The Wait is Over!
According to the latest figures from Cox Automotive, customers spend nearly 40 minutes idle at the dealership when buying a car! And the portion of the process that took longer than they expected most often was the financing and paperwork at 64%.
Every agent’s F&I training program must address wait times, a silent killer that annoys customers and can even undo a done deal.
We are talking about buyers here, not shoppers. They have already decided to spend thousands of dollars of their hard-earned money with us, and customer satisfaction, overall profits and the likelihood of return or referral business is at stake. It’s time we stop the F&I waiting game once and for all, structure a more customer focused process and let them know the wait is over! We must become FAST!
F – Focus on the Customer’s Perspective
We know, from the dealership’s perspective, many things that must be done once a customer decides to buy. However, we must consider the customer’s perspective.
Several years ago, Houston International Airport was facing massive complaints due to long wait times for baggage. It only took one or two minutes to walk from the gate to baggage claim. However, once there, passengers waited an average of eight minutes for their bags to arrive.
How did the airport address this issue? They changed the path necessary to walk to baggage claim so it would take six to eight minutes. Once passengers arrived at baggage claim, their bags were usually waiting. The airport looked at things from the customer’s perspective and structured their process to keep the customer busy and moving forward, not waiting.
What happens to your customer once they have committed to buy a vehicle? If they are left sitting somewhere with nothing to do, the wait could lower engagement levels or even cause them to question their decision to buy. Either of these is a profit killer!
A – Accurate Information Is Required
Nothing can slow the process more than getting deep into the paperwork and discovering incorrect information. Misspelled names, incorrect numbers and missing information required to complete the transaction brings everything to a crawl.
An F&I manager should go out and meet every customer and verify all their information prior to submission to a lender or entering the data into their system. There must be checks and balances to avoid costly mistakes. Software is available to streamline the process and ensure accuracy. The cost of the software will pay for itself time and again when mistakes are avoided and wait times are minimalized.
S – Stay With the Customer
Never leave a customer alone after they have committed to buy a vehicle. I have seen customers left in a comfortable lounge, on a designated couch or, worst of all, sitting alone at the salesperson’s desk.
They might be watching a TV or the other customers going into F&I; however, they are also looking at their watches. Every minute left alone waiting for the F&I process to begin is equal to 10 minutes in the F&I office.
Service-drive visits, an explanation of the vehicle’s features, or a review of the owner’s manuals are all activities that keep the customer engaged and moving forward in the process. As long as the process is moving, they feel their time is being respected.
T – Track Transition Times
How long is the average wait time in your dealership? We utilize an online survey that gathers perceived wait times of the buying process. Typically, multiple managers have a different perception of how long customers are waiting for F&I.
This part of the process is too important to leave to chance. Start tracking actual wait times and use the information to start developing a more effective use of customer’s time. Time and resources should be used to reduce wait times and keep the customer engaged.
Every other major industry has started addressing the wait times of their customers. A customer’s time is their most valuable commodity. We demonstrate that we value their business, when we value their time.