Guest Post By: John Fuhrman – Director of Training OptionSoft Technology
Menus have been around now for long enough. Most of the more established companies began B.C. (Before Compliance) and it might be worth thinking about effective menu use without the sword of compliance hanging over our head. Doing so can actually increase production, profits and even increase your current level of compliance.
Menus in and of themselves are fancy software calculators that can accurately figure payments and then introduce products to be printed in pretty colors. Menus in and of themselves can’t increase anything. But how they are used can change everything.
For example. If you print a menu for every customer and lay it down in front of every single customer, a lot of your compliance “obligation” is covered. F&I managers who are too focused on being compliant can defend their compliance practices, but certainly are not producing enough to justify their position.
It’s the same thing as having every customer sign the disclosure menu after reviewing which products (if any) they chose and which ones they waived. In a court of law, that would hold as much weight as the waiver signed before riding a bull at a rodeo. If there is damage, the next statement you utter will be followed by a comma and “your honor.”
Just like selling a car is not about trying to close the deal as soon as the customer parks, presenting a menu shouldn’t begin in your office and its goal should not be because you want to be compliant. There should be a complete process that everyone in the chain of sales agrees to and adheres to.
With advances in software, you should be able to build a customer specific menu in seconds and present options that actually fit your customer. You can’t do that when you meet the customer as they are sitting at your desk and you’re already printing a menu. Here’s a real example of how that could be a blown deal.
Father and son come to the dealership because the son just graduated from college and qualifies for the college grad program. Dad is there to make sure his boy doesn’t get taken advantage of. So, they make a deal and ship them to F&I. And the problem begins.
Just as the manager takes his menu and lays it on the desk for review, the father has a change of heart and offers to put half down so his son’s first loan is small. Now, the F&I manager has to explain GAP away by saying to ignore it and the payment won’t be as high. In any case, most, if not all credibility is gone. How could it have been avoided?
Before the customer is shuffled into the F&I “box,” why not go and meet the customer at the sales person’s desk where they are actually relaxing after finalizing a deal. Now, as you sit and discuss title work, correct VIN, etc., there’s a great chance that dad would reveal the larger down payment which allows you time to set up a menu without GAP insurance so you can seamlessly proceed to offer only products you can actually sell.
B.C. menus also helped to limit dealer exposure. For example, without a menu, your F&I department has little choice but to step sell each product individually. This often lends itself to leaving certain products unsold because they are not even mentioned. The dealer could be liable if the customer has an issue that would have been covered by the product or products left off in a step presentation.
Menus by their very nature allow the customer the chance to at least see everything you have. In best case, well presented menus, a dealer should see an average lift of at least 20%. This is because all of the products are presented quickly and accurately so that customers make informed decisions. The benefit is, they are more likely to make a purchase of one or more products, but the real benefit is, dealership exposure is virtually eliminated as all possible products were presented, evaluated and decided by the customer.
The best tip I can provide after decades of training top F&I people is to use the menu as a tool rather than just to follow procedure. Leverage the time you have with a customer to increase production rather than cover your butt. Once someone commits to a menu, it would be highly unlikely that they would ever want to work without one.
John Fuhrman is Director of Training for OptionSoft Technologies, one of the oldest premier menu companies in the industry. He provides dealer level training for all of their products including menus, sales desking, CRM, and there exclusive Service Drive Solutions. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.