Adopt the F&I menu. That was the recommendation to JM&A Group 20 years ago from a company associate who attended one of George Angus' F&I menu seminars.
JM&A took the advice.
Shortly after the seminar, it adopted the menu, and the associate, Bill Elsey, trademarked an F&I menu for JM&A three years later.
The traditional F&I sales approach "wasn't all that customer-friendly and really didn't produce the transparency that we were looking for," said Mike Casey, group vice president of sales for JM&A. "The consumer was looking for a better understanding and wanted to participate in the process more."
JM&A started using a four-column paper F&I menu around late 1996 and early 1997. Then, Elsey designed an electronic menu built on an Excel spreadsheet in 1998. One year later, JM&A trademarked it and began using it in all its stores.
JM&A brought the F&I menu to a large part of the U.S. market, but the company's real strength was building the F&I process around the menu, Casey said.
"We took the time to build out word tracks so finance managers knew how to sell the products and services on the menu," he said. "We have since morphed from word tracks to thought tracks, just another step in the evolution as it relates to being customer-friendly, transparent. We want finance managers to be authentic in the way they present products and services."
Implementing an F&I menu was an easy decision because it made more sense to the consumer and it was easier for the F&I manager to present, Casey said. Using a menu also allowed JM&A to train its dealership clients nationwide on one process and increased JM&A's F&I product penetration.
"You don't have to sell. You're presenting the menu to them, in print right in front of them. They can select what they like, deselect what they don't like," Casey said. "It's giving them the control they want and speeds up the process because of that. There's no long sales pitch."
It took dealers some time to accept that the menu could be both simple and effective, Casey said, but once JM&A showed dealers how the menu worked, they latched on.
"By demonstrating that consistency, we really helped get the industry to embrace the menu by training dealership personnel," Casey said. "I think it really made a difference."