If you want to keep customers happy, watch the clock.
Today's consumers demand speedy vehicle transactions. And to satisfy them, it's important to develop and maintain a smooth F&I system, successful dealers and F&I managers say. That includes organizing a process for paperwork, setting a time frame with customers for completing the deal and then sticking to it.
"We are very cognizant of how long we spend with customers," said David Kelleher, owner of David Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Glen Mills, Pa. "We have reduced our [delivery time] by about 15 minutes, from about 90 minutes to about 75."
Even though auto sales have slowed in many dealerships this year -- U.S. light-vehicle sales were down 2.7 percent though August vs. the 2016 period -- a survey by Kelley Blue Book "found consumers are more impressed with the latest crop of new cars and trucks than ever before." Key factors in engaging those customers, beyond offering great deals, are an efficient paperwork process and straightforward, respectful communication, dealers and F&I managers say.
"One of my pet peeves is when someone is working on paperwork for a prior customer when the latest customer arrives at the office," said Bruce Schindler, owner of Bob Davidson Ford-Lincoln in Baltimore. "That's a sign of disorganization. You have to educate and train your employees to give the current customer the immediate attention and respect that they deserve."
Stephanie Cooper, finance manager at Timbrook Automotive in Cumberland, Md., agrees. "If you want to make headway [on sales], explain how long it will take to review F&I and go through paperwork. It should take 20 minutes. Stick to that time, she said. "You'll see the results in your customer satisfaction surveys and sales. That's how you win a customer for life."