It’s a common practice in most F&I offices to utilize menus of various types to present F&I products to customers. They can help to maintain compliance and ensure that every customer knows their choices when it comes to protecting their purchase. However, few subjects inspire more debate than how to effectively utilize menus to enhance the customer experience and effectively present F&I products.
While most F&I Managers still use menus to sell F&I products, there is another approach or philosophy that can be even more effective than using them as step-selling tools. I would encourage you to consider the menu as a natural conclusion to a benefits presentation and discussion, tailored to the needs of your customer that have been identified.
I do not recommend only using a menu to present and sell your F&I products. Many of your customers have most likely been through a similar presentation and are conditioned to reject any proposition you may have for them immediately. Most of us have experienced the “No thanks, I will pass” response that comes as soon as you begin to review the menu. The wall goes back up and the customer stops listening to you. Many times, all they can see is the cost of the products and they aren’t even hearing the benefits you may be trying to convey.
A better approach would be to identify the customers’ needs through conversation prior to presenting a menu. Utilizing the information that both you and the sales associate gathered from them, you can then transition to a product discussion and a review that is tailored to their individual and unique needs. This can help the customer see areas where they may have risks during their time of ownership and cultivate a value-based proposition.
Imagine if your sales team ignored the needs discovery portion of their sales process, and just randomly picked out a vehicle for the client and attempted to negotiate a sale. Silly right? Why then would an F&I Manger use a similar process when attempting to sell products? Without first identifying needs, discussing risks, and presenting products based upon that information, how can your customer truly perceive a meaningful value?
So, think of your menu more as a logical end to the process and a closing tool. A good menu presentation must enable your team to present the finance products from a value perspective, tailored to the unique needs of the customer. If you don’t, you run the risk of making it only about the cost.
In addition, we recommend that every menu presentation covers the base vehicle payment, term, and rate at which the customer can take delivery, and complete disclosure of the terms, coverage, and cost of each individual product. Use the menu to ask the customer to choose the benefit or benefits they see the most value in, and have the customer sign or initial that they reviewed the benefits and made their selections. We recommend that every customer sign an acceptance/decline form indicating what they also declined.
Once your customers have made all their selections and initialed the menu, your team has verifiable proof that all customers were presented with all products; they had full knowledge of what they were purchasing or declining; and, they knew the associated cost.
Effectively using a menu has the potential to streamline the F&I process by standardizing the presentation within your finance department across all team members. It’s all too easy to pre-judge our customers when not using a menu properly or having an inconsistent process. Have you heard a team member say, “I knew that consumer wouldn’t be interested in this product or that, so I barely even touched on it just to finish the deal and get them out faster.”? I think we all have, including myself.
We could all agree that consistency is paramount to success. Many of our customers may have seen more value in the product if they’d only been given a quality, needs-based presentation, void of assumptions. You never know what products a given customer will see more value in or be interested in until you engage them in conversation.
With the ever-increasing scrutiny and the litigious nature of compliance in the automotive space, conducting a needs-based, compliant menu presentation to every customer is one of the best ways to ensure your team is managing a compliant operation. It ensures that 100 percent of the dealership’s products are presented to 100 percent of customers, 100 percent of the time, and in a compliant manner. Effective menu utilization can also help to prevent any implied or perceived product packing by ensuring all your customers understand and agree to what they are purchasing, and the associated costs.
With more than 40 years helping dealers achieve their profitability goals, EFG Companies knows how to train your team to maximize their effectiveness and increase compliance. Contact us today to get started.