Dealership Tour: Why Should F&I Care?

A customer’s mood and perception of the deal has a huge effect on what
they buy in the finance office. The question becomes, “How can we best
control a customer’s mood and perception while they are in the

The most important thing is to keep the customer
from waiting around without knowing what’s going on. A couple of things
happen when they stand around. First, your customer tends to ask your
sales staff, “How much longer is this going to take?” When that happens,
the salesperson will usually reply, and I quote, “About five more
minutes.” It’s never just five more minutes, is it? About the third time
the salesperson gives some variation of this answer, the customer gets
upset. This gets the salesperson upset. This gets the sales manager
upset, and he or she will hurry the customer into finance. As I am sure
you would agree, when finance is rushed and the customer is hurried it
costs money.

I am here to tell you there is a better way.

most profitable dealerships in the nation keep the customer occupied
while finance is getting the customer approved, loading the deal and
prepping paperwork (which takes time). They do this by giving them a
dealership tour.

A dealership tour is the simple process of
having the customer visit all departments in the dealership. Here is how
it should go down.

As soon as a customer agrees to make a major
unit purchase, the customer file goes to finance to pull the customer’s
credit file. After finance has checked the customer’s debt ratio and
looked over the finance application for legibility and accuracy, etc.,
the finance manager meets the customer, and they make small talk for a
minute or so. Next, the finance person verifies the information on the
credit application. In order for the application to be processed
quickly, you must have information that is accurate and complete. The
last thing finance does is give the customer a realistic estimation as
to how long it will be before he or she will be ready to complete their
paperwork. This timeframe should give finance enough time to get an
answer back from the bank, load all information into your DMS and
generate the needed paperwork.

As soon as the finance manager is
done with his or her first meeting with the customer, the salesperson
introduces the customer to a member of the parts department. After the
parts person has shown the customer everything that is available for
their vehicle, planted a seed for your priority maintenance program and
hopefully sold some parts, they deliver the customer to the service

A service writer or dedicated delivery person goes
through all break-in procedures, vehicle operation and maintenance
required. This is the perfect time for them to mention the maintenance
program and/or service contract. (They plant the seed, but they don’t
sell the program, finance will do that.) After service has gone over the
customer’s new machine, they bring the customer back into the showroom
and return them to the salesperson. The salesperson lets the finance
manager know the customer is ready.

When finance is ready for the
customer, they bring the customer into the office. At this time,
finance sells their products and completes all paperwork.

instead of your finance manager rushing through the paperwork trying to
make sure the customer doesn’t leave, he or she has:

  • Eliminated possible time-costing mistakes by verifying the customer’s information
  • Given the customer a realistic time expectation so he or she doesn’t ask the salesperson
  • Occupied the customer’s time by sending them to parts and service to buy accessories and go over the bike
  • Helped the customer take more mental ownership by having them buy gear and parts
  • Delivered the bike while waiting on finance to create more mental ownership
  • Planted seeds for maintenance and service contract sales through the parts and service departments

dealerships adopt this process, I usually hear that there are even more
unforeseen advantages to the added communication and teamwork than they
would have imagined. 

Steve Dodds II is a moderator, trainer
and consultant for Gart Sutton and Associates with experience in every
position in the sales and finance departments. Dealers rave about his
ability to identify areas for improvement and implement the changes that
produce superior results. If you have questions about what he or one of
our other talented consultants can do for you, contact us at [email protected].  

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