The F&I Interview: An Important but Often-Overlooked Sales Step

The F&I interview allows the F&I manager to apply the greet and discovery tools to prepare the F&I menu presentation for the customer and get ready to sell them a product.

The F&I Interview is a critical step in the sales process that is skipped far too often in many dealerships. Even when the F&I interview is included in the sales process, F&I managers are sometimes rushed and/or pressured into passing over this step to expedite the deal. In some cases, an F&I manager may believe that his “sales ability” makes this crucial step unnecessary.

The F&I interview allows the F&I manager to apply the greet and discovery tools to prepare the F&I menu presentation for the customer and get ready to sell them a product. After a friendly introduction, the F&I manager follows up with some basic ownership experience questions. The answers to those questions will help the F&I manager choose which products to focus on and overcoming the objections involved with the products. Armed with a friendly rapport and some basic answers, the F&I manager is properly equipped for the time in the box with the customer.

It all starts with a greet. After receiving the customer’s credit application/information, the sales staff should introduce the F&I manager to the customer. The tone of the introduction and the words used are very important. The introduction needs to be upbeat and enthusiastic. The introduction also needs to include an explanation of the F&I manager’s role in the process. The goals are to 1) review the app and/or customer info for accuracy, 2) make sure the funding is all handled properly and to the advantage of the customer and 3) to make the transaction as fast as possible.

Once the F&I manager has begun to establish a relationship, they have earned the right to ask the customer some questions about the ownership experience.

It is important to note that the interview is most valuable when the F&I manager can make it as comfortable and conversational as possible. It is not an interrogation. It should not be done with a questionnaire or a checklist. It should be done outside of the office if at all feasible. It should be friendly and fairly simple.

Depending on the particulars of the deal and the customer’s answers to the interview questions, the F&I manager now has a better idea of what products are best suited for the customer and how to approach the customer once they bring them to the office for the menu presentation.

There are many different examples of interviews and a variety of questions that could be included.

Example interview greeting:

Hi, John, as your salesperson said, my name is Mark, and I’m the person who will be typing up all the paperwork. I have three responsibilities here at the dealership:
1. I will be processing your titling paperwork.
2. I will assist you with your funding needs.
3. I will make sure that things go as quickly as possible.

Example interview questions:

• Just to make sure I get the title work correct, will you be the only person on the title and the insurance documentation?

• Is this how you would like the title to read?

• Have you had the opportunity to contact your insurance company regarding your new vehicle? Who will that be?

• Most of our customers drive their vehicles somewhere between 12,000 – 20,000 miles per year. Do you think you will be on the high or low side of that?

• To follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule, will you be using an authorized dealership?

• Did you plan on using us as your scheduled maintenance provider?

• I see there is/is not a trade in. (If yes, review: year, make, model, miles and length of ownership.)

• Most people trade when their vehicle starts showing wear and tear. What made you trade in your vehicle?

• We will be getting this vehicle ready for the next owner, can you tell me about any repairs or services that you have done on the trade in the last three years? Do you have any of the documentation in the car?

• Has someone contacted the financial institution for a current payoff?

Dealers spend a lot of time and training efforts with the sales staff focusing on developing the skill of the greet and honing their discovery questions, but that same time and attention is often not spent on the same tools for the F&I manager. The F&I Interview is a critical step that should not be overlooked. 

RPMOne is a leading provider of F&I products and dealer development services dedicated to serving the powersports market. Due to its comprehensive experience with dealerships, lenders and insurance companies, RPMOne has created top-tier F&I programs, web-based tools, training programs, and sales and marketing systems to meet the unique demands of the industry. RPMOne’s mission is to increase client profit to its fullest potential.

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