F&I for the Age of the Customer

by Jason Barrie

One in three Americans would rather go to the DMV, do their taxes or sit in the middle airplane seat than go through the process of buying a car. Less than 1% of car buyers like the current car buying process, and 66% of car shoppers are much more likely to buy from a dealership with their preferred experience.

There are many steps in the car-buying process that need to be improved to provide that preferred experience. But one of the biggest opportunities to meet changing customer expectations is the F&I process – where customers spend more than a quarter of their total time at the dealership when buying a car, according to Cox Automotive’s 2016 Emotional Connections Research and 2017 Car Buyer Journey.

We’re in The Age of the Customer; today’s customers are empowered to do their own research and question the businesses they choose to patronize. For the F&I process, this means customers want the chance to educate themselves on products before they make a purchase. According to the Cox Automotive Finance & Insurance study, nearly two-thirds of consumers are more likely to purchase F&I products if they can learn about those products on their own time.

We’re several years into The Age of the Customer, a business cycle that experts estimate will last around 20 years, so don’t wait to change. Here are three areas your F&I process can improve upon to meet customer expectations.

Make the Most of Their Time

According to an IHS Automotive Buyer Influence study, the amount of time it takes to complete a purchase is the number one frustration of car buyers – so don’t leave your customers waiting idly. Instead of leaving customers with a cup of coffee and a Time magazine while they wait, empower them to educate themselves on your F&I offerings. With Dealertrack’s eMenu for iPad®, you can enable a better experience for customers with a tablet loaded with the F&I product and pricing info they are interested in, so they can spend their wait time researching products of interest.

Make It Interactive

When your customers enter the F&I office, they’ve already done a lot of work. They’ve likely already been at your store for about two hours, and they probably spent about 15 hours researching vehicles before they every stepped foot in your showroom, according to the 2017 Cox Automotive Car Buyer Journey study. So to keep them interested in your offerings, your F&I presentation has to be interactive and engaging.

Instead of black-and-white text on a page, engage your customers with photos, videos and easy-to-understand descriptions of your products – presented on a device like a tablet that the customer can interact with. With eMenu for iPad®, customers drive the conversation forward with a few quick “accept” or “reject” swipes on an intuitive interface that updates in real time. At the same time, F&I managers have the chance to upsell the benefits of declined products while staying in compliance.

Make It Personal

Nine out of 10 consumers prefer a unique, personalized car-buying journey, according to the Cox Automotive Future of Digital Retail Study, so don’t give them a generic F&I presentation. Instead, show your customers you understand their unique needs with a unique presentation, built around the specific vehicle the customer is purchasing. With eMenu for iPad®, you can even make adjustments in real time based on the feedback you receive.
Make improvements in each of these three areas, and in no time you’ll see happier customers – and higher profits.

Watch the video to learn more about how Dealertrack’s eMenu for iPad can improve customer experience – and your bottom line.

A version of this post originally appeared in Dealer Marketing Magazine.

Jason Barrie is the Vice President and General Manager of Dealertrack F&I, Dealer. Have a question? Connect with Jason on LinkedIn.

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