Way back in 1971, C.P. Snow wrote about technology in the New York Times. He said, “Technology… is a queer thing. It brings you great gifts with one hand, and it stabs you in the back with the other.”
Many dealers are voicing that sentiment these days. Far too few have done anything about it. Some have learned to use computer software with skill. They use the apps on iPhones, iPads, and Blackberries. They have created an effective Web site. They use Facebook and Twitter and LinkedIn for social networking. For others, these are merely words and technologies that test their ability to conduct both business and their private lives. Dealers, already feeling the brunt of the two-plus year recession and massive changes in the car industry, are becoming increasingly concerned about their ability to not only keep up, but to even remain in the playing field.
Why should dealers bother with such things? Isn’t the old way good enough? Nope!
Customers who always shopped on the lot are now shopping on the Internet before they take a step toward a dealership. They’ve researched every model in their price range and with the features they want. They’ve read a dozen articles about how to get the best deal. They’ve become more savvy than many sales people hired by dealerships; they know their credit score; they know where they can find the best price on insurance, window tinting, undercoating, you name it. Everything once sold to them by a finance officer from the menu is for sale on the Internet.
Don’t let them get a strangle hold on your customers! If you haven’t already checked this article on Edmunds.com, perhaps you should do so right now!
Confessions of an Auto Finance Manager In the Back Rooms of America’s Car Dealerships By Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor and Nick James
“Congratulations, you’re getting a great deal!” the car salesman says, pumping your hand. “Let’s sign the paperwork and you’ll be on your way in your new car!”
At first you’re relieved – the negotiating is over. But then the salesman walks you down a back hallway to a stark, cramped office with “Finance and Insurance” on the door. Inside, a man in a suit sits behind the desk. He greets you with a faint smile on his face. An hour later you walk out in a daze: The whole deal was reworked, your monthly payment soared and you bought products you didn’t really want.
What happened to your great deal?
You just got hit by the “F&I Man,” also called the finance officer. He waits in the back of every dealership for unsuspecting customers so he can increase the profit for the dealership and boost his commission.
In this four-part series, written by veteran auto finance manager Nick James, you will learn the F&I man’s tricks and how to avoid them. When you’re done, you’ll be ready to safely navigate this crucial part of the car buying process, and the F&I man will never work his “magic” on you again.
– The Editors at Edmunds.com
Are you still ushering your customers into the office of your “F&I Man”? No? You have a Web site? You update it once a month? You have a tech-savvy employee who checks your e-mail messages every morning? BUT… how would you answer these questions?
When your potential customers come to your Web site, what resources do you have available to steer them away from online financing? Do you have a quick reference guide for their buying the vehicle that fits their budget and your financing terms? Is the information presented in a complete, forthright and friendly manner? Does it enlist confidence and trust? Will readers feel they’d get a no-nonsense financing deal from you?