One of the greatest challenges to overcome in the F&I office is helping dealership customers understand the value proposition behind F&I products. Customers have just gone through the process of selecting their next vehicle – a major purchase decision – and as a result, they’re often exhausted and ready to leave as quickly as possible. The last thing these customers want to do is listen to another sales spiel or tack on more expenses to the large investment they’ve just committed to. As a result, the F&I managers have to be able to quickly and effectively help customers understand how F&I products protect their investment and can potentially save them hundreds — or even thousands — of dollars.

When F&I managers are faced with tired customers who are often not aware of ancillary products and not receptive to hearing about them, how do we quickly and effectively change this scenario into a positive experience?

Building customers’ trust is one key to opening those doors and making this a winning interaction for both sides. It doesn’t hurt to have additional resources the consumer likely already trusts, such as AAA, a brand that consumers have relied on for years in the event of an emergency. The brand is so well-known, in fact, that it has almost become the generic word for roadside assistance. So when AAA releases a study that F&I managers can point to in the presentation, trust is far easier to win.

In this case, the study in question focused on potholes. The AAA study revealed the average bill for pothole repairs is $300, and consumers often face pothole-related repairs more than once over the life of their vehicle. The pothole problem isn’t limited to one single region, either: 16 million drivers across the United States have suffered from pothole damage at some point.

According to the AAA study, 2 out of 3 Americans are concerned about pothole damage, and those on the income spectrum below $75,000 annually are the most concerned. So why aren’t more of those consumers investing in Tire & Wheel programs? This is where the F&I manager can help customers make the connection between pothole damage and Tire & Wheel protection.

Studies from sources like AAA aren’t the only resource an F&I manager can use to illustrate the value proposition of ancillary products. F&I and Showroom had a great article breaking down some of the most popular visual tools top F&I managers across the country use to great success – tools that any F&I manager, in any dealership, can put to good use.

  • Fake Spills: To sell interior protection products, one effective prop is the “fake” spill. One F&I manager has a coffee spill that he notes customers invariably point out, allowing him to start the conversation about accidental stains that even the most careful driver often encounters.
  • Carpet Samples: Another option is to treat a small piece of sample carpeting with the protection in question, invite customers to mark it with a Sharpie marker or spill a beverage on it, and then show them how easy it is to clean. By demonstrating the protection directly, with real-world objects they might encounter, it takes the product from a theoretical idea to practical protection.
  • Water Bottles: One F&I manager keeps a metal water bottle in his office, pointing out that the metal of the bottle is similar to the thin metal of the car’s exterior — and then he taps it on the side of his desk to show how little force is needed to mar the surface. This can help make dents and dings a real occurrence rather than just something customers just read about on a contract.
  • Photo Books: Despite technology being so prevalent in today’s society, sometimes it helps to go back to basics. A photo book or product point-of-sale materials that feature before and after shots enable consumers to see real-world examples of each product.

For F&I managers, tools like the AAA study provide concrete and credible information consumers are willing to trust, and props help take the products from words on paper to physical problems that can be solved. These tools help position the F&I manager as a trustworthy resource who is trying to help consumers protect their new investment.

This post was written by: Garret Lacour, CEO RoadVantage