How the Internet can snag more F&I business for car dealers
Interview conducted by and article written by Donna Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Paglia: If customers see the menu online and then on the salesperson's desk and then again in the F&I office, they are more likely to trust the prices quoted and feel comfortable with products being offered.
Some in the industry think the Internet will hamper F&I sales, but not auto retail veteran and Internet consultant Ralph Paglia in Gilbert, Ariz.
Paglia, who has a background in both technology and F&I, says the Web is conducive to shopping for finance and insurance products.
"Customers like to take their time and absorb information, and they can do it online," he explains. "At most dealerships, finance managers are already presenting products on a menu displayed on a computer monitor. If menu selling works, then using the Web to sell F&I products will work."
Read original article at: http://www.autonews.com/article/20110504/FINANCE_AND_INSURANCE/1105...
Here's how Paglia says dealers can use the Internet to give F&I a boost:
- Display product menus on the dealership Web site. If customers see the menu online and then on the salesperson's desk and then again in the F&I office, they are more likely to trust the prices quoted and feel comfortable with products being offered. If customers are familiar with the products, the finance manager can just offer to answer questions.
- Use tables and charts. People like to see tables and charts that help them figure out what they want and the value point that's right for them. For example, if they plan to keep the car for three years, they might consult a chart to find out what a three-year extended service contract would cost.
- Provide a link to those charts. Don't put charts on the home page. Instead, place a link on the home page telling customers to click here to see a mileage and rate chart. "It shouldn't be in your face," Paglia says.
- Use video demonstrations to build credibility. The typical dealership TV commercial uses a talking head to promote a sale. Instead, use vendor videos that are scientifically based - the ones that show a guy in a lab coat comparing cars with and without protective coating. Product suppliers usually can spend more money producing videos than dealers can.
- "It's better than a finance manager talking about why customers need a product," Paglia says.
- Show customer testimonials. Feature interviews with customers of a variety of ages and socioeconomic backgrounds. That way, a broader group of people can identify with the pitch.
- Provide links on the home page to customer reviews on a third-party site. Customers are far more likely to believe reviews when the site is hosted by a third party.
- Urge customers to rate and review the dealership online. More prospects are consulting online reviews before making purchases. Make it easy for customers to complete a survey. Example: Send e-mails to customers asking them to share their experiences by clicking on any of the following links. Choose the rating sites that are most popular in the area.
- Respond to negative reviews. The dealership should be the voice of reason. Always apologize when people have a bad experience, no matter what the cause. "If the dealer does not respond, the story is one-sided," Paglia says. "It's not about that one person. It's about everyone else who will see this on the Web."
- Grab attention with rich media. Interactive slide shows, video and caricatures can be effective. But keep the message simple, such as: "Get approved in seconds."
- Keep it quiet. The video should be silent or should be click-to-play, rather than play automatically. Many people visit sites while they are at work. If the sound is turned up, colleagues will hear it.
- Hold the video to a third of the space on the home page. The general rule is that the top third should be navigation, the middle third can be rich media or action, and the bottom third houses expanded topics such as a story about the dealership or sales incentives or special events.
- Compare products and services. Educating the prospect can reduce time spent in the F&I office and make the presentation go more smoothly. For example, compare lease to finance.
- Try offering credit pre-approval online. This can increase the flow of solid online sales prospects, and dealers can get a feel for customers' creditworthiness.
- Use a talking credit application. In this application, a person appears to guide viewers through the process. It improves chances the application will be completed. Says Paglia: "Most static credit applications are abandoned before being submitted."
You can reach Donna Harris at email@example.com.