Don’t Be The F&I Guy

The customer's perception of your F&I guy can be a tough obstacle to overcome. Read on for some pointers on how to transform your finance department's image.

One of the biggest challenges finance managers face is something that I rarely hear discussed — it’s the customer’s perception of the F&I or finance guy.

We’ve all heard these comments:

  • “Don’t let them sell you anything in there.”
  • “All the stuff they sell in there is a rip-off.”
  • “When I went into the finance office at the car dealership, all of the numbers changed. They tried to rip me off!”

How Do We Change This Perception?
First, we have to admit that, as much as we don’t like it, most customers don’t see any difference between auto and powersports dealers when it comes to the finance office. I have yet to hear the words, “The finance manager was such a nice guy.” Most of us hear the exact opposite. The saying, “If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s a duck” comes to mind. So how do we change this perception?

Don’t Be A Duck
Don’t be called a “finance manager.”

Think about your title. How do customers feel about business managers, paperwork people or customer service managers? Customers tend not to have had the same negative experiences with people with these titles.

Why would a cash customer even need to talk with the finance manager? They are not financing! I have heard customers ask that very question.

Don’t Dress Like A Finance Manager
Please, whatever you do, don’t wear a tie! A business manager should dress a step above the sales staff, but remember that you are working in a motorcycle shop. Business casual is about as dressy as you want to go.

Don’t Act Like A Finance Manager
If you act like the slick-talking finance manager that customers hate, they will assume that you are one, and they will put up their guard.

You want to use a low-key, attentive and professional approach. Listen and respond in a relaxed, conversational manner. This will put them at ease so that when they leave your office, they will feel like they made the buying decision, not that they were sold on your products.

Don’t Have An Office That Looks Like A Finance Manager’s Office
The typical finance office has information about warranty coverage on the walls and desk along with gap claims, Lo-Jack recovery info and, worst of all, brochures. When a customer walks into this environment, they instantly put up their guard.

What should the office look like? First, get everything out of sight that looks like a selling tool. Those should be in a drawer for you to use when needed, but they should not be visible when the customer enters the office. The office should have framed powersports pictures and posters on the walls — action shots, not POP materials. Pictures of you riding are even better.
The walls should be painted a color you would use to paint your living room, not a prison or closet.

The furniture should look nice and be comfortable. The customer’s chair should be one you would have in your house. The side of the desk that the customer sits on should have an overhang so they can sit and sign their paperwork comfortably. This might sound like a small detail, but when it comes to the customer’s perception, it is huge.

Don’t Talk Like A Finance Manager 
Avoid words or phrases such as:

  • Entitlements
  • Benefits
  • Packages
  • Calling a new motorcycle, ATV, etc. a “unit”
  • Any industry jargon
  • Other sales words

When the customer feels like you are there to serve them rather than act as another way for the dealership to make money, you will see better customer service scores, experience more return business, and your department will generate more profit. 

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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