13.3 Ways To Help Your Dealers Sell More Products

By: Ron Reahard

13.3 Ways To Help Your Dealers Sell More Products

The focus of every independent agent must be on helping their dealers improve overall F&I performance and profits, not just on getting that dealership to sell more of their products. Your agency must be perceived by your dealers as their F&I partner with the resources, expertise and commitment necessary to help them maximize F&I income.

As their F&I partner, the (#1) thing every agent must do to help their dealers build F&I product sales and profits is to back up the truck and pour some concrete. Just as a house requires astrongfoundation, every successful F&I department is built on a solid foundation. That requires a blueprint; written policies and procedures with regard to F&I and written job descriptions for both sales department and F&I department personnel. That foundation should also include the understanding that the F&I department, not the desk, is responsible to submit the deals to the lenders.

You also have to (#2) change the message. The message must be that the F&I department is there to be of service to the customer, and help them make informed decisions with regard to the options available in connection with their purchase. It is not there to sell customers products they don’t need, nor is it just a way for the dealership to make money on unsuspecting customers. The F&I department must be perceived by everyone in the dealership as there to help customers, not there to sell them products they don’t want and don’t think they need.

F&I managers must understand that (#3) speed makes you money; how fast do they want to go? Every minute an F&I manager makes the customer wait before allowing them to sit before the F&I god, customer satisfaction goes down and their ability to sell products goes down. F&I managers have to be capable of multi-tasking, and continuously discovering the customer’s needs as they begin preparing the customer’s documents. It speeds up the process, and now the customer interview is perceived as a conversation, not an interrogation.

As an agent, you need to help your F&I managers (#4) make the invisible … visible! That means teaching F&I managers how to use visual aids, such as a simple hand drawing, a component part or a nail to engage the customer and help them see the need for GAP, a VSA or tire & wheel road hazard protection. A simple hand drawing that engages the customer and allows them to self-discover the value of a product is much more effective than any brochure or computer infomercial.

You also have to (#5) give ’em some new tools. Every F&I manager should have a list of 30 questions they ask every customer that will help them discover the customer’s needs. Your F&I manager should have five needs-discovery questions they ask the customer on the showroom floor, on the purchase agreement, the credit application, the credit bureau, on the odometer statements and on the agreement to provide insurance. Your F&I managers must be trained to use a customer acknowledgement or “waiver” to create customer interest in knowing more about a product, and open the door after the customer has said “No.”

Most F&I managers also have to be constantly reminded that (#6) objections are a good thing! Objections are an opportunity to learn more about the customer’s wants, needs and concerns. Identify the objections your managers continue to struggle with, and then have them write out their response. One of the most important things you can do is role play how to overcome problematic objections with your managers every time you’re in the dealership, and record their response. Then play it back, and let them hear how they really sound. It’s often eye-opening, for them and you!

So, (#7) does anybody want to see a menu? It’s critical that you make sure your managers are menu selling, not just using a menu. It’s amazing how many managers still step-sell their products the same way we did 30 years ago, only now they use a menu to do it. You have to get your F&I managers to stop wasting their time (and the customer’s time!) customizing menus before they even get the customer. And they have to ask the customer to buy a package, as opposed to simply step-selling each product individually.

Okay, so let’s (#8) feed ’em some peanuts! F&I managers have to be capable of making the customer thirsty; in other words, making the customer to want to know what they know. After all, that’s what selling is, making the customer want what you have. And what an F&I professional has is the knowledge and expertise to help the customer make a better decision. When the customer says they don’t want or need a product, F&I managers have to make a statement that piques the customer’s curiosity, and makes them thirsty to know what they know. Now they’re responding to a customer’s request for information versus making a sales pitch.

Unfortunately, (#9) you don’t want to dance with me, do you? You have to teach your managers how to close! Closing is nothing more than asking a customer for a commitment. Too many F&I managers are afraid to ask the customer for a commitment, and when they do, they make it too easy for them to say no. Teach your F&I managers that whenever they respond to an objection and get a positive response, they’ve earned the right to ask a closing question. And they should always ask a closing question that will get a positive response.

As an agent, you have to (#10) become valuable to the dealer, the sales manager, the salespeople, the service manager and the F&I manager. Demand that your F&I managers set goals every month, and then require that they demonstrate how they are going to achieve them. Test them each month on their consultative skills; the number of open-ended questions they are asking to discover the customer’s needs, and the number of benefits they’re able to relate. Sit in and critique an actual deal, so you know what is really happening in that office with real customers. Teach them a new visual aid or new close, share an article, idea or sales tip every time you’re in the dealership.

Of course, (#11) you just gotta believe! As their F&I product provider, it’s imperative that you demonstrate your belief in your products daily, and expect your F&I managers to do the same. Too many F&I managers denigrate their own products or brag about how they “crushed” some customer and made $4,000 on them. Now the perception of every salesperson at the dealership is that F&I exists to rip people off, not help them make informed decisions about the options available in connection with their purchase. As an agent, you need to bring paid claims to the attention of everyone at the dealership, so they see that these products do pay off.

One of the most important things you can do to help your dealers sell more products is to (#12) instill the expectation of continuous improvement. Training cannot be an event; it has to be an ongoing process. Creating a monthly training calendar with daily training activities will help managers recognize that training is never over for the professional. You can’t expect anyone to achieve their goals without giving them a way to get there. You also must monitor your F&I managers’ training activities, not just their performance. If you want performance to improve, you have to monitor effort, not just results!

Of course, it still comes down to (#13), show me the money! You have to ensure that your dealers implement a performance-based pay plan that rewards (and reinforces) the dealership’s commitment to all F&I products. The F&I manager’s compensation percentage should increase based on either product index (the total of penetration percentages) or the PPRU, their products per retail unit. There should also be a CSI component, $PRU component and a training component!

Keep in mind, there’s always (.3) those three little questions every dealer, every sales manager, every sales person, every service manager and every F&I manager asks themselves about you:

  1. Can I trust you?
  2. Do you know what you are talking about?
  3. Do you really care about me as a person, or are you just trying to sell me something?

How they answer those three questions will ultimately determine how successful you, and your agency, become.

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This article was written by:

- has written 10 posts on Agent Entrepreneur.

Ron Reahard is president of Reahard & Associates, Inc., an F&I training company providing F&I classes, as well as in-dealership and online training. Ron conducted the workshop "F&I in an X & Y World" at the 2008 NADA Convention and "Closes That Always Get A 'Yes!'" at the 2009 F&I Conference & Expo. He can be contacted at 866-REAHARD or ron@go-reahard.com.

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The views expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Agent Entrepreneur or any employee thereof.

6 Responses to “13.3 Ways To Help Your Dealers Sell More Products”

  1. Eddie Brooks says:

    Ron, really, really great stuff. Thanks.

  2. Fantastic article Ron!!

  3. Mark Fiorini says:

    Good stuff. I will use with my agents.

  4. Jeff Harkins says:

    Nicely done Ron, as always…

  5. Good stuff – makes us take an inventory to access our talents , weak and strong.

  6. Z. Galfano says:

    Bravo!

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