The finance department has never been more critical to the success of a dealership than it is today. While there are several components necessary to build a strong F&I department, none are more important than the use of an F&I menu.
An F&I menu, used correctly, can solve several issues that challenge dealerships. First and probably most important is compliance. Full disclosure of every product, every time is guaranteed with the use of an F&I menu.
Using a menu requires a finance manager to offer all available products to all customers. If the dealership is offering products to one set of customers, they must offer them to all. Failure to do so exposes the dealer. Even worse, if something negative were to happen as a result of not being offered a product, the dealer could be held liable.
Additionally, the menu can be used to disclose base or starting payments before backend options. Using the menu in this manner aides in eliminating the potential for customers to not know the cost of the products they are purchasing, therefore improving the customer purchasing experience.
While having an F&I menu doesn’t guarantee your finance department is going to run $2,000 a copy, it does put your finance team in the best position to do so.
Building a Custom Menu
After a detailed customer interview, the F&I menu should be tailored to that specific customer. When building the menu, the finance team member should consider prior loan history, loan structure, term options, needs and benefits for the customer. The menu should provide specific customer benefits that will reduce the potential for financial misfortune.
Clearly communicating all the benefits of each package is essential to a successful menu presentation. The finance manager must listen to what the customer perceives is the biggest risk of the loan and vehicle ownership. While the customer’s opinion may differ from the menu presenter’s, the finance producer must remember the only one that matters is the customer’s.
While most would agree the mechanical coverage of a service contract is extremely important, several customers have felt that rental benefits are more important. My point is, failure to listen to what the customer feels is the largest benefit of a given product will often cost you the sale. Even worse, failure to disclose all the benefits of a given product eliminates the possibility of a customer potentially seeing that benefit, ultimately costing your team the sale.
The construction of the menu is often just as important as the interview. One of my best practices is to have three to four packages of products available to customers. After identifying the most needed and highest valued product, package that one with others. When offering three or more products as a package, disclose several potential benefits to pique their interest and raise the value of the package.
Our finance team always emphasizes the package, rather than individual products. Products are available to be purchased individually but rarely are presented in that manner. More often than not, if a customer is offered three packages, all including more than one product, and they see value in one of the products, they’ll purchase the package.
Lastly, the use of a well-constructed F&I menu can improve customer satisfaction and likely speed up a transaction. A menu helps put a customer in a position to make an informed decision as soon as they step into the F&I office. The price, payments, terms and packages are all clearly disclosed, helping to eliminate the potential for confusion.
Customers have become accustomed to having all the information right in front of them, so why shouldn’t they in the F&I office? And they often complain about how long it takes to go through the finance office. When you present a well-constructed F&I menu, customers who are most concerned about time will have a faster option than in a traditional F&I presentation, and will often select a package instead of individual benefits.
A custom-tailored, disclosure-oriented menu will improve the efficiency, CSI and profitability of your F&I department.
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