Sunday, July 01, 2007

Using IT in F&I


We all collect customer e-mail addresses. What do we do with them? This is a question I often ask F&I managers. The usual response is that they go to the Internet department or the business development center (BDC). There is something special, however, that we can do with them.

Opportunities

The IT department can assist F&I by creating a PDF file to send to customers who did not purchase the F&I products or services the manager offered at the time of delivery. Before you stop reading, I realize that all of you maximize the profitability of every deal. Still, we must be realistic and recognize that some customers simply cannot afford to have anything but the vehicle at the time of sale.

Times change

With the passing of time, the customers’ resources could improve. Perhaps later they will be able to purchase a service agreement or the extra protective coatings. Perhaps they will get pay raises and replenish their savings accounts. Perhaps they can qualify for the GE money credit card in the parts department. If the vehicle was new, many of your service agreement companies provide a “zero interest” payment plan. (Contact your provider for details.)

‘NO’ does not mean never

An objection that a customer makes at the time of delivery does not mean the customer will never purchase a policy. It only means they did not purchase one that day. Although used vehicles have a point of sale purchase only, new vehicles have a grace period where the IT department can be a great help in following up with the customer.

Follow-up

It is important, of course, that you have permission to use the customer's e-mail. Disclosures about opting out of future electronic communications should be clearly visible on all messages that you send. The IT manager can provide F&I with the correct verbiage.

Here is a sample letter that can help you start your e-mail follow-up plan:

“Dear Mr. ____________, (make the email personal)

Again, I wish to thank you for purchasing your vehicle with our dealership. Upon review of your documentation, we noticed that you did not purchase a service agreement. If your mileage is under ____________, you may still qualify for this valuable protection.

Here are some benefits you will receive:

1) Peace of mind – Your monthly budget will be fixed instead of variable. The service department will always be paid, and you will have peace of mind knowing payment will not come from you for the first _____ year’s ________ miles.

2) Affordable protection – If you act now, you still can take advantage of new vehicle pricing, plus buying a tailor-made plan that gives you adequate coverage.

3) Convenience – It's easy to start. Simply return this e-mail. We can prepare the documentation and send it out to you or you can drop by.

4) Easy claims – Claims are paid directly to the service department, and our policies are recognized by _________(any licensed mechanic).

5) Dependable – Our policies are backed by ___________, a ____ rated insurance company.

6) Second Chance coupon – By returning this e-mail, you can save $_____ toward the purchase of your service agreement protection.

For all these reasons, act now to protect your vehicle, your budget and your mobility.

Best regards,
Sales Business Manager
Any Town Motors
Main Street
Any Town, USA

Using e-mail is cost effective method of communicating with your customers, and you very well may find that by using technology, you can open doors to additional sales.

World Of Special Finance Magazine, July 2007, P. 16