Safe and Sound!

Safe and Sound!

In the F&I office, one of the most important things we do for our customers is prioritize the effort to put them at ease and give them a safe F&I environment.

The founder of online music store CD Baby, Derek Sivers, once said,

The single most important thing is to make people happy. If you are making people happy, as a side effect, they will be happy to open up their wallets and pay you.

Customers come into any selling environment apprehensive that someone is going to talk them into doing something they will regret later. Customers who feel safe will listen to you, trust you, ask questions, and seek recommendations from you. If they don’t feel safe, they will avoid interaction with you, share only limited information, and seek to end the process as quickly as possible.

I recently went into a metro-area Apple store to pick up a new phone I had ordered online — and nothing else! I was disheartened when I saw 100-plus people inside and every Apple employee busy with a customer. I knew this would take forever and looked for a place to sign in. But I was immediately greeted by an employee with an iPad who welcomed me and asked how they could “help.” They communicated wirelessly and had someone bring my phone to me in less than five minutes.

Putting your customers at ease with a safe F&I environment will make them feel more comfortable making a purchase, and getting there is easier than you think!

But the most important part of the process was the initial greeting. “Mr. McCormick, I will have someone bring the phone out to you immediately. We will provide you all the help you need to get up and running right away, answer any questions you have, and assist you with any additional purchases if you need them. Would that be OK?” I was “safe” now. In about 20 minutes, I was leaving, and yes, I purchased two additional products.

What are the ingredients to produce this safe environment with our own customers? Let’s look at a couple:

1. Listen Deeply and Laugh Often.
When customers enter an F&I office, they expect to be forced to listen to a sales pitch. When the F&I manager urges the customer to talk 70% of the time and the customer realizes someone wants to listen to them, it creates a safe environment to talk.

… And talk they will! They will tell you everything you need to know to help them see their need for several products you offer. Don’t forget to make the experience fun! They just bought a new car and they think the fun is over. If the customer laughs in the first two minutes of meeting you, the tension is leaving the room and is replaced with a feeling that this experience will be different.
Most car buyers have had a least one tension-filled experience in an F&I office. Make this experience different and the outcome will be different!

2. Provide Value That Has Nothing to Do With Selling Anything.
Helping customers and providing a safe F&I environment requires that we do good things for them. In fact, we may do things for our customers that have nothing to do with selling.

A great opportunity is with the recent Equifax security breach that impacted millions of Americans. When we review our customer’s credit history, their personal information is exposed to us. They are concerned that their Social Security number and birth date are part of the public record now. They want to know what steps they should take.

Providing a simple one-page document with websites and phone numbers of the three credit bureau reporting companies along with some solid recommendations of what to do next will build great value with customers. They will see you helping them, not selling them, and when it comes time to discuss products you offer, they are more likely to listen.

I have seen this transpire in dealerships recently. I saw the quick change of the tone when customers realized this process was going to be different and they felt safe to talk and buy in. And buy they will!

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This blog article was also published on Agent Entrepreneur.