Posted on July 28, 2017
by Sandy Fallon
F&I agents are more than just sales representatives who sell F&I products to dealers on behalf of their agency. F&I Agents take on the F&I Manager’s burden of managing changes related to customer expectations, regulatory scrutiny, new technology and best practices to produce superior performance. As the consultant of superior performance in F&I– product penetration, profitability, customer satisfaction, efficiency and compliance, the F&I agent is the automotive industry’s best kept secret.
In the March 2017 issue of Harvard Business Review, there’s an article titled, “B2B Salespeople Need to Act More Like Travel Agents.” This article discusses the substantial resurgence of the travel agent market in lieu of internet travel sites and parallels between B2C travel planning and general B2B buying:
“Having more information doesn’t always make it easier to decide. Consider what’s happened with travel: With the explosion of internet travel sites in the 2000s, consumers took charge of their own travel, and travel agencies hemorrhaged business. Fast forward to today. Per the travel and leisure marketing firm MMGY, the use of travel agents increased by 50% from 2014 to 2015. Why? Because consumers, overwhelmed by information and inundated with choices, are again turning to travel agents to take the work out of travel planning. A similar sequence has happened with B2B buying.”
In the automotive industry, F&I agents, or dealer consultants, play the role of the “travel agent.” While agents are sales representatives who sell F&I products to dealers on behalf of their agency, their high level of product and industry knowledge merits the title “Dealer Consultant.” However instead of planning perfect vacations based on customer needs, the dealer consultant provides dealerships with F&I solutions that yield an increase in that dealership’s production. Dealer consultants minimize dealership burdens by filtering through the torrents of information, overabundance of products and presenting a customized portfolio of integrated solutions that drive their customers to success. As consultants, agents offer guidance and training to enable the F&I office to build trust and transparency with the customer, boost sales and remain compliant.
The Training and Education Side of Consulting
Dealer consultants provide tailored training and educational resources to F&I managers to help them deliver an effective presentation to each customer. Training curriculums are customized to support the dealer’s overall objectives while providing the most up-to-date methods, skills and knowledge necessary to achieve optimum success. As a subject matter expert, dealer consultants recognize training opportunities throughout the duration of their dealership relationship, which is an important element for dealers to reach new heights.
Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) and Contracts in Transit (CIT)
In addition to F&I product selection, dealer consultants help customers maintain high levels of customer satisfaction, minimize the number of contracts in transit (CIT), remain legally and ethically compliant, and maximize product sales. Dealerships may offer their customers the best products available on the market, however the method in which these products are presented and sold to the customer can impact CSI scores and Contract in Transit. Maintaining a high customer satisfaction index (CSI) can be a struggle for F&I managers because car buyers tend to perceive the F&I process as less favorable than the test driving or price negotiation parts of the process. Dealer consultants are always looking for solutions that help their F&I Managers improve CSI scores. With new technology and digital marketing agencies approaching dealerships every day, F&I managers can rely on their dealer consultant to vet the latest and greatest in technology and marketing solutions. Dealers can depend on their consultants to deliver solutions that streamline ineffective contracting practices; thus eliminating errors and omissions in contracts in transit that are costing dealers thousands in unearned profits every month.
The research unveiled in this article conclusively substantiates how big of a role agents play to dealerships, aftermarket providers, consumers and other F&I solutions suppliers. “As B2B purchasing becomes ever more complex, it’s becoming harder and harder — and buyers are now looking for sellers who can make the process easy once again.” For the F&I Industry, Dealer Consultants are the secret to success.
So, the next time you see an agent, thank them for all their hard work. They pull all the ingredients together to create a recipe of success for their customers.
As always, Thanks for your Business!
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