F&I: Processes Define Dealership Culture

A properly completed and executed paper trail will assure that the customer fully understands all the terms of the sale and there is no room for misunderstanding.

Your dealership should have a well-defined F&I process that is clear to all of your staff members and it should be consistent regardless of who is involved in the transaction.

This will bring two advantages:

1. Most dealers have relatively high turnovers compared to many other industries. If you have new employees joining the team frequently, it will be easier to train them and measure the productivity and performance with well-defined processes.

2. Your dealership may know how to handle a transaction but your customer is not purchasing a motorcycle every day and they need to understand what is involved so that they don’t feel left in the dark. If you have well-defined processes, it will be easier to guide your customers about what to expect and when to expect, which will not only help boost your customer satisfaction but also help you build trust and long-term loyalty for your dealership.

You may think that you already have well-defined processes, but it is often surprising to see that the reality might be different than your perception when you analyze the sales transaction from the beginning to the end.

Today, most of the sales and financing related tasks are digitized and handled on either a computer or a tablet, but it is still important to have the proper paper trail to make sure that everybody is on the same page when completing a transaction. Customers seldom understand and remember the terms they agreed to.

A properly completed and executed paper trail will assure that the customer fully understands all the terms of the sale and there is no room for misunderstanding. It will also help you to be protected against any claims of deceptive practice violations.

Here is a sample list of paperwork to include in a transaction/customer file:

  • Printed purchase order signed by the customer
  • Signed credit application
  • Copy of valid driver’s license with legible photo
  • Proper adverse notices
  • Copy of privacy policy that is signed by the customer
  • Copy of risk-based pricing notice
  • Copy of OFAC that you ran on the customer

Many dealers using the digital platforms bypass most of the paperwork until the customer is brought into the F&I office, which might seem like it streamlines and speeds up the process, but it may damage the deal. The key element here is to make sure that the customer understands all the terms of the sale and agrees to the pricing.

Imagine that in the sales process, the sales person used hard-to-understand abbreviations such as WAC, OTF or OAC and the customer never had the chance to review the details on paper and they are coming into the F&I office feeling totally lost. If the F&I manager is left to close the customer either on price or payment or both, the deal will be in jeopardy because the F&I manager is involved in the process at the very end and they may not know all the details discussed.

They may not know the motivations and desires of the customer either. The sales person should guide and assist the customer on choosing the right vehicle and close on pricing so that the F&I manager can focus on arranging the financing with the monthly payments within the customer’s budget. If the customer is sensitive to getting a better deal with a large discount, the sales person can get the F&I manager involved with financing options to steer the conversation away from discounting and more toward achieving the target monthly payment earlier in the process.

The purpose here would only be to get the F&I department to start working on the financing options sooner, not to close the deal on behalf of the sales department. Once the customer is in the F&I office, documents should be in file so that the F&I manager can focus on getting the best financing option for the customer and upselling the ancillary products such as extended service contracts, maintenance plans, GAP policies etc.

If your F&I department is utilizing menu selling for compliance purposes as well as increasing the closing ratio, the base payment and terms must be clearly stated prior to presenting the backend products. You want to present 100 percent of the products to 100 percent of the customers 100 percent of the time.

It is easy to forget a form to complete or a document to attach to the file especially when multiple people work on the same transaction. That’s why it is a must to use checklist forms as a guideline to include as the cover page in a file. Your dealership should have ready-to-use checklist templates that would help streamline the process, reduce the back-and-forth revisions and have a more professional presentation to your customers.

Remember that your checklists guide your processes and your processes define your dealership culture.

Emre Ucer is the co-founder and managing partner of MotoLease, LLC. MotoLease is a full-credit spectrum lessor providing financing through a network of over 1,000 authorized dealers nationwide.

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