The 2016 World Shopper Conference Iberian was conducted on May 13th on Lisbon Portugal. Over 500 participants from Portugal, Spain and Brazil had come to gather ideas that would help improve automotive world in prospective countries. I had a privilege to share the stage with some of the top notch Automotive speakers from the United States, Canada and Portugal. The focus of the conference was on improving customer experience both online and at the dealership.
The F&I is fairly young in Portugal. It was introduced there about 10 years ago. With that in mind it represents a huge opportunity for dealers and manufacturers. Here are five opportunities.
- The primary focus of the F&I is on arranging financing. For as much as it is a great service to the consumer, since it represents a huge profitability for dealers it is still very much self-serving approach. Reliance on rate markup will not generate customer loyalty in the long run.
- F&I is viewed as an administrative task. In many ways the F&I is considered as an afterthought. It certainly important to a consumer but it is viewed as a disjointed part of the process. The goal should be to provide seamless experience. To do so dealers have to re-focus on the overall consumer experience and begin treating F&I as part of the whole sales process. This means early consumer education about their options both online and at a dealership.
- Disconnect between sales and F&I. Sales people do not introduce F&I managers early and bring them to help close deals which is awkward and disjointed for customers. It seems that this disconnect between departments creates more confusion and lack of trust. To generate seamless consumer experience more work needs to be done in generating trust and seamlessness between both department. F&I and sales have to work in unison.
- Limited product sales. With a heavy reliance on rate markup income and the administrative/banker mindset products are not being presented consistently. Since consumers do not see value in the F&I they reject products that are offered. Available products – credit insurance, maintenance and service contracts represent great value to both customers and dealers. Study show a much greater dealership loyalty from customers who purchased protection products.
- Leasing opportunities. Offering different options to customers early in their discovery process will generate more opportunities for dealers. Most sales people are reluctant to speak about matters they don’t understand or know little about. Leasing is one of those opportunities for dealerships to improve on. New or unfamiliar concepts must be easily explained and presented with confidence. Overall, training both sales and F&I with focus on value based presentation along with process improvement will create a much better buyer experience and generate greater profitability.
Not unlike the US market F&I is evolving in Portugal. Consumers demand a much more transparent and seamless experience than most dealers are able to provide. To win, manufacturers and dealers must keep their focus on both the future and the current state of affairs which by all measures is not an easy task. Consistent incremental improvements made within the Sales/F&I process will generate better outcomes now and in the future!
by Tony Troussov