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Dozens of newly created automated menu systems are popping up on Internet sites and through sales vendors claiming their use will vastly increase dealer profits while limiting liability. Of course each system is “the best one available!” Can you believe the advertising hype?
Most F&I trainers support at least one or more of these systems and the vendors who sell them. Some have even become vendors themselves. They say they can guarantee a substantial increase in any dealer’s bottom line, IF the dealer signs up with them today!
I fully support the idea of an automated menu system, but my support comes with words of caution. “No technology will ever replace an enthusiastic finance professional who consistently offers their products while being interactive with the customer and determined to enhance their overall buying experience.”
If your finance manager doesn’t completely understand the concept behind menu selling, it won’t matter what automated system you use or which vendor you believe. An automated menu does speed delivery time, and it will reduce errors (which in and of itself is useful, considering the cost of an F&I employee who hasn’t been properly trained), but no automated menu system will EVER do the work for you. Person to person dialogue is still imperative. That’s how dealership trust and loyalty is gained and retained.
For the past decade, I have visited dealerships nationwide as a consultant and reviewed countless transactions for proper menu presentation. Here’s the truth. Far too many of the menus have either been omitted from the deal jackets or significantly altered, based upon the F&I associate’s individual decision. The base payment has been deleted, the APR, the relevant buying numbers, and any significant disclosures are wiped from the face of the menu. That decision is almost always due to the F&I manager’s comfort level, degree of training, or personal desire to hit his pay plan goals. Keep in mind that the menu provider is not responsible for mandating full disclosure and certainly won’t take accountability for any tampering with disclosure terms.
A transparent selling system puts all the cards on the table for every customer and allows that customer to choose whatever product he or she wants or needs. Or doesn’t want, because it isn’t needed! Regrettably, full disclosure and bankable candor are still not a conventional practice. Many finance managers still don’t buy into the necessity for a transparent selling system, even though their pushy selling techniques put the dealership’s reputation at risk or diminish customer retention. No automated menu system is going to get them to comply with federal regulations. It will do nothing to gain their trust or get them to change their ways. A crafty manager will simply figure out how to delete and modify and adjust, until the system suits his long-used and outdated F&I methods. Ironically, dealers can implement checkpoints to mandate that 100% of the menu be presented to 100% of their customers 100% of the time. .. . but few succeed in this attempt. Even when the menus are printed and signed by the customer, they are free from any notations (sterile) and there is no evidence of an actual presentation or engagement with the finance manager. No indication that the finance manager tackled an objection! Just because the F&I manager had the customer authorize the menu form doesn’t mean the menu was delivered as trained to do.
One of the benefits of menu selling is to prevent the prejudging of customers by presenting every product 100% of the time utilizing consistent pricing. A finance manager who operates from fear of the unknown often deletes one product or the other and discounts them prior to the presentation of the menu! Unless those terms and products are locked down, an automated menu system will not deter this behavior. Nor will it substitute for a well-rehearsed professional sales associate.
Automated systems are here to stay. Some are much better than others. Regardless of which one a dealership decides to use, the results promised and expected will not take place if the foundation for menu use hasn’t been well established. Until everyone in the dealership knows and understands the basic fundamentals of menu selling and the concept of why transparent F&I sales work, investing significant dollars in an automated product will be a waste. You can’t speak or write French, until you have the vocabulary. Becoming fluent in speaking “menu selling” comes with proper and ongoing training.
CCI Learning Center is a leader in providing finance & insurance training for automotive, RV, and powersport dealers nationwide. CCI recently announced its new online F&I workshop: F&I Fundamentals & Integrity Sales. Learn how to effectively enhance your menu presentation with this customized, cost-efficient live online workshop that will get your finance manager back on track. Nothing great has ever been easy. If you keep on doing what you’ve been doing, you keep on getting what you got! CCI continues to offer all its services, including on-site training at a minimal cost through efficient reinsurance programs geared towards enhanced future attainment. Contact CCI today for a free 20-minute analysis.