Becky's blog

Are you using F&I Training to capitalize on trends in both online shopping and subprime customers?


According to DealerTrack, 83 percent of customers are shopping for cars online. Many of those customers are spending an average of eight minutes on a dealership website calculating payments.

Some auto dealers have even taken the approach of offering customers the ability to obtain preapproval prior to coming into the dealership, providing them with immediate access to F&I. Many industry veterans, however, view the preapproval process as an outright attack on their way of doing business.

They don’t want to talk numbers over the phone. They’d rather wait until the customer comes into the dealership for delivery. But waiting to discuss terms with the customer face-to-face will cause dealers to lose sales and an opportunity to secure financing.

As I see it, dealers continue to ignore the signs that more than 50 percent of consumers have nonprime to subprime credit. Or, they don’t realize that to succeed in this new credit landscape, their sales and F&I personnel have to do things a little differently.

And help is readily available. My F&I training workshop – F&I Subprime Sales Success, slated for early April – targets specific challenges and provides solutions and tools for thriving in the new marketplace. For broader content, my new F&I online training platform, Chernek Consulting Virtual Pro, delivers comprehensive F&I education that uses real-world scenarios to help students grasp the lesson and put it to immediate use. This cutting-edge program – interactive, up-to-date and highly relevant – is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year. Students advance at their own pace.

Back to those subprime customers. Not properly qualifying the customer prior to landing him or her on the car cuts into profits and increases liability. Since most sales staff aren’t being adequately trained to ask questions that will steer them in the right direction, customers are being put on vehicles they can‘t budget or get approved. The customer waits for hours in the dealership until approval is finally granted – on a different vehicle.

It’s a balancing act. You don’t want to offend customers with established credit, but it’s the questions you don’t ask that will get you into hot water every time! For example, “What brought you into our dealership today? Are you here to meet with anyone in particular? Have you purchased a vehicle from us in the past? Are you currently financing and, if so, with what bank?”

Keep in mind that you aren’t interrogating the customer, you’re just trying to get acquainted to better meet his or her needs. Providing the customer with the dealership’s mission statement is an ideal way to frame the conversation in a positive, proactive light.

Subprime financing doesn’t have to be a tug of war. If any flags are raised, bring the customer into the dealership. Obtain a credit statement and introduce the customer to the finance manager. Establishing credit criteria earlier in the process will increase the likelihood of landing the customer on the right vehicle the first time out – a vehicle the bank will buy and the customer can afford. Stripping deals down to the bare bones isn’t any fun – and it’s poor business sense.
Plus, vehicles are being advertised on websites with discounted pricing, but some dealers are passing the acquisition fees on to the customer – a practice that can’t be defended in court. You don’t want to get caught in this compliance nightmare! But that’s a topic for another blog.

Tired, worn-out methods continue to plague many dealers and serve to diminish car sales and revenue. Remember, the bank decides if the customer rides. If you create a process that ensures consistency and helps to manage every sale, you’ll maximize profits and overall customer satisfaction.

I created my 1½-day workshop, F&I Subprime Sales Success, to share proven methods for not only navigating the subprime marketplace, but to capitalize on its potential – while minimizing liability. This subprime training event covers:

  • How to properly qualify the customer during the meet and greet.

  • Understanding your banks’ guidelines and procedures and knowing how to work with them.

  • How to structure the deal to maximize potential.

  • How to offer additional products without breaking the customer’s budget or your advance.

  • How to minimize liability when working with subprime customers.

Tuesday & Wednesday

April 7th & 8th

For more information or to register, go to F&I Subprime Sales Success

For more comprehensive F&I training, check out Chernek Consulting Virtual Pro an online F&I training program that provides an interactive virtual learning experience 24/7, 365 days a year.

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