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Ask the average car consumer what they think of auto salesmen. Warning: before you do, brace yourself for what you’re going to hear. Words like “seedy” and “not to be trusted” will likely be bandied about – and what you learn may just force you to question every practice you’ve ever put into place in the commission of selling a vehicle. The bottom line is, buyers trust car salesmen about as far as they can throw them. Sadly, the same goes for their opinions about F&I professionals. Imagine a consumer not trusting the very people they’re asked to put their faith in when closing the deal on financing and protective products. Is something wrong with this picture? You bet there is.
Bizarrely, dealerships around the country frequently adopt what can best be described as a “style over substance” approach to dealing with the problem. As if slapping a band aid on a serious injury – or adorning a dealership with signs that scream “We’re trustworthy!” while practicing the same old, worn out selling approaches – could ever accomplish anything effectual. Here’s a secret you might not be privy to. If you want to keep customers happy, buying, and coming back again in the future, there’s only one way to do it. By undertaking the practice of menu selling.
Menu selling isn’t new. It’s not last year’s news, either. Far from it. Leaders of the auto sales industry have been singing the praises of menu selling for well over ten years, and for darn good reason. The data is there. Industry research has shown us time and again that dealerships who use menu selling see a dramatically reduced number of charge-backs, limited liability, and increased business. Better yet, menu selling results in past buyers bringing their business back the next time they’re in the market for a vehicle.
Why? It’s simple. Auto consumers appreciate full disclosure. Not only do they appreciate it – they demand it. Buyers want to know they’re not going to discover some invisible loophole in the agreements they sign when they purchase a car. What’s even more critical, car consumers are discovering that the “no-hassle” auto purchase isn’t just a pipe dream anymore. They’re finding that buying experience with increasing frequency as a growing number of forward thinking dealerships take proactive steps toward changing course.
The real tragedy is that for all its proven benefits, menu selling is still only practiced by about 20 percent of dealerships nationwide. That’s roughly one in five. Despite the fact that the top dog retail giant in the industry, AutoNation, has embraced menu selling as standard practice. And in the face of statistics from menu software makers like Maxim Track, which reports increased PVR around 33 percent when menu selling is utilized. This leads me to ask the question: are the majority of dealers who haven’t yet embraced menu selling crazy? Or are they simply so entrenched in their traditions that they can’t see their way clear to making changes that could mean the difference between extinction and survival?
I prefer to think it’s the latter. I’ve known far too many perfectly competent dealers and F&I specialists in my time to be convinced it’s a separation from reality that’s to blame. Many of them are convinced that transparency in auto sales in a misnomer. Still others choose to accept the fact that complete compliance with state laws and regulations is simply not possible, and that lawsuits are “part of the territory” of the industry. It’s this very kind of defeatist attitude – the deer in the headlights syndrome – that will be responsible for a great number of dealerships going under. Just as it will be responsible for an entire generation of F&I Managers losing jobs to a more highly diversified league of professional.
The time has come to pick which team you’ll be hitting for. Whether you’re new to the concept of menu selling or you’ve tried it out and aren’t getting the results you should, there’s only one thing that can turn the tide in your favor: training. On May 13 and 14, I’ll be giving a workshop at the Georgia Tech Global Learning Center called Closing Tools – Mastering Menu Sales. If ever there was a workshop to add to your top three list of must-attends, this is it. Click here to register today.