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Is the F&I Office Tone Deaf?

Is the F&I Office Tone Deaf?

Customers give great weight to the overall experience and tone of the process. We should too!

We have all had the dilemma of trying to determine why two F&I managers with equal talent levels are getting such different results. Both consistently follow the same process using the menu with very customer, presenting all the products 100% of the time, and are transparent and compliant in their presentation. How could two such similar F&I managers have such different results?

Dealers look to agents to help them determine the answer. So how can we help them help more customers and increase profits?

A survey of over 10,000 consumers across 206 companies, including auto dealerships, provides some insight. Seventy-three percent of respondents said the No. 1 contributing factor that compels them to remain loyal to a company is “interaction with friendly and likable employees.” Simply stated, it’s the tone of the experience.

Chain restaurants have mastered the implementation of a consistent process of the food preparation. However, they all struggle with the tone of the presentation. Sound familiar? Here are a few key components of a successful tone that customers love and that leads them to trust and buy more!

1. The F&I Manager Introduction 

The practice of meeting the F&I manager at the end of the buying process has been a standard process in dealerships for years. That has created a confrontational tone which leads to sales resistance. The less time the F&I manager spends with the customer before they come into the F&I office, the more sales resistance they will encounter.

Time to change the tone. Regardless of who is submitting the deal to a lender F&I managers should go out and meet the customer and let them know they will be working for them to get everything approved and save them time. Now the tone and perception of the F&I manager has changed, for the better!

2. The Fun Factor

Customers are usually laughing and having fun when buying a new vehicle. As we often say, “If the customer is laughing in the salesperson’s office, we know they’re buying!”

Most customers are excited about their new vehicle, and we should be excited with them! When customers are laughing and having fun in the F&I office, it takes less effort and less time to overcome objections and move the customer to see their need for the products offered.

An intentional effort should be made to tell the customer, “We know you’ve had some fun choosing a new vehicle and I want to make sure you have some fun in my office as well. As a matter of fact, there is a three-laugh minimum in here.” Having fun with customers requires you have an interactive process where you listen more than you talk and you show genuine interest in them.

Having fun is not a stale effort. Rather, it’s the result of a customer focused process, all customers want and enjoy.

3. Providing Insight — Not Just Information!

Insight is a unique perspective on all the information customers are bombarded with today. Simply, insight is “what this means to you.” Customers have never had more information at their fingertips than today. However, they also have less insight than ever before. They need help processing all the information they gather on the internet prior to coming to the dealership.

Customers know that today’s vehicles have more technology than ever before. However, they don’t necessarily understand how that makes an issue with the vehicle different than from the past. We know that a failed computer part will not be repaired but replaced, but does our customer? The customer may not have experienced this issue, and when the F&I manager shares what happened with a previous customer, the tone shifts to a helping one, not a selling one!

The tone of the F&I process starts before the customer ever steps foot into the F&I office. For this reason alone, two F&I managers with similar skills and processes can have dramatically different results.

As agents, dealers look to us to find the underlying reasons why someone is struggling in the F&I office. Always look deeper than just the numbers and focus on when the F&I manager is getting involved, what tone are they setting, and whether they are providing information or insight. Customers give great weight to the overall experience and tone of the process. We should too!

If you could hear me sing, you would realize I must be tone deaf! But if you let me observe an F&I manager with a customer, I can sense the tone immediately. Helping them see it and adjust it to a more palliative one will be music to your dealership partner’s ears! … and yours!

I look forward to seeing you on my next post. Also, feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas that get results is my passion!

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This blog article was also published on Agent Entrepreneur.