April 16, 2024

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Dealership F&I offices scramble to join digital world

Presenting F&I products outside of an F&I office is one of the larger challenges, where dealerships may skip steps to save time and close a sale.

Compliance experts advise dealerships to maintain meticulous records of F&I presentations, even through virtual means. Recording F&I product presentations conducted over video conferencing platforms could help or harm a dealership, depending on their processes.

“That’s Exhibit A for any kind of lawsuit by the consumer or from a lending source,” said Eric Johnson, a partner at Hudson Cook. “You better have a really good closing script that you’ve had reviewed by an attorney, and you do it right each and every time.”

Even dealerships with robust digital retailing processes were hamstrung by no-contact sales orders. Most digital car-buying experiences were developed to save time, not lives.

Very few dealerships were ready for a fully remote F&I experience, Johnson said. But dealerships shouldn’t relax standards in the face of new challenges, he said.

“Whether it’s done on Skype, over the phone or in person, you have the same compliance responsibilities you have to meet,” he said.

Dealerships with more robust digital processes were better equipped to sell F&I outside of the dealership. In fact, some stores prefer it.

Jason Quenneville, general manager at McGee Toyota, says his store will likely expand remote sales once quarantine ends. His nine salespeople communicate through a Zoom meeting, which is streamed on his computer every hour that the store is open.

Salespeople at his store conduct F&I presentations at customer homes with iPads. The average F&I profit per vehicle retailed is about $2,000, he says.

The store, which had sold about 80 cars per month when Quenneville came on in October, is tracking to sell 72 vehicles remotely this month.

“We weren’t going to stick our heads in the sand,” Quenneville said. “We wanted to see what we could do so we had something to come back to when this was over.”