The digital menu, whether offered via tablet, iPad or other device, is no longer a buzzword in the F&I arena. As we head into 2020, it has become commonplace in most dealerships’ F&I processes across the country.
The pervasive use of the digital menu has produced a new F&I misnomer — “digital menu selling.” There appears to be confusion surrounding the proper use of the menu. I’ve trained thousands of F&I managers over the last decade and have to stress that with any menu utilized, no matter the type or media, be it paper or digital, we must remember we are not selling anything. We are simply offering options to the customer. No one likes to be “sold” and we all want to feel like we are in control. The menu allows the F&I team to give control … in order to gain control.
In today’s “connected” society, digital is part of our everyday lives and plays a major role in consumers’ buying decisions. In fact, according to Autotrader, car buyers spend 59% of their time online prior to their purchase. Autotrader also found that customer satisfaction was only 67% when interactions with the F&I department were factored in. The digital menu allows the F&I manager to exceed the customers’ expectations because it not only shortens the time in F&I, but it also creates a menu based on the customers’ needs instead of the F&I manager’s pay plan.
The digital menu is meant to increase customer satisfaction by engaging the customer in the digital experience they are looking for. The media allows consumers to enjoy the transparency and the feeling of control it provides them. If dealers have not already done so, 2020 is the time to transition to a digital menu and leverage the engagement it provides. Working with an administrator that offers full integration with a dealer’s DMS and digital menu is highly recommended.
Once a digital menu is implemented, the key to success is training, training and more training! Most F&I managers have introduced a menu of some kind hundreds, if not thousands of times. A smooth transition to the actual menu presentation sets the table for what comes next, and this does not change with a digital menu.
Some F&I managers mistakenly allow a digital menu to take the place of their customer interview. The F&I manager still needs to be present to make sure the customer is providing the correct information and in case questions arise. Otherwise, wrong information will negatively affect the menu presentation.
While most customers feel comfortable using a tablet, some do not. So, it’s important to not just hand the tablet over to the customer and leave them alone to figure it out. F&I managers should hand the tablet to the customer and then continue to assist them in walking through the questions and options. The process is simple, streamlined and transparent. It gives the customer the feeling that the options presented are based on his or her actual needs, not something sold to them by the F&I manager.
I leased a vehicle recently and the F&I manager had a tablet, and it led to one of the worst experiences I’ve ever had in an F&I office. The F&I manager had the tablet facing him and read each question and then went into a sales pitch after each question, it was not only unprofessional, but extremely annoying. He did not present me with options, or allow me to control the flow of information or the menu process. All F&I managers must be wary of falling victim to “digital menu selling.”
In sum, the digital menu is an efficient and effective tool when utilized correctly; and the key to a great digital menu presentation (like any menu presentation) is training and practice, practice, practice. When a digital menu is installed in your stores, ensuring proper use of it allows you to leverage the fact that it satisfies the expectations and needs of today’s digital society by providing the transparency and engagement your customer is looking for — while simultaneously increasing product sales as an added bonus.