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Menu Discipline is Key

By: Toni McQuilken

Menu Discipline is Key

At Agent Summit earlier this year, Gerry Gould, director of training for United Development Services, presented a panel on menus, and menu discipline. And to kick it off, he shared a compelling fact: 85 percent of F&I managers don’t use menus effectively. They don’t present every product to every customer, and they don’t have a consistent process in place.

That is something he wants to see changed.

“People who don’t buy into the menu concept just don’t have a good process,” Gould said. “There needs to be a consistent process every time. The presentation matters more than the size of the menu or the products presented.” He went on to stress that every customer should be presented with every product they qualify for, every single time. The menu itself, he contends, needs to be a disclosure of all the products available to the customer, not a hard sales tool.

The process actually starts long before the F&I manager gets to the menu. It should begin with the sales consultant on the floor. That person needs to set up F&I as a partner in the process, and an ally, and they should personally introduce the clients to the F&I manager, and hand them off with a reassurance that while they’re doing that, the sales person is still going to be working for them as well, getting the vehicle ready. Finally, the sales person can help to set up the expectations, asking about how long this will take. The F&I manager can then answer the question, and smoothly take over the appointment.

The menu itself should be prepared with all the proper terms, and with all of the products that customer qualifies for. The presentation should never take more than three minutes, Gould noted. The F&I manager should point out the features of each product — not the benefits — and should follow the “ABCs”: Always ask to proceed, Break down all the options, and finally Close on the options.

He advocates that F&I managers understand that the features are the story they need to be telling — those are what the product actually does. The benefits are the sale — that is what the product actually does for the client, specifically. And trying to “stair step” sell will just lead to fatigue, long before they ever get a chance to present every product. This is where the menu, and grouping similar products, when done well, allow them to present every product without making the customer feel fatigued and frustrated.

Some ways to reinforce that, Gould noted, are with certain catch phrases. These include “May I…?” sayings, such as “May I proceed?” or “May I share with you?” Other phrases can include ‘By choosing…”, “These are your payment options…” or “What that means is…” the F&I manager can control the pace of the presentation, come across as polite and helpful, and not seem like it’s a hard sale that will immediately get a customer defensive.

At the end of the day, a solid process that presents all the products, combined with a polite, helpful presentation designed not to overwhelm clients, will lead to more sales, and happier customers. “Self discipline is the final key ingredient,” said Gould. “You are the only one standing in the way of your own success.” If F&I managers can learn to use the menu effectively, they will get out of their own way, and everyone in the process will benefit.

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- has written 845 posts on Agent Entrepreneur.

Toni McQuilken is the managing editor for AE Magazine and P&A Magazine. She has a decade of editorial experience in the trade publishing world, across several industries, including print and graphics, as well as hospitality and technology. To contact her, e-mail [email protected]

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