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Close More Deals, Defend Your Market Share by Educating Buyers

Teaching customers F&I insider tips drives sales and keeps buyers happy.

Dave Robertson is the executive director of AFIP - the Association of Finance & Insurance Professionals

I’ve been watching the Carvana TV ads, and those of their kindred competitors, with more than a passing interest. I especially liked the one where a prospective customer and a customer service representative are standing in front of a refrigerator-sized machine that spits out a copy of the customer’s credit score. In another ad, a young lady states that she was able to get her car financed with no reduction in her credit score.  

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The common denominators appear to be a no haggling, “one-price” approach, and the need to address a wide range of credit concerns. The ads provide a good profile of the prospective buyers’ priorities and concerns — and underscore the importance of providing simple solutions.

In my way of thinking, the Carvana shopper isn’t any different from the majority of car buyers struggling to find a way to pay for a vehicle in the final throes of a pandemic economy. There must be hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of prospective buyers looking for guidance. Who better to answer their questions than F&I-savvy franchised dealers? 

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I’m talking about things you already know that, when shared with your customers, will put taillights across the curb and shekels in your pocket. For example:
• In our economic system, the sale of high-ticket consumer goods, such as houses and cars, are negotiated transactions that give the advantage to the buyer. A fixed sale price typically favors the seller.
• The internet is an incredibly rich and detailed source of information on every aspect of a vehicle sale, financing and voluntary protection products. Potential buyers will appreciate your offer of guidance on where to look for dealer-friendly consumer information.
• Special “thin credit file” programs may enable an individual with a limited, but good, credit history to finance a vehicle.
• The FICO Auto Enhanced program, only available to the selling dealer, may provide a boost to the customer’s credit score if they have a history of making their car payments on time.
• The credit reporting agencies allow a dealership financial services manager to submit a customer’s request for credit to multiple sources while only incurring a single “hit” on their credit file — within a specific period of time.
• Dealership financial services managers can use a technique to determine a customer’s credit worthiness without incurring a “hit” on their credit file.  

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One easy way to educate your potential customers is to include a “Savvy Buyer’s Tip” that corresponds to vehicles being advertised. For example, an ad aimed at first-time buyers might address the potential benefits of a “thin credit file” program. The periodic publication of Savvy Buyer’s Tips in local newspapers and magazines — or on TV and radio ads — will cast your store in a consumer-friendly light. 

Your marketing team might come up with a title that ties the tips to your dealership brand. Of course, the caveat to providing consumer guidance is that all content must be reviewed by a qualified attorney. 

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When you provide prospective buyers with tips and techniques that allow them to both meet their transportation needs and feel great about the transaction, it changes the dynamic of the buyer/seller relationship. The optimum car-buying experience is when both the buyer and seller see themselves as winners.

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