Dead F&I ‘Pros’ Everywhere

By: Jim Leman

I stuck a pin in the forearms of the last two F&I managers who sold us our last two cars. I’d hoped for a reaction from either, but not so much as an “ouch.”

I’m kidding about the pinprick, of course, but not about my experience (or lack of) with those individuals.

Now, I realize your F&I team is zealous for the customer and adept in explaining how aftermarket products add value to customers’ purchases. Their presentations are nothing like what I’ve experienced, a slightly more interested pitch than “You wouldn’t want to buy this, would you?”

OK, perhaps a little harsh, but if my few experiences are typical – and why not, I don’t seek poor F&I performance – maybe you need to sit with your F&I team and review some fundamentals.

If their performance isn’t generating product penetration greater than what consumers want to buy on their own without prompting, what value are they adding? Self-serve penetration rates of 20 to 25% for VSCs and a decent penetration for GAP are not uncommon.

Honestly, a lot of F&I managers should be concerned.

This industry must embrace a new engagement culture for F&I. The entire culture and order of the discipline needs a major refresh, starting with dumping the old objections-handling word tracks used for years. Talk to me. Ask real questions. Ask them a different way. Let me know that you know you have something of value for me.

We need different compensation models to focus away from high commission sales to selling value customers recognize. Be careful – regulators are looking at this matter too.

Put your helpful F&I technologies in the hands of capable men and women able to communicate warmly and clearly, able to demonstrate real value for the buyer in the products you sell, who though busy don’t rush me through the process.

Here’s the F&I pro I want engaging me:

  • Invites Trust: Takes time to help me understand
  • Extends a hand: Welcomes my uncertainty
  • Solves problems: Asks questions to learn I’d like investment protection, want my wife not have to worry about breakdowns or to cover the gap between the value of the vehicle I’m buying and what insurance would cover in event of a loss.

I hear F&I people like this are out there. Be nice if when I next buy a car I’d engage with one.

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