To Boldly Go Where No Menu Has Gone Before…

By: AE Staff Writer

To Boldly Go Where No Menu Has Gone Before…

While attending the recent Agent Conference in Las Vegas, surrounded as I was by over 200 attendees for the inaugural event, a line by Luis Garcia of Safeguard stands out in my memory. Luis said, “I don’t care which menu you use, as long as you use one.”

Luis’s workshop “5 Elements of True Income Development: Pricing, Menu, Pay Plans, Training and Reporting” caught the audience’s attention with its high energy delivery and the substance of the presentation, hence the quote above. We are 10 years into computerized menus now (non-automated menus have been around a lot longer) and it is amazing that there are still late adopters out there that don’t have some form of F&I presentation software, or have it and don’t really use it.

Your dealers understand that each customer deserves to hear all that the store has to offer, right? How can we retrospectively assure the dealer that his exposure has been mitigated and his orders have been carried out with every deal? On the producer’s worst day, was the deal disclosed properly and were all the options offered, both financial and otherwise?

These are tough questions to answer honestly without some form of technology to quickly bounce between let’s say, finance and lease options, plus a myriad of aftermarket options in any conceivable combination. Would you rather have your client’s F&I producers flipping through a paper service contract pricing matrix and making a mistake, or would you rather have them conducting a needs analysis and crafting a deal that satisfies the customer’s wishes and budget while maximizing the dealership’s profit and retention opportunities?

Are your client’s deals memorialized is such a way that it would be easy to view not only the exact details, but the process through which the final agreement was derived? Is it possible to get reports on this activity in real time? All of the Great Automotive F&I Pundits agree that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth measuring. Do you or your dealers really know if the menu is being utilized as designed on every deal?…or is the producer just printing a menu to make the dealer happy and getting the customer to sign it? Solve this in all of your dealerships and production will grow for your dealers and your agency.

It is a tall order to expect a menu or any other F&I presentation software to miraculously turn a three-hundred-dollar-a-copy wonder into a thousand-dollar-a-copy producer, but as is often the case with the disciplined and consistent use of a menu and a modicum of people skills and sales ability, results are outstanding. CSI improves and the delivery process is streamlined. Perhaps agents should be recommending to dealers that having a signed final menu in every deal should be a condition of employment if they are not doing this already.

Regarding compliance and the risks your dealer clients take every day, imagine the satisfaction the next time one of your dealers gets a call from the law firm of Dewey, Cheatem, & Howe that a customer is bringing suit against him and he simply faxes the signed menu to the law firm and never hears from them again. Let’s hope it’s not one of your dealer clients that can’t put their hands on that document – unless your dealers like paying retainers and sending their lawyer’s kids to Ivy League schools. You see, there is a method to the madness of the menu; a lot of folks think it’s just a great way to make money, but in reality, it’s much, much more. It’s a sales tool wrapped in a compliance envelope connected to the world wide web and your DMS system. The menu could be a portal to the universe of lenders, product providers, rating engines, e-contracting solutions, accountability programs, and retention tools.

If we recognize that the demands we place on our F&I producers has reached or even exceeded capacity, anything we can do to facilitate the process, increase accuracy, and prevent a debilitating experience for the parties is bound to be valuable. Can we and our dealers afford not to make these tools available to our people? Can we afford not to train them in their proper use? Can our dealers afford the consequences if they don’t? Can you believe that we still have to ask these questions in 2011?

Using some form of F&I presentation software has been a game changer for the industry. There are serious development agents out there that would pass on a deal if a prospective dealer client will not commit to the use of a menu. So unless you live in a third-world country and are still waiting for dial up internet access, the choice is clear. The path has been blazed and most of the bugs have been worked out – the technology is only going to get better.

So, for those dealer clients out there that still don’t use F&I presentation software, we as agents should encourage them to boldly go where no menu has gone before…into their dealerships!

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One Response to “To Boldly Go Where No Menu Has Gone Before…”

  1. Ken Hilliard says:

    Great Article! I actually had an agent ask today “you mean there are dealers still not menu sellng?”. With the ever increasing number of options available, educated consumers, and red-flag/compliance issues today, if the F&I department is not relying on a strong menu included in the presentation it is more than a possibility that mistakes are being made – some of which can cost the dealer more than missed income.

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