Friday, June 01, 2007

F&I Express - Station #6 -Asking for the Order

and Isolating Customer Concerns

We have arrived at our next destination and are standing on the “Ask For The Order” platform. At our last stop, we read about making a value added presentation. We made our F-A-B presentation and secured the “Seven Little Yeses” during the presentation. The customer is listening intently and the rhythm of the sale is progressing. Now is the time for you to ask the Big Question: “Aren’t these the kind of benefits you want to have in order to protect your new purchase?” The customer will then invariably ask, “How much does all of this affect my payment?” This is the invitation we’ve been waiting for.

Time to Ask for the Money

Bring out the menu, turn it over, show it with pride, and use it as a summation tool. “With everything we spoke about, including the service contract, Roadside Assistance, tire and rim protection, protective coatings, GAP, and credit life and credit disability, your total monthly payment would be ________. This would make an adjustment of ________ (dollar amount of payment different). Do you have any questions regarding the benefits? Does the payment fit your budget?”

Please note that the APR and term are already identified on the menu and that you have already reviewed these with the customer prior to entering your office. Many states require that the total retail selling price of all F&I products be written or printed on the menu. If you change the terms of the loan and the APR is different, you must disclose the new APR and the new terms to the customer, in addition to the new payment and the payment difference.

Make Sure to Ask for the Down Payment

What some managers fail to realize is that you have the power to make the payments almost anything the customer wants; all it takes is down payment. Many sales representatives are afraid to ask for a down payment. Many fear the answer, “I don’t have it.” There is a difference between having, wanting, and getting, yet people often misuse and misunderstand these terms.

For instance: “The lender would prefer to see positive equity in your new purchase. In your case that would be $___________. How does that sound?” The sales/F&I consultant should be silent and wait for an answer. If the customer says: “I do not have $________”, the sales/F&I consultant should ask: “How close can you get to that number?” Again, be silent until the customer answers the question. We must ask for a down payment for many reasons: one is to secure the customer’s commitment on the purchase. Another is to lower the amount the customer finances so that he or she will have payments with which they are comfortable and which include the protection they wish to purchase.

Make Sure the Payment Fits into the Budget

I have found that if we build sufficient value into our products, almost every customer will want our products. The “stop sign” is usually the monthly payment. At the end of the day, every purchase must fit into the family budget.

It is imperative that we ask the customer to make a choice in protection plans. This is the beauty of closing with a menu! The paper or computer menu will provide the customer with additional options besides “Yes” or “No”.

First, communicate the benefits of the F&I products; then, secure little “yeses”. For instance: “Your service contract is good throughout the U.S. and Canada, so you can enjoy the northern roads with peace of mind. That’s important to you and your family, isn’t it?” Or, “Your service contract covers 100 percent of the cost of parts and 100 percent of the cost of retail labor rates, so you do not have to set aside a repair budget when you are on a holiday; this means increased financial security when you are far from home, doesn’t it?” Can you see how the little “yeses” will lead to the big “Yes”?

Inquire as to whether the customer feels comfortable having a fully protected payment, a partially protected payment, or if he or she has sufficient resources available in order to feel secure in having the budget payment plan.

Some dealerships have four payment plan choices; others will have three choices. The goal is to give the customer options. A choice between something and something will yield something. A choice between something and nothing will yield nothing. Customers generally follow the path of least resistance.

The Bell Curve

The bell curve says that 20 percent of customers want the plan with the most protection, while 20 percent of customers want the plan with the lowest payment. It is the middle group, the 60 percent, who want to be neither overly extravagant nor too shortsighted. While we like to think of our customers as more than statistics, the fact remains that selling is a numbers game. The more we pitch, the more likely it is that someone will catch. Therefore, discuss the benefits of your protection plan with every customer.

Let’s return to the menu. When the customer asks how all of the products will affect his or her payments. Here are some sample responses:

“So glad you asked! With everything we discussed (summarizing the products), these products will make your new payment $_______; adjusting the payment by $____.” (Last words spoken are small difference numbers.) “Do you have any questions regarding the benefits? Does the payment fit your budget?” (Note that 20 percent of people say yes.)

If the customer responds with “Yes”, type the purchase order / installment contract. If the customer’s response is “No”, continue:

“The next column identifies the plan without ________. That would provide a payment of $___________, adjusting your payment by $________. Does this fit better with your budget?” (Continue explaining the differences between the choices in your menu plans.)

Then ask the customer: “Out of all of these choices, which one best meets your family’s needs and budget?” Wait for the answer , the customer will respond.

“Good choice. Rest assured, we do not want you to purchase anything in which you do not see an inherent value. By the way, if money were no object, is this next column the one you would rather have?”

We never want to offend the customer, nor do we want to miss any undiscovered opportunity. We must walk a fine line between customer relations and planting the seeds for future business.

Identify the customer’s true concerns. Is it the monthly expense, or is it the value of the products? A good question to ask the customer if he or she cannot select is, “Setting aside the issue of money, are these the benefits you want to have in order to protect yourself and your family?” Wait for his or her answer, then respond with “What is it about ________ that gives you the greatest concern?”

Until we can identify the customer’s biggest concerns, we cannot provide them with the type of quality information that will make it easy for the customer to say “Yes” to the protection and services we offer.

RV Executive Today, June 2007, P.31-32