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Virtually stand by me

By Glenice Wilder

Powersports dealers often operate with a small staff that wears many hats. Unfortunately, F&I is one hat that can be left on the shelf … so to speak. With its complex rules and regulations, F&I is complicated, and many people are uncomfortable broaching the topic with customers. As a result, dealers miss the opportunity for added profits from the F&I department — and customers miss out on valuable protections.

But there is a “hidden” ally available for powersports dealers! Virtual F&I can fill the role of a vacant F&I department – or provide support to team members hesitant to explain F&I products. Virtual F&I comes in many forms and functions. Before jumping into this virtual world, it pays to evaluate your dealership needs and the available resources.

Optimizing virtual F&I for your customer demographic

If the majority of your customers are under the age of 40, it’s likely they have already researched their purchase online before they set foot in your dealership. They know the price of the bike, how they plan to use it, and may even have gone through some type of credit evaluation or pre-qualification. This customer wants to get in the door, get the deal done, and enjoy their afternoon on their new motorcycle. There is no time for fumbling around with clumsy F&I explanations.

If your customer has not researched their purchase online prior to entering the dealership, they are either impulse buying or simply have not taken the time to consider the numerous features and benefits of the bikes in your dealership. Reviewing these details and narrowing the options to one or two takes time. And chances are, there will be little time left to discuss F&I options. You’ve already claimed a couple of hours and the customer is getting antsy.

In either scenario, many powersports dealers, it’s likely that significant F&I money is left on the table. And, in these lean times, you need to account for every possible nickel.

Pick the right tools for your dealership

Virtual F&I enables dealers to focus on the front-end process, while a team of expert F&I personnel take care of the finance process from an off-site location, streaming live into your dealership.

  • Financing
  • Loan structure
  • Product sales
  • Contracting
  • Funding

You own the sales-process, while the virtual F&I team takes care of driving profitability on the back-end for each vehicle sale.

A virtual F&I solution is designed to bring the full power of F&I experts with a strong background in F&I to your dealership every day and for every customer.

Consider this scenario:

With Virtual F&I, you complete the sales process as you normally would. You help the customer select a vehicle, negotiate the purchase amount, and pencil the deal. Then, the sales person contacts the F&I professional and schedules the F&I session. The salesperson uploads the deal jacket and provides background information on the customer, including hot buttons, potential issues, etc. The salesperson brings the customer to a private F&I room, makes them comfortable, and provides them with a timeframe of how quickly the transaction will be completed.

The Virtual F&I professional then prepares the documentation and sends it to a secure printer in the private F&I room, while also submitting the credit application to lenders. The F&I Professional meets with the customer via live technology to review their credit app, conduct a needs analysis, and perform the product presentation. Once the sale is closed, the customer signs all the documents, either via e-sign or with wet ink, depending on which documents are able to take electronic signature. The Virtual F&I professional will then prepare all documents and send them back to the secure printer in the F&I room, which the salesperson will present to the customer.

After the completion of the sale, the Virtual F&I professional works with sales, accounting and the lender to ensure all contracts are expedited and the lender pays the dealer directly.

The entire process can take less than 45 minutes! A short amount of time to insure you’ve achieved maximum profitability and airtight compliance on every sale.

Of course, this is a new way of doing business. Having your deals processed by someone who is not in the office next door can seem unnerving. But think about all of the other parts of your business that are conducted over the phone or computer. You took the necessary steps to build trust and confidence in those relationships. And those providers have become part of your dealership family. Shouldn’t you consider adding a new member to your family? A “virtual” member who will stand by you … and increase your back-end profitability? Isn’t it time?

Glenice Wilder is the vice president of Powersports for EFG Companies. A 33-year industry veteran, Glenice is responsible for growing and developing EFG’s action and powersports market channel. She combines her passion for motorcycles and her dedication to serving EFG’s customers to develop solutions that consistently exceed their expectations. Glenice acts as a strategic partner to assess her clients’ areas for improvement and how EFG can fill that role. She provides insight in how to increase productivity by pairing the right products within the right markets for the greatest return on investment.

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