*This is Part II of a blog that was submitted by an anonymous NCM employee who recently visited local dealerships to purchase a vehicle. See Part I Here.
After finding the perfect car and being thoroughly impressed with the front-end experience at the dealership, I returned to Dealership A and purchased the vehicle from them. This enthusiasm was quickly soured due to the terrible back-end practices used by the finance manager and GSM. I wanted to share this experience with you because—even if one of these mistakes can be avoided in your business—both you and your customers will be happier with their purchase.
Internal Processes Are Meant to Be Internal
At NCM, I encourage and consult about operational improvements. I was pleased to see that my sales consultant was following Road to the Sale process throughout our visit. As a consumer, however, I didn’t like seeing the Road to the Sale flyer prominently positioned in his cube. If you’re using similar internal flyers, ensure they are stored digitally on the computer’s desktop or in a pocket-size guide. While this may seem like a small thing, it appeared unprofessional and made me uncomfortable as a customer to see their process of earning the most gross profit from me prominently displayed on the wall.
After I had selected my new car and signed the sales paperwork, I set an F&I appointment for 11 a.m. a few days later. I came in early to work and planned to complete my appointment over my lunch break. I arrived 10 minutes early, was greeted and lead to the F&I office and was told I’d have to wait for the F&I manager to wrap-up his previous appointment.
Two hours go by, and I am still waiting in the office for the F&I manager. After another 45 minutes, I found my sales consultant and asked if there was someone else who could help me. They only had one F&I manager, he said; so unfortunately, all I could do was continue to wait. At this point, I had no intentions of financing with the dealership or purchasing warranties. Why would I when this is the type of service I can expect for the department? When I finally met with the F&I manager, he let me know that there were other customers who had purchased cars from the showroom while I was waiting. Those customers were a higher priority, and he had to assist them first before helping me. I informed him that my appointment had been set for hours prior, and that I was already late heading back to work because of the lengthy delay. His response: “Appointments are not always guaranteed. You can wait or come back another day.” Don’t do or say these things to a customer.
Since I had a few hours to kill while waiting for my F&I manager, I looked for a GM or GSM that could potentially assist with getting my appointment started. During my search, I noticed the GSM was running around high-fiving sales consultants, updating the scoreboard (in view of customers?), and checking on customers walking around the showroom. I wondered if she assessed how many people were waiting in line for an appointment or recognize that she may need to be desking deals to create a positive experience. It was clear that variable operations got most of management’s attention in this dealership while the other departments were on their own.
Lack of Staff
It was clear that the F&I department was understaffed and stretched thin. At first, I felt bad for the F&I manager as he seemed overwhelmed and aggravated with his environment. However, that is not an excuse to offload his frustrations onto me—the customer. After three and a half hours of waiting at the dealership, he signed over my paperwork without reviewing any of the options with me. Instead, he chose to sign my paperwork in silence and finally grunted for me to have a nice day as he slid the paperwork over the desk.
This dealership’s F&I department needs to work on their processes and customer service skills. As a customer, I would have appreciated the GSM finding time to help get deals moving in F&I rather than only working the showroom.
Takeaways from My Experience
As I drove home in my new vehicle, I had a lot of mixed feelings about working with my dealership. The sales team was exceptional and really made me feel like they wanted to take care of my wants and needs in a new car. F&I however, was one of the worst experiences I have ever had when making a purchase from any business. My dealership placed focus on their sales teams while making sure their sales processes were top-notch. What they failed to realize, is that a sale doesn’t end with a sales consultant. The rest of the dealership spent much of their time putting out fires, regardless of how it affected the overall customer experience.
Whether you have a large and experienced F&I team, or your salespeople are selling cars cradle-to-grave, I hope you consider improving your F&I operations, investing in technology that makes this process more enjoyable for the consumer, and strive to improve your customer experience.
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