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Spring Cleaning: De-clunking and De-cluttering in F&I

Woman cleaning desk
Article Highlights:

  • Outdated F&I processes could be costing you resources and future sales.
  • Look for ways to freshen up customer interactions for a better experience.

A year in the life of a dealership is a long time, but it can pass quickly. Before you know it, another fiscal year begins, and you set new goals as the business continues to grow and change. With the spring season upon us, it’s time do a little operational spring cleaning. Every aspect of the dealership deserves a look over, but let’s start with the F&I office (don’t worry, we’ll get to the other departments in future articles).

Think of what your F&I team has accomplished over the last year: thousands of deals have crossed their desks and countless papers were signed, all accompanied by customers you educated and guided through the F&I process. Each customer interaction was a new opportunity for your dealership to make a great impression, provide the customer with a solution to their needs, and build a long-term relationship with them.

But let’s dig deeper into those interactions and processes. Were there messy transition points you want to avoid moving forward? Are your processes, and maybe even your offices, getting a bit cluttered? For attentive customers, a clunky transition and clutter are easy to spot, and they are not positive signs of how business is done. So, what can you do to de-clunk and de-clutter your F&I processes?

Seamless Transitions

A major focal point for many dealerships is to provide a seamless transition from sales to F&I.

Customers provide a lot of information online or during their test drives and negotiations with sales. What does the transition of that information look like today? Do customers wait at the sales or F&I desk while employees walk in and out gathering documents and asking questions? In this situation, customers have to repeat information multiple times, making the interaction for all parties feel messy and chaotic, adding time, steps, and confusion to the process.

Consider the time involved in a messy transition. For this example, let’s look at an F&I manager doing 30 deals per month. If you waste just 10 minutes relaying information or walking back and forth during transitions, a single F&I manager can end up wasting 60 hours in a year due to messy transitions. This is valuable time your employees could be using to sell.

Having a process in place to easily transition all the applicable information received from the customer in the sales process seamlessly into the F&I office simplifies every step. Establishing clean communication clears the way for a smooth F&I discussion during every deal and maximizes the efficiency of the F&I department.

The Paper Problem

We all know the stigma around signing for a new car: F&I managers print document after document, collecting endless signatures as quickly as possible from buyers to speed the process along. This approach can lead to mounds of paper and wasted space in a dealership’s office, and is often the most painful part of purchasing a vehicle for the customer.

Relying on paper is also one of the most overlooked expenses in a dealership, and it can lead to both short and long-term costs. Using paper in the F&I office equals a highly manual process: evaluating which forms are necessary based on the deal, ensuring every field and signature is captured and consistent, and compiling every page for the deal jacket with a copy for the customer. (The headache paper causes in the business office is a conversation we’ll address in a future article.)

Being buried under all this paper can leave everyone feeling like they don’t have control of the car-buying process. However, during spring cleaning you can address all these issues.

Look for ways to be more digital-forward, such as scanning documents into electronic deal jackets to eliminate storage costs or sending deals to lenders digitally, which also gets you your money faster. Transitioning to digital documentation can save massive amounts of space in the office, and cuts down on supply costs, too. Remembering that this clutter will be seen and noticed by customers and can bog down the sales process gives you the opportunity to dust things off and implement improvements where you are able.

Spring is a symbol of growth and newness. Take time this spring to sharpen your transitions and pick up some paperless processes. As we’ve seen, doing this can save you space, headaches, and potentially hundreds of hours. Start cleaning today and explore these advantages for your business.

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Matt Teeters is a Product Planning Manager for F&I applications at Reynolds and Reynolds. He began his career in the support organization, eventually specializing in F&I. He later moved on to quality assurance, evaluating Reynolds F&I solutions. Much of Matt’s recent work as a Product Planning manager has been in the eContracting space and he is a primary contact for many of the lenders Reynolds partners with. He also works on other solutions including the ERA-IGNITE F&I platform and Product Rating and Booking .

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