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Success_Guide- mobile
Success Guide

Having served dealers for nearly six decades, we know how important it is to evolve to meet the changing needs of customers. During these unprecedented times, adjusting quickly is increasingly important. To help dealers address their changing marketplace, we've created this guide to help you get started. Please reach out to us any time if you want to talk through some of your ideas or challenges.

Evolution of Digital Capabilities
Evolution of digital capabilities
Digital retailing has been a growing focus for dealers, as consumers demand a buying experience that is increasingly completed online. Driven by a heightened sense of health and safety, dealers are shifting priorities to meet the growing demand of the digital transaction.

Incorporating F&I Into Digital Retailing

Incorporating more of the F&I conversation in the digital retailing process is important to future success. F&I managers have already had to sharpen their skills to address increased margin compression and rising prices on new inventory. Many times, the F&I managers are responsible for driving profitability of the transaction through value-added services such as F&I products. To compound the issue, they must now complete the same task without the benefit of an in-person meeting. While this is a new hurdle in the F&I process, many of the best practices remain the same.

  1. Work with lenders to leverage online processes to secure financing and necessary forms, as well as approvals.
  2. Build value for F&I product options using digital tools like videos.
  3. Develop tools to present and promote protection products and maintenance programs. There are numerous options, and leading providers like Protective can assist with both pricing and coverage options.
  4. In lieu of meeting in person to outline the F&I products, provide buyers with digital options up front, then use phone calls and videoconferencing to review.
  5. Whether you’re selling face to face or digitally, the most common processes include identifying objections up front, explaining how the products meet the customer’s needs, soft close, and then a final close. Find (or create) a process that works for you and stick to it. In most cases, the process has been tested for success and could help you increase your numbers.
Addressing the signature
While most of the initial sales process can translate relatively well to online meeting software, agreements with lenders and F&I product providers are also a key part of the process. As a result, dealers and F&I managers already have some of the digital tools needed to address signatures.

In addition to compliance with lender requirements and state regulations, the signature is the most critical part of the sales process because it solidifies the deal*. There are some resources** that may help your team handle this process digitally. But first, it is important to build rapport with your customer and make the transaction fit their expectations. Make it easy for them to do business with you. They will be more willing to take the extra steps to complete the process with you during these uncertain times.

Here are some highly (consumer) rated “digital signature” options that may be familiar to your customers:

DocuSign, InsureSign, SignEasy, SignNow and eSign Genie.

* Please consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with necessary signature processes.

** Protective does not endorse any specific electronic signature vendors.

Contactless delivery

Even as local and state governments look at the safest ways to open businesses after COVID-19, providing a contactless delivery process can address customers concerns.

Consider promoting sanitizing measures as value-added services to heighten safety and customer satisfaction. Upon completion of the deal, dealers could offer delivery options that include a fully detailed and sanitized vehicle.

By investing in safety measures that add value to your customer’s experience, you’re building your brand for success and creating loyalty with each consumer. While these are great options to help facilitate the deal once the customer is in the store, we realize most dealerships are experiencing lower customer volume. A great way to keep the team engaged and on top of their game during these uncertain times is a robust training regimen.

Continuing and education training
Continuing education and training

At some point, we know the world will return to “normal,” and at that point consumers will be drawn to quality, professionalism and efficiency. We encourage F&I professionals to continue sharpening their industry knowledge and skills so they are prepared for the return to normal.

In addition to the soft skills training offered here, there are several best practices and program updates that could help you close more deals. Protective’s online training solutions provide product knowledge and professional skills necessary to be successful in today’s F&I industry. Each course is designed to maximize content retention with engaging videos, study guides and certifications.

F&I review
For most people, uncertain times prompt a review of current assets and their financial plan. This helps calibrate the current needs with previous aspirations. Have your investments performed as well as you forecast? Are the returns equal to the plan? Do the investments meet your needs today? Is your participation program working for you during these uncertain times? Many dealers are taking the time to review their F&I product mix and dealer participation programs to ensure their products and programs are aligned with their financial goals.
FI review
Your dealer participation program can make a significant difference financially during these uncertain times. As the market continues to fluctuate, you want to ensure your investments are protected and continue earning despite economic headwinds. How does the dealer and/or a management team go about this F&I alignment process?

5 Steps to F&I Alignment

It all starts with developing a plan with key milestones: Data drives decisions, so it is important to form a plan that includes milestone check-ins on a minimum of a quarterly basis.
As you form your plan, it is critical to define the objectives of the business, both in financial terms as well as understanding customer needs in your market, growth potential and re-calibration as the transportation industry evolves.
Consult the appropriate advisory group. You’ve built a team of sales executives that know the market, products and opportunities ahead of you. They could help provide valuable insights from inside the box. Once internal stakeholder data is incorporated, it is important to consult with financial, legal and industry experts. Talk to your CPA and tax attorney to understand how a shift in participation program can impact your financial position.
An important key to a successful F&I program and dealer participation program structure is partnering with an industry leader that can help align your F&I product mix and participation program with your goals. This is your money and your future. You need a partner you can trust with the experience to help identify the best options for your business.
Lastly, during the transition a well-structured implementation plan that includes training and communication is critical to customer satisfaction and future success of the program.

Participation program analysis

Product flexibility and control
Dealer goal alignment
Support and training
Simple low cost periodic payouts
More options upfront costs investment income
More options upfront costs investment income
Protective DOWC
C-Corp operating costs investment income
Provider with dealer specifications and dealer override authority
The DOWC (not the dealership)