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Integrating Desking and F&I to Boost Sales and Profits

Written By: Rebecca Chernek
Posted on April 21, 2015

I developed my Desking and F&I Integration workshop to address the single biggest factor limiting sales and profits in dealerships today – the bottleneck that exists between the sales and F&I department. It’s caused by an entrenched “Us vs. Them” mentality that evolved during the F&I industry’s first quarter century. Because “it’s always been this way,” dealers accept it as the status quo.

The lack of integration between sales and F&I yields only negatives. It’s the reason customers like the True Car model. They’re tired of games. They want straight talk. They’re tired of being dragged through the mud. They’re tired of waiting for hours at the dealership, only to find they can’t get financed for the car they thought they’d be driving home that day.

Desking and F&I Integration takes a hard look at the problem, why it exists, and offers proven solutions. My workshop provides a system that delivers a seamless, transparent and resoundingly positive customer experience – while boosting sales and profit! Because it requires teamwork between sales management and F&I managers, I recommend that dealerships send a representative from each department to attend the workshop.

Before you can fix something, you have to recognize why it doesn’t work.

I get workshop attendees thinking about how things work at their dealership – and how they should work. We’ll talk about how important it is to have a meeting of the minds between sales managers and F&I – and the customer.

We address issues that impact the overall customer experience, from how the sales department exchanges information about the sale, to finalizing the deal with the F&I manager. When is the best time to talk payments – before or after the customer goes into the F&I office? We talk about why not having a true meeting of the minds will undermine your menu every time – and reduce profits earned.

We talk about why establishing credit criteria earlier in the sale process helps to properly land the customer on a vehicle he can afford. And why structuring the unit earlier in the process allows for more units sold – while maximizing profits and limiting liability.

I share why it’s so important to conduct what I call “The Interview,” to qualify the customer and establish value points for later menu sales. The Interview occurs during the meet-and-greet and during the transaction review process, but it’s essential to expediting the sale and maximizing profits.

Besides contributing to the customer’s sense of a seamless process, having the F&I manager engage with the customer earlier in the buying process to learn the reason behind limited credit or slow pay history will pay off in several ways. Getting the story from the customer can result in stronger call-back decisions and fewer declined offerings. And the F&I manager can use information gathered during the meeting at the sales person’s desk to reduce customer resistance to products offered later during the menu presentation. Taking the time to meet with the customer briefly will cut delivery time in half.

How will the customer perceive the introduction to F&I? Will the customer see it as a one- or two-step process? Do old methodologies increase customer resistance? Has the sales department been concise with the buying numbers? Do we have a true meeting of the minds before the customer makes his way into the F&I office?

Why is that important? It’s all about the bottom line. With an F&I bottleneck, it takes too much time to deliver the car… is the paper work straight? Is the deal checklist complete and ready to go? What if the customer isn’t approved?

We’ll talk about why time is your worst enemy – deterring sales and reducing profits. If the dealer expects to use menu selling, how does that work if all the terms haven't been confirmed with the customer prior to the menu presentation? Would it make sense to confirm the transaction prior to a menu presentation – and why is that so important?

The system I propose takes into account that every customer is different. I offer suggestions for managing subprime customers to enhance the customer’s experience and maximize dealer profit while limiting liability.

The workshop culminates in role-play sessions that allow attendees to practice what they’ve learned. It’s an excellent opportunity for sales managers and F&I people to work through new word tracks and hand-offs to another team member.

The “Us vs. Them” mentality is a dinosaur throwback that only drags the customer, sales manager, F&I manager, and dealership down. Customers and the marketplace have changed – it’s time to evolve and thrive in this new landscape.

Attendees will return to their dealerships ready to implement a system that will speed up delivery, putting wheels over curb in a fraction of the time compared to when your sales team and F&I staff were at loggerheads. Your F&I manager will have been able to present a menu to a trusting customer who appreciates the transparent process and the dealership team that understands his needs. Your satisfied customer will tell everyone he knows, and you’ll be delivering more units in one day than you ever thought possible.

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