Standing outside the store may be a red DVD-dispensing kiosk. Perhaps you’ve rented DVDs from Redbox, which in 2007 said it had a footprint greater than Blockbuster, but it may go the same way – out of business.

“Levers that worked the past are no longer sufficient,” notes Variety in a recent news capture.

There’s a message there: what levers have you been relying on to improve your F&I performance? Will they be sufficient for tomorrow?

New meals on the table

A global F&I platform company exposed to leading digital customer engagement and sales technologies from around the world is best positioned to bring to your F&I business clever competitive “levers.”

We have seen this happening over the years in every industry, and in F&I with digitizing menus, using touch devices and coming soon to a showroom near you – Virtual Reality.

“For a number of reasons, VR will be the most disruptive technology we’ve seen in 30 years,” an automotive practice executive, with a global learning platform consultancy, noted recently.

The goal of such technology is to help you deliver a shorter, more compliant, and more thorough and engaging F&I presentation. Customers tell us they want this change.

A 2014 study by Cox Automotive showed that consumers want to spend only 90 total minutes in the dealership, yet they spend 60 minutes of that total in F&I!

We see this evolution in F&I platforms that leverage tablets, digital, video, flat screen visuals and interactive consumer surveys. As an illustration, interactive menu systems that use touch tools not only allow the customer to build their product packages in a smooth workflow fashion but interactively guide them as they bring to the surface the value of the products.

A well-designed interface has a curator function by taking all possible choices and presents the most efficient, yet comprehensive way to educate, inform and engage buyers. The best tools use predictive technology to synthesize key data points, like risk factors, customer survey answers, deal info, replacement costs and more, to make unbiased product recommendations. They give the user the comfort and control of deciding their own destiny, and more often than not, they will buy more products because their goal of “worry-free ownership” is achievable. The right technology will facilitate these transactions, making it a win for everyone involved.

A partnership culture

The journal Luxury Daily reports that up to 30 percent of dealership showroom space today is allocated to technology. This percentage will quickly double as OEMs (and dealers) populate their brands’ retail stores with customer demonstration and engagement devices that use virtual reality, gaming strategies, and other levers to give consumers more control over their product choice. Evidence indicates that when that happens, they buy more.

This evolution in technology is eliminating those technology providers unable to invest, or who lack global insight, resources and the will to adapt and adopt exciting new F&I tools. If you wish to shorten your learning curve, collaborate in partnership to achieve your tactical software needs and far-sighted strategic planning and resource advisory capabilities.

We have no reservations about this – prepare now to deliver the F&I experience your customers are already expecting from you – digital, accessible and transparent, and multi-channel. Evaluate partners able to help you reach ultimate productivity and the best possible experience for your customers for now – and tomorrow. Make sure your F&I growth is not limited to the vision of your provider.

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