This past year, more than ever, technology influences for F&I practices have never been so strong. Since the rise of the Internet in the early 1990s, the industry has adopted e-contracting, e-rating, and e-menus as every day F&I processes to speed up customer delivery. Many F&I services are moving 100% online including, but not limited to, applying for credit, find a vehicle quote, get finance/lease rates, compare trade-in values and purchase aftermarket products. The bottom line is that the there’s no time like the present to incorporate digital F&I practices into your dealership.
Why Adapt in 2016
With the way the industry has been shifting, soon enough the entire vehicle purchase process will be done completely online. Consumer demand will drive this online experience, so now is a good time to evaluate how “old school” F&I practices and processes could cost your dealer sales opportunities.
Consumers do not prefer the traditional F&I process with long complicated forms, brochures that don’t always give the consumer enough information and the amount of time it takes to be sold F&I products. Having a modern and user-friendly website is an effort wasted if the sales and F&I experience in your physical dealership are still time-consuming and slow. When customers experience this difference between the perception your website gives and the reality in your store, it may make them lose trust in you. Make it more efficient and convenient for your digital customers and make up for those possible lost sales.
Changing is Happening Now
The traditional F&I role is already shifting. One way we are seeing it change is dealerships removing the F&I role altogether, transferring these F&I professionals into the showroom and calling them sales managers. While in the showroom, these professionals are not only assisting their associates work deals but also helping finalize them. With aftermarket product expertise coming out of the F&I office and onto the sales floor, they will become the product specialists to engage with customers and present products that are appropriate to the customer. These changed F&I roles are performed in sequence with the selling process, which streamlines the entire F&I process and eliminates the long waiting period of a “old school” F&I experience.
Streamlining the New F&I Process for 2016
While there is still time before the F&I experience is 100% online, consider these tips to assist your dealership streamline F&I for 2016:
- Recognize the New Car Buyer: Modern F&I customers will spend more than 16 hours researching their future vehicle. Before presenting the F&I menu, be sure to ask the right questions to learn what they already know, then add value to yourself by clarifying and enhancing.
- Buyers Know More About You Than You Think: Consumers today not only do their homework, but understand language, behaviors or activity that could be insincere, due to comments on popular review sites. It’s important to invest in questioning-skills training so your team can better help new customers by understanding their needs and concerns. If you suggest products that touch these points, customers will buy without further influence. This is what many dealers hire and floor personnel outside the auto sales industries because they tend to have a knack for customer service and follow-up, which is an area where legacy salespeople struggle.
- Don’t Wait for the Customer to Come to You: With digital F&I tools, it’s possible to start the F&I conversation with customers that are still in the showroom. A new-aged way to do this is with tablets that are preloaded with your digital F&I menu for them to review their options. You can even let them review their personal finance or lease terms (which need to be cohesive with your website, so there isn’t a disconnect over rates) or look at a digital copy of their paperwork. You’ll still probably need them to go into the F&I office to finalize everything, but since you’ve provided them with digital consumer-facing tools, it will save both parties time while building customer confidence.
Enable Your Sales Team with INsite
Step into the digital F&I wrold seamlessly with INsite. Our web-based platform is integrated with the most popular Dealer Management Systems (DMS). Your F&I staff will spend more time engaging with the consumer and less time entering information. Quick quotes, menus, and contracts are all effortlessly created in one system.
The direct integration with your DMS and INsite’s intelligent quoting engine means that nearly 99.99% of submitted contracts will be underwritten as remitted. Getting it right the first time saves valuable time and eliminates the frustration of resubmitting due to errors and omissions.
There is no need to keep a separate F&I log with INsite. The integrated dashboard reports place real-time analytics at your fingertips. Inspect what you expect by measuring F&I performance on a daily basis. The first step in improvement is accurate measurements of your key performance identifiers.
There is not stopping these changes for the F&I industry, and your dealership can be one of the pioneers to adapt these changes in 2016 before it becomes the standard at all dealerships. As the F&I professional continues to morph out of the office and onto the sales floor, it’s always important to remember the overall goal of an F&I professional: to finalize each sale, ensure every vehicle sold is delivered, and the customer walks out of the dealership feeling satisfied and in good hands. Welcome to 2016, the year of digital F&I and one of the biggest industry shifts ever.