Tag Archive | "F&I"

Warranty Solutions and the Arbor Day Foundation Celebrate the Planting of More Than 1.7 Million Trees


Lakewood, Colo.– Warranty Solutions through its partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation is pleased to announce that together we have planted more than 1.7 million trees in our nations forest. The partnership between the two entities began in 2009 to help improve air quality, water quality, mitigate the effects of climate change, combat deforestation and prevent species loss. To-date, the number of trees planted would offset the emissions of approximately 5,856 cars for one year.

In 2009, Warranty Solutions launched the eco-friendly EcoMind product option, providing additional mechanical breakdown coverage for the parts that help vehicles run more efficiently, burn fuel more cleanly and reduce overall emission output. Throughout the last nine years of Warranty Solutions’ partnership with the Arbor Day Foundation, on average, 25 trees were planted for each EcoMind product option purchased.

Agent Partner, Cary Berman, said “Most of our customers are parents and they purchase the EcoMind product option for the benefit of future generations. EcoMind helps to keep the vehicle running clean, and at the same time, we work with the Arbor Day Foundation to plant trees.”

Plantings have occurred in 18 forests nation-wide including: Big Thompson Canyon, CO, Washington Department of Natural Resources NW Region, WA, Washington Klickitat District, WA, Tillamook State Forest, OR, Idaho National Forest, ID, Modoc National Forest, CA, Plumas National Forest, CA, Pike National Forest, CO, Black Forest, CO, Upper Altamaha River Watershed, GA, Bayfield County Forrest, WI, Pere Marquette State Forest, MI, Michigan State Forest, MI, Manchester State Forest, SC, Little River State Forest, AL, Cary State Forest, FL, Bastrop State Park, TX and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley, MS.

“We are grateful for the stewardship of our nation’s forests by Warranty Solutions and the example they set,” said Dan Lambe, President, the Arbor Day Foundation. “Because of their commitment forests and the lives they impact have been changed for the better across our great nation.”

Founded in 1972, the Arbor Day Foundation has grown to become the largest nonprofit membership organization dedicated to planting trees, with more than one million members, supporters, and valued partners. Their vision is to help others understand and use trees as a solution to many of the global issues we face today, including air quality, water quality, climate change, deforestation, poverty and hunger.

As one of the world’s largest operating conservation foundations, the Arbor Day Foundation, through its members, partners like Warranty Solutions, and programs, educates and engages stakeholders and communities across the globe to involve themselves in its mission of planting, nurturing and celebrating trees. More information is available at arborday.org.

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That Crazy Columbo!


Most of us have laughed at the crazy efforts of Lieutenant Columbo to lull criminal suspects into letting their guard down and then watched as he would get information that no one else could. An article in the American Bar Association Journal even reported that the best way to interrogate a suspect is to “Think Columbo.” I loved the TV show and what the character has taught us about human behavior. Here are two reasons why his efforts worked so well.

1. People Will Open Up Once They Feel the Interrogation Is Over.

Many times, a customer in a car dealership is subjected to a process that is nothing less than an interrogation. The value of a customer interview at the salesperson’s desk has long been debated; however, most customers feel they are being interrogated.

I have always advocated that we ask the questions needed once we make them comfortable in the F&I office. If a customer encounters the typical list of discovery questions, they know we are just like everyone else and that we are digging for something. One of the most valuable efforts an independent agent can provide to dealerships is to assure that the F&I process is a comfortable conversation, not an interrogation.

Everyone who has ever undergone an “interrogation” knows that the person asking the questions is trying to harm them, trap them, or move them to say or do something they don’t want to. In the F&I office, it comes across more like we are trying to sell them something, not help then make a good decision. Using a little creativity can gather the information you need and, more importantly, once they realize the interrogation they were expecting is not happening, they will open up and tell you more than you may even need to know!

2. Charisma, Great Salesmanship and High-Pressure Techniques Don’t Move Customers to Buy the Products They Need.

Columbo was known for his disheveled appearance, rumpled trench coat and a stumbling command of the English language. I am not advocating we dress shabbily and butcher the King’s English! However, I am advocating we stop trying to dazzle customers with what we are all about and focus more on what they are all about. It’s not the most charismatic person that moves customers to consistently buy. It is the skilled and practiced professional who knows how to build deep connections that lead to real discussions.

The person who uses the Columbo perspective from the start of their engagement with each customer experiences a much easier effort to move them from “No” to “Yes.” We don’t get paid to sell products. We get paid to guide customers through a process that makes “Yes” easy. And when they don’t see that “Yes” is the best answer, the effort of using their own words to enable them to see their need of the product you are discussing is effective and fun! That demands that we focus on urging the customer to do most of the talking, not listening to us.

When a customer says no to everything, simply state, “Absolutely! These are just options, and if you thought you were going to have problems with this vehicle, you would have bought something else, right?” Then have them sign the menu and put it away. Break eye contact and turn away to start the next task. They just got away with murder. They told you “No” and you dropped the subject! Their guard is down. So now re-engage them with a question that piques their interest. “I am a little confused. I think we might be missing something, especially after what you said earlier.”

If you have spent most of your time with the customer focused on getting their guard down and listening to them, your next statement is a response for more information. That’s a different and more productive discussion.

Crazy Columbo could discover things that no one else could find, and you will too — if the focus is on them, not on you. The truth is many of your customers need the products you offer and will buy them if they meet a skilled professional who knows how to make it comfortable to open up. It’s the Crazy Columbo characters that win in the end. Want more winners on your team? Teach, support and train your team to focus on getting customers to open up, so the closing is easy!

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 with agents and F&I professionals is my passion!

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Your Competitive Advantage


During a recent (and rare) vacation along Florida’s Gulf Coast, I watched more evening TV than I have in quite some time. I was amazed by how many dealership commercials I experienced. It appeared that everyone was trying to gain a competitive edge with the cleverest marketing ideas and the guaranteed lowest price.

With today’s customer it is not marketing, price or product that will cause you to lose to the competition, it is the customer experience! The F&I experience is the one that customers remember the most, and since it is the last step in the car-buying process, it has a tremendous impact on overall satisfaction and the likelihood of repeat visits. If we want to change customer behavior, we must change the experience.

There are three specific demands that customers are making concerning the F&I experience. That represents three opportunities to gain a competitive advantage!

1. Value My Time!

Customers value their time almost as much as they value their money. The one thing we all find frustrating in all our retail purchase efforts is the time we must wait. If we find ourselves waiting in line at a fast food counter, airport travel desk, supermarket checkout or gas pump, we become very frustrated. Should we expect anything less from a customer who has just purchased a $35,000-plus vehicle? And if a customer is frustrated when they finally enter the F&I office, profits suffer.

Eliminating the wait for the F&I process produces a customer who is still excited about the purchase of their vehicle, and that is a definite competitive advantage.

2. Meet Me Early!

When the customer meets the F&I manager for the first time at the end of the buying process, they are defensive and filled with questions. They want to know who this person is, what are they going to do, and how long this is going to take. The F&I manager should meet the customer early in the process and, if they are financing, offer to take their information and submit it to the lender. Then the customer sees the F&I manager is working for them and trying to help them get the vehicle they want at a payment they can afford.

Once the customer reaches the F&I office the F&I manager has already had an opportunity to make a connection with them, get excited with them about their purchase and assure that they are perceived as someone they can be comfortable working with to complete their purchase. That’s another competitive advantage.

3. Help Me, Don’t Sell Me!

The process we use to build value in F&I products will determine if we are perceived as trying to help them make good decisions in connection with their purchase or if we are just trying to sell them something. If the F&I manager provides a lot of the two “L”s: laughter and listening, the process is comfortable and one in which the customer feels at ease asking for the knowledge and expertise of this helpful person.

We should never forget that money follows service everywhere it goes. Want to produce more profits and income? Help more customers! Providing a comfortable and helpful experience will do more to move customers to buy than any sales technique we can employ. And you guessed it: That’s another competitive advantage.

Customers’ frustration with the F&I portion of the sale is not a resistance to the products themselves but rather the experience. Great companies such as the Ritz-Carlton, Apple and Disney have all become leaders in their markets due to a focus on providing a great customer experience. And the profits seemed to take care of themselves. Their competitive advantage was the experience they provided and it is the same for the F&I office.

When it comes to providing a great experience for every customer in your dealer clients’ F&I offices, demand it, support it, train to it and compensate effectively to those that do it well. Hopefully I can go back to the beach and do some more research on this and get back to you!

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 with agents and F&I professionals is my passion!

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UDS Celebrates 35 Years


CLEARWATER, Fla. – United Development Systems, Inc. (UDS) celebrates 35 years of excellence in the F&I Performance arena.

UDS is a full service F&I Performance Company based in Clearwater, Florida. Founded by its President and CEO, Randy Crisorio, in 1982, UDS has been providing its F&I performance package to franchised dealers consisting of: 1) Top-Tier Product Suite, 2) Award-Winning Training, 3) In-Store Coaching and Development and 4) Unmatched Technology Offerings.

“We have achieved this milestone through the hard work and dedication of our team and our culture of delivering extreme value to our dealer partners,” says Randy Crisorio. He adds, “We will continue as market leaders for another 35 years through innovation and growth aimed at keeping our dealer partners ahead of the F&I curve.”

UDS maintains a well-diversified portfolio of product options for its Dealer Partners from some of the most recognized and trusted providers in the industry. UDS Training components include consistent classroom, dealership, and online applications, with Development to include in-store coaching, AutoMenu® delivery technology, AutoTracking® reporting technology, monthly Profit Analysis and Performance Review, as well as Incentive Administration, to name a few. Additionally, UDS brings expertise in various profit participation programs, including reinsurance, to maximize Dealer wealth.

For more information on UDS, and its broad scope of dealership offerings, please contact Brian Crisorio at (800) 282-1154 or visit www.UDSDealerServices.com.

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RoadVantage Voted #1 F&I Provider by Dealers Nationwide


RoadVantage has been voted the top F&I products provider by dealerships nationwide, winning the Diamond 2017 Dealers’ Choice award in the F&I Products category. This marks the third year in a row that RoadVantage has won an award in this category.

“It is a great honor to be recognized by dealers as their #1 choice for F&I products,” said Garret Lacour, CEO of RoadVantage. “We want to thank dealers nationwide for voting once more for RoadVantage, and we also want to acknowledge our RoadVantage team members, who work on a daily basis to provide the best customer service possible.”

Elected exclusively by automotive dealers and dealership personnel, the Dealers’ Choice Awards recognize the industry’s best providers. In 2015, RoadVantage won a Gold Dealers’ Choice award, followed by a Platinum Dealers’ Choice award in 2016.

“We’ve been working with RoadVantage for several years now, and I honestly can’t recall a single customer complaint,” said Eric Schimmels, general manager for the Hiley Auto Group. “I credit that to their exceptional handling of claims and customer service.”

To qualify for an award, a company must be among those that scored above the group average score in each category. Providers were rated in four areas: the product/service provided, customer support and service, overall value, and whether the dealer would recommend the provider.

“Everyone on the RoadVantage team helped us earn this award,” said Randy Ross, Senior Vice President of Sales for RoadVantage. “For us, it all comes back to our team’s dedication to providing a better customer experience, and this accolade signifies to us that our approach is working.”

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Hooked on a Feeling


I’m revealing my age when I recount “Hooked on a Feeling,” the 1969 hit by BJ Thomas. This song intimates the importance of an emotional connection. Emotionally connected customers buy more of your products and services, exhibit less price sensitivity, open up and talk more, and are more likely to recommend your dealer clients to their friends and family. Facts can help eventually get a customer to take action; however, that only happens after they have become emotionally attached to the product or what it will do for them.

The attempt to outsmart customers, back them in a corner with facts or overwhelm them with ‘knowledge’ went out with eight-track tape players. (Anyone under 50 is excused from knowing what that is!) There are several reasons why the endeavor to emotionally connect with customers is a trait shared by the most successful companies and individuals. Let’s review just a few.

Customers Remember the Way They Are Treated.

Customers don’t necessarily remember what you do for them as much as they remember how you made them feel. Emotionally connected customers are convinced that “This person gets me.”

Customers are not focused on understanding what their F&I managers have to offer. They are focused on finding someone who understands them. Many times, our effort and training to reach higher levels of profit is concentrated on techniques that will help customers understand our products more deeply. That effort should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself!

When we ask genuine questions to learn more about our customer, they naturally will do more of the talking. When a customer talks 70% of the time, and their F&I manager is intentionally listening, they feel they are understood.

Emotional Connections Make Customers Feel Special.

Emotionally connected customers feel the process is uniquely built upon their needs, not a scripted presentation. Questions uncover unique information about each customer. That leads to a personalized discussion based on what the F&I manager has learned.

The connection must go beyond the surface and focus on getting the customer to open up and talk about themselves. A connected customer will share things they never planned to because they never thought they would feel as comfortable as they do when a connected conversation takes place.

You Can’t Fake Listening.

To prescribe a product or solution before you have diagnosed why this particular customer needs the product being offered is F&I malpractice.

I was privy to a customer interaction involving an NFL player. He expected the conversation to turn to football. However, when the F&I manager discovered the customer had a twin brother who also played in the NFL, the conversation became more comfortable. An emotional connection took place resulting in laughter and in-depth insight into the needs of this customer.

Connection leads to comfort which leads to the result we are looking for: customer buy-in. Your training should focus less on getting buy-in and more on creating comfortable conversations.

General agents are well-versed in making great connections with dealers and dealership personnel. The same skills that have forged those relationships should be utilized to encourage the F&I team to focus on the strength of consistently connecting with customers on a deep level. Once the connection has been made, the F&I manager’s knowledge of the products will help seal the deal. The customer feels they have found a great place to buy a car and the dealership can count on their returned business. Everyone is “hooked on a feeling” That’s a win for everyone!

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 with agents and F&I professionals is my passion!

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