Use your next dealership visit to ensure service-contract sales and menu presentations are executed with skill and compliance. Top trainer has a three-part plan. 
 - PHOTO:Gettyimages.com/Nastasic

Use your next dealership visit to ensure service-contract sales and menu presentations are executed with skill and compliance. Top trainer has a three-part plan. 

PHOTO:Gettyimages.com/Nastasic

Throughout the year, I am involved in conducting F&I certification classes, instore F&I training, and dealership evaluations. Consistently, three areas arise that are challenging to the long-term profitability of the F&I department, making these a concern to the dealers. There are three areas that would be on the agenda for my next dealer visit. Let’s look at each one.

1. What’s Going on With Service Contracts?

Service contracts are the engine that pulls the train in dealerships. When acceptance levels are high and profitability is good, everyone wins. Customers have great coverage that will provide a great ownership experience, the dealerships have profits that can be reinvested in new acquisitions, building upgrades and increased benefits for employees.

If acceptance levels are subpar, agents must investigate to determine the cause. How is the product presented? How is the value of the coverage being built? What is the F&I manager’s perspective on their performance?

Less-than-desired performance with service contracts is usually due to one of two factors: the F&I manager’s perceived value of the coverage or a process that fails to get customer buy-in.

The most effective manner to sell any intangible product is to make it visual and interactive. What visual aids are being used by the F&I manager? Is the customer being involved in the process of self-discovering their need for the product? One valuable aspect of an agent is their evaluating the process being used. Thereafter, educating and motivating the F&I manager in the most effective process.

Provide F&I managers with visual aids that are effective. Demonstrate how to deliver an interactive process. They will be able to build value in their products and move more customers to buy. This would be on the top of the agenda for my next instore visit!

2. Why Is My Menu Investment Not Paying Off?

The technology that menu providers are bringing to the F&I office is amazing — everything from an interactive menu to the ability to conduct the process remotely and paperless. Most dealers expect their investment in menu technology to lead to a higher product per retail unit. However, a menu is still just a menu. It doesn’t sell anything!

That’s what F&I managers do — or at least should be doing. Many F&I managers are misusing the software or the sales flow. Some continue to step-sell products and only use the menu as a final disclosure. Others use the menu as a selling tool, selling heavily as they review the menu with the customer.

This is not what the menu is designed for. A menu, whether paper, electronic, or interactive, is simply a disclosure tool to inform the customer of the options available in connection with their purchase. Using the menu for any other purpose creates the very resistance that the menu was designed to collapse!

Which menu is being used is not the most pressing question. You need to know how the menu is being used.

Having a clear discussion of how the menu is being used, the value of a no-pressure disclosure of products available, and the motivation to adapt the best process is key to long-term success. Role-play best menu practices. How to move from an objection or a “No” to all products after the initial disclosure to building value and filling customer needs is a learned skill.

We must teach this skill consistently to grow product sales. F&I managers know how to sell, yet many are unclear on when to sell! This would definitely be on my agenda.

3. Are My F&I Managers Aware of and Practicing Compliant Processes?

In today’s environment, and with the numerous options available, every F&I manager should be required to complete some form of F&I certification training. I have heard numerous comments by F&I managers that reflect a lack of knowledge of the laws and regulations that impact our industry and their jobs. This is both concerning and fixable!

Agents can be an asset here as well. Outline a road to compliance for your accounts. Help F&I managers select an appropriate program to educate them on the laws and regulations that govern the F&I process. Then be their “continuing education” coach. Give them a quick 10- to 20-question compliance test to determine if they have retained the knowledge needed.

For those who have not been through a certification training, use the quiz to help illustrate the urgency to have compliance training. Providing a path to keep the dealerships you serve compliant and knowledgeable of the risks that must be navigated in every transaction builds value in you and your agency. And it just might save them time and money defending an action that could have been avoided.

My next dealer visit would assure that:

  1. The effort to sell the service contract is effective.
  2. The menu is being used properly.
  3. There is knowledge and acceptance of compliant business practices in every F&I office.

In that environment, product sales, customer satisfaction, and profits will soar. And your expertise will be clearly evident and valued! 

I look forward to seeing you on my next post. Visit www.go-reahard.com to learn more about how we can help you help more customers. Also, feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas that get results is my passion!

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Rick McCormick
Rick McCormick

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Rick McCormick is the national account development manager for Reahard & Associates.

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Rick McCormick is the national account development manager for Reahard & Associates.

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