F&I Ain’t Rocket Science

Real rocket science makes our jobs in the F&I office seem really simple. What we do is definitely not rocket science, but the more I think about it, maybe the process is similar to building a rocket.

Tempur foam, Velcro, Teflon, Tang, cordless tools and ball point pens that write upside down — these are all are inventions that were born out of the space race. Those and thousands of other important products that we use in our everyday lives came from our efforts to send mankind into the stars. Literally, they were all a result of “rocket science.”

I was lucky enough to be in downtown Austin in September when the shuttle Endeavour was being piggy-backed on the 747 for its trip to a museum as the space shuttle program came to an end. Wow! It was an impressive fly over.

As the shuttle goes into the history books, I found myself reflecting on all of the genius and intelligence that it took to get to this point in our space travels. It really awes me, and it puts things in perspective.

Real rocket science makes our jobs in the F&I office seem really simple. What we do is definitely not rocket science, but the more I think about it, maybe the process is similar to building a rocket.

A real rocket scientist (aerospace engineer) once told me that the most crucial part of getting a rocket into space was actually clearing the first inch off of the ground. Getting started is always the hardest and most crucial point in any successful space mission, and the same thing is true of the F&I process. The first stage in our process is crucial to the success of our efforts.

Stage One: The Customer Interview.
The objective of the customer interview is to create rapport and familiarity between the F&I person and the customer, and to gather information that will make selling the customer products and services easier in the following stages. It is important that the interview be performed outside the office on the floor in a casual and relaxed manner. It is crucial that the interview is executed with each and every customer to get the mission off the ground.

Our F&I rocket has three stages. In a multi-stage rocket, the first stage is at the bottom and is usually the largest, with the subsequent stages above it, usually decreasing in size. The same is true of our stage one customer interview. Executed properly, the time spent on subsequent stages is smaller in duration and effort!

Stage Two: Disclosures and Menu Presentation.

The objective of this stage is to launch us into orbit with a commitment to a product package. Program offerings are disclosed with the basic benefits available with each product, and the customer is given the opportunity to choose from the options that best suit their needs. This is a necessary step not only as the first swing of the sales process, but also as a compliance tool.
 A menu presentation is the simplest and surest fuel we have to drive our rocket into orbit. A dealer group in Florida who recently implemented a menu system in their four dealerships reported a 40 percent increase in product sales using the same products and the same F&I staff.

Stage Three: Overcoming Objections.

The final stage in our rocket has to contain the capsule that lands us safely on the moon. In our F&I universe, that equates to our ability to overcome objections to our products. Our ability to execute this stage is what ultimately determines whether or not we live to fly other missions.
The objective of this stage is to build value in the products that allow the customer to see their needs being met by the benefits available. This stage requires multiple maneuvers and expertise at the controls. Our success at this point is largely determined by how we performed in Stage One and Two and our knowledge of how to take a customer down a logical path that leads to a sale.

Another way this might be like rocket science is the effort and practice that goes into each and every lift-off. Just like the astronauts who have flown all those amazing flights into the final frontier practiced day after day, over and over again, to be an F&I professional (one who performs well above average) takes practice. Astronauts role-play each step in a mission thousands of times to prepare for any situation, and so should you. Now, go shoot for the stars!

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