Maximum F&I Profits Are a Consequence, Not a Goal

 

By Myril Shaw

 

When you treat customers well and with respect…when you make their experience at every stage in your store completely outstanding…when each of your employees has a goal of 100% customer satisfaction and happiness...then, and only then, will you maximize profits in each of your profit centers.

 

Nowhere is this more true than F&I.

 

This principle cannot be lip-service.  It must be honest, sincere and deeply held.  If the answer to the question, “Is what I am doing, saying or offering truly intended to help the customer have a better experience today and into the future?” is not an un-conflicted “Yes”, then you need to either help the employee get to a “Yes”, or examine the action, statement or offer.

 

The reality is that a happy customer leads to a successful sale and creates the greatest profit.  If you don’t believe that, look around at the dealerships who are demonstrating great profits and an outstanding customer retention rate – they have happy customers.  The correlation is very high – and it always will be.

 

So, what can you do to make this a reality – especially as it pertains to F&I.

 

You have to walk-the-walk and talk-the-talk in the following ways:

 

  • An F&I Office makes customers uncomfortable and so needs to be replaced with a Delivery Office or, perhaps, a Business Office

    • Psychological congruence matters to customers and knowing that they might get sent to the Principle’s, uh, sorry, F&I Office later just adds stress through the entire process

  • Your Backend Products offer true value to your customers – they are important and you would not offer them if they did not add real value – they truly provide valuable protections and you would not offer them if they were just vehicles to add revenue to a deal

  • Financing is a true value for every customer and having an easy, comfortable one-stop shop which is market competitive to offer your customer is a service and not simply a profit opportunity

  • “Cash” is not a four-letter word and cash buyers have the same rights and deserve the same excellent treatment and protection as every other customer

  • You care about what is best for the customer first and best for the store second

 

So, what do you do?

 

  1. Immediately remove any reference to any F&I function within your store.  Replace it a Delivery function or Business function.  More than that, make sure that even before your customer has started looking at units, your sales person introduces the Delivery/Business Coordinator/Manager to your customer with, “This is the person who is going to make sure you have a great experience here.  They make getting you into the water as quickly/easily/accurately and happily as possible their top priority.  When we are done, you’ll be working with them to get you out of here delighted.”

  2. Ensure that your Delivery Coordinators/Business Managers are complete conversant on the value of your Backend Products.  Beyond being conversant, they have to be articulate about and a believer in, not the feature list, but the real-world use of these products and how they truly do make the customer’s life better.

  3. Financing must be presented to every customer…not simply because it is a source of store profit, but because in many cases, financing truly protects the customer in the face of depreciation, total loss risk (GAP can be a huge benefit) and overall cash flow.

  4. Cash buyers need to hear their finance options.  19%-25% of “cash buyers” are financing elsewhere so the presentation of finance options allows them to save time, and perhaps get a better deal.  15%+ of cash buyers never even hear about the alternatives, which, when presented as part of the menu may seem more attractive than cash.  Moreover, every cash buyer needs the full menu presentation of backend product options both legally and because they have the right to be fully protected.

  5. Every Delivery Coordinator/Business Manager needs to be trained to put the customer first and make that care evident in their conversations.  The reason that they are having the conversations that they are having is simply to ensure that the customer is fully aware of their options and the value of those options.

 

When the customer comes first as the goal, the consequences are:  20%-25% of “Cash Buyers” will ultimately Finance; F&I Profits will trend to being 50% and 65% of total store profits; customer retention will skyrocket.

 

Put the customer first…it really works!

Editor’s Note: The Marine Dealer Conference & Expo will take place December 10-13, 2017 in Orlando, Fla. If you find value in this blog post, just think of the value you could receive at MDCE.

Get registered here.

Copyright 2018 by Marine Retailers Association of the Americas