In a recent article in Dealer Marketing Magazine, it was pointed out that there continues to be a fairly large discrepancy between the “ideal” length of time dealerships believe customers should move through a deal and the actual time it takes. More than a quarter of respondents — dealership owners and managers — said they believe it should take less than an hour to complete a deal. However, only 11{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} are actually achieving that benchmark. An additional 43{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} believe the process should take under two hours, but even then, only 31{137f86425451f0eed4391b215cab1f0aedcc26ced4aeb45d9a5267c3194b8614} are hitting that number.

Unfortunately, the F&I department is seeing some of the slowest times. “Dealers cited transition time from sales to F&I as the biggest slowdown and agreed that the time it takes to complete the F&I portion of the car-buying process is the biggest obstacle to CSI success: over half reported that wait time, either in F&I or the dealership, constitutes the number one pain point for consumers,” the article stated.

It did note that those numbers are improving as dealerships are getting customers into F&I faster, and F&I managers are getting more involved in the deal from the start. But there is still more to be done.

One thing that can help is educating customers about F&I in advance – by including information on dealer websites, for example.

But the biggest opportunity lies in training. And not just for new hires, or for those being promoted into the F&I office, but for every F&I manager in every dealership, on an ongoing basis. Training ensures every manager in the department is up-to-date on the dealership’s technology, processes, product features, sales tools and sales methods. And by having ongoing, consistent training, those concepts, along with the values of the dealership, are reinforced and strengthened, allowing the F&I managers to hone their presentations to be as efficient and effective as possible.

We understand the cost of ongoing training can add up fast, but that is where online training comes in. It doesn’t have to be an all or nothing, zero sum game. Having a trainer come in or sending F&I managers to training seminars once a year for intensive learning is fine. But for the rest of the year, online resources, some of which are free, can be a great asset. F&I managers can do these courses on a weekly or monthly basis, from their office — setting aside an hour a week or month is far preferable to losing them for a day or more. And using online training modules reinforces those longer in-person training sessions, meaning the investment in time and resources for “offline” training events is more likely to stick, and becomes more valuable.

Online training is going to be a key component for the future of our industry. But it’s not just about training the F&I managers on the process, or even on the technology to speed up the consumer wait time in a dealership. It’s also about providing the correct tools and resources to allow F&I managers to communicate the true value of F&I products effectively and efficiently. That’s why we’ve launched our YouTube channel, where we’re creating content that every dealer can access and use for free, to help educate consumers on the value of F&I products and help speed up the time it takes to move through a deal.

We view the F&I industry as a whole — it must be a joint effort from both the dealers and the providers if we’re going to continue to shave time off the F&I process, and get consumers out the door faster. We want to be a resource for dealers, so we can help everyone raise the quality of F&I in dealerships.

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This post was written by: Garret Lacour, CEO RoadVantage

Published: December 14, 2016

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