When I began my automotive career in the early 1990’s, the F&I training I received was basically the same training I found myself teaching a few years later.
Moving forward to 2008, the buyers were not responding to basic word tracks and menu presentations like they had for the last 30 years. Industries change over time. The time had arrived for dealerships – specifically in F&I.
Many stores were still sneaking “leg” into deals thanks to well intentioned sales managers, but it didn’t matter. Every customer had a payment calculator in their pocket. Times had certainly changed.
In 2009, I began a quest to find a better way to train F&I managers.
I believed that a new way to interact with customers had to be developed in order to maintain profit goals. That as technology improved, customers would become more cynical of car dealerships making sales increasingly more difficult. This is a vicious cycle that will eventually kill a dealership.
I began to study consumer behavior. I found connections in behavior that directly affected CSI, PVR and Penetration rates.
I learned how we could modify our behavior to not only be more profitable for our dealerships, but also to earn more money, create higher CSI and generally enjoy our work more.
During my quest, I spent a lot of time studying how the brain works. Specifically trying to understand how people make decisions. I discovered that basic laws existed. For instance;
F&I LAW # 1 – For every customer, in every transaction the very first decision the customer makes is whether, or not, the sales person can be trusted.
Basically, it’s important to figure out if your customer believes you can be trusted or not?
The first part of this process begins in the lower brain. The lower brain (lizard brain) tells you whether something is safe or not. In the sales process, it regulates “trust”.
F&I LAW # 2 – Trust is the most valuable currency in the world. – Trust is universal. It doesn’t matter what country you’re in or what language you speak, it is more valuable than money.
Trust is quite simply a gateway. Your customer will decide whether you can be trusted or not before they will listen to your menu presentation or any data that supports them buying a product from you. No trust = no sale.
So to figure out how to generate trust I had to figure out how the lower brain worked.
The part where I nearly died
Specific training is introduced, training designed to teach the SEALs to remain calm in situations that would be incredibly nerve-racking for normal people. I wanted to learn more but there’s no way I can train with the SEALs.
I sought out something that was incredibly challenging but I would still be allowed to participate in. Mental combat.
Sounds interesting, but dangerous. Both mentally and physically I’m not always the sharpest knife in the drawer. So, trying to acquire a deep understanding about how people respond to stress can take you to some pretty interesting places. For me, it led to TORIS.
TORIS teaches military, law-enforcement and private citizens techniques and strategies for dealing with hyper-stressful and life-threatening situations. It’s challenging because instead of being engaged against an opponent, you were really only trying to control yourself – which is amazingly difficult under stress.
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Inside the dealership
There’s an application for understanding the brain in our dealerships. For instance, we all know that many customers come in nervous about being taken advantage of or/and spending way too much time at the dealership.
You touch anywhere from 60 to 75 deals a month so there’s not much reason for you to be nervous, but your customer may experience something very different. For them it is an uncomfortable situation, sitting in the box with the guy that closes people all day, every day.
The customer’s lower brain is telling them that they cannot trust you. That even being inside the dealership may be unsafe to their budget and/or their schedule.
Basically, they are experiencing a very mild version of fight or flight. This leads to the customer “tuning out” during your presentation or giving you objections that are unrealistic or ridiculous.
Once we learn a deep understanding of human behavior, stress management techniques and how our behavior influences our customers ability to trust us, then we can begin seeing results in our dealership that help make us become more profitable as our buyers shift into the next decade.
It’s important that we begin implementing strategies that help us communicate more effectively with our customers soon because so many of the old-school sales tactics are no longer effective.
By: Lloyd Trushel
President / COO
The Consator Group
What makes Consator Group different?
We believe… that there is a better way to conduct business than the status quo. In our experience, when transparent and intelligent communication occurs between F&I and their customers, profits and satisfaction go up for all parties. Conversely, when the communication is poor and dysfunctional, profits and satisfaction go down for all parties.
We are experts… in the automotive industry, with each of our principal level consultants having over 20 years’ of automotive experience. Their areas of experience include automotive finance, all areas of variable operations, financial lending, process consulting, insurance, ancillary products, the study of social sciences and the understanding of consumer buying habits.
We create a better F&I experience… by teaching F&I managers a deeper understanding of today’s buyers. We skip the typical sales cliché’s and antiquated methods. Our process is simple and straightforward. We dig into real consumer behaviors and purchasing habits so that we can educate your staff and consumers. The result is a more profitable transaction for the dealership and a happier consumer.
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