Becky's blog

F&I Is Coming Under Assault? Are Car Dealers Paying Attention?

If you're still waiting until the customer walks into the dealership to answer specific questions, you’re not competing in today’s market. Meet the customer online and offer them the flexibility to determine payment options up-front!
Doesn’t it seem like new technology just keeps putting more and more pressure on F&I? SpringboardAuto has become the latest online player to make our lives even more challenging. The three-year-old auto finance company is getting rave reviews. If you haven’t heard of it, you need to pay attention.


SpringboardAuto offers your customers direct financing. They don’t need to come to your dealership to finance their next vehicle. In fact, they can walk directly into the dealership with a check made out for the exact amount!
They offer customers other products as well – all completely online. And it gets worse! SpringboardAuto assures customers they’ll stay with them every step of the way during the entire buying process! This means your F&I person likely won't have the opportunity to convert your customer to your financing!


In fact, SpringboardAuto tells online shoppers they’ll obtain financing at terms they can budget for – without the dealer rate markup! “… A direct loan offers credit to you at terms that you qualify for without any rate markup by the dealer. This means you can shop with confidence and stay within your budget.” That’s marketing sleight of hand – without saying so, it suggests they don’t mark up their wholesale rate.


If that doesn’t get your attention, SpringboardAuto is now partnering with Carvana. That means your buyer never has to set foot in your dealership to buy a used car.


Customers give SpringboardAuto 4.7 stars out of 5 in reviews on LendingTree.com, so they must be doing something right. Truth is, it’s a pretty simple formula – they’re giving customers exactly what they want. An upfront, transparent process that puts the buyer in control.


How do you compete with that? You level the playing field by giving customers exactly what they want. Here’s how:

1) For starters, if a customer seeks information about your inventory through your website, respond immediately! You’ll hold the customer’s attention so she doesn’t move on to a ready competitor with a rapid response system in place.
2) Engage the customer early by answering specific questions. And ask questions. Start building the relationship by letting the customer know you’re ready to help them get into a car.
3) Capture the customer with self-desking and menu options on your website. The customer may have been surfing to compare prices, but if you can provide pre-screening options – a complete transactional experience –when they land on your site, the deal’s done before the customer walks into the store. Plus, self-desking helps ensure the customer is in the car they want and within their budget.

This is the most important step you can take to stay in the game. Self-desking is a sales funnel, a process that walks the customer through financing and a decision to purchase your vehicle.


Self-desking is NOT a calculator or static credit application on your website! Your website should be intuitive, addressing customers’ specific questions, not dodging them! You are walking the customer through the sales funnel, building credibility along the way.


Meeting customers online on their terms – being upfront and transparent from the beginning – builds trust. It tells the customer you’re not playing games. It’s essential the simple, easy process you offer online stays simple and easy in the store! You can’t make customers start the process over again after they get into the dealership. Today’s consumers have rejected the old way of doing business. They want "express service."


If you’re just using your website to get customers into your store, you’re at risk of not only losing your piece of the financing pie, but whole blocks of customers who want the quick, hassle-free alternative provided by SpringboardAuto.
Self-desking technology empowers customers by explaining payment options and how to budget for a vehicle purchase. It gives them the flexibility of choosing different plans, depending on their circumstances. It provides an online transactional experience that makes buying a car almost stress-free.


Customers who have slow-pay credit history don't want to be dragged all day through the mud buying a car. Give them the flexibility to buy a car on their terms! Make it easy! Simplify the buying process.
To compete in this market, it’s imperative that you provide potential customers with online self-desking based on their credit criteria on their terms. But technology alone isn’t enough.


The key to making this work is training, training, training – understanding the importance of meeting the customer on their terms.

Disruptors aren't going away! They are more than willing to do what you REFUSE TO DO! Train your staff to engage the customer at the earliest opportunity. Train them to transition the self-desked customer seamlessly into your in-dealership workflow. If the customer hasn’t had the opportunity to check out financing terms beforehand, help them navigate the online process at a kiosk in your dealership.


The time to act is now! And this is where I can help you.
My training includes A - Z implementation, including what plug-ins are best to use for your website. More important, I’ll address how self-desking will merge with your in-dealership workflow. Technology must go hand-in-hand with your in-dealership practices or it won’t stick. Digitizing the entire buying experience creates a seamless process from the first online hit to finalizing the transaction with a dedicated finance or single-point sales associate.
You'll also learn that handing a digital menu over to your customer won't create more sales – digital menus enhance your presentation, but they should NEVER replace you or do it for you!
Learn how to increase sales while retaining more customers!

Check out my new workshop!

Mastering F&I in a Digital Age

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