A symbiotic relationship

Liquid Sports Marine is a long-time believer in in-house F&I. It not only has the function in-house, but it’s backed by at least one full-time F&I salesperson and turns over 100 percent of customers to this person or department. The Orlando, Fla.-based dealership has used this structure since the inception of its F&I department more than 10 years ago.

“You can control the whole sale [with an in-house F&I department],” says Mark Watts, owner of Liquid Sports. “The reserves we get from the financing have more than paid for the position and help the bottom line. We control all aspects of the sale,
and that means a lot to the customer.”

Although some smaller dealers might be intimidated by the idea of opening their own F&I department, instead of relying on third-party providers, it can be done, Watts insists.

“A sharp sales guy can do F&I, if necessary,” Watts says. “Besides, everything’s automated these days, which makes it a lot easier. To me it’s a no-brainer, not a hassle.”

Liquid Sports has gained some of its F&I success from its work with extended warranty provider FPC Premium Marine Protection.

The warranty company not only offers extended contracts for boats, but also has an accessory coverage offer – including items like tower speakers and ballast systems under the protection – that has been a hit with Liquid Sports’ watersports-loving clientele.

During the course of boat sales, the dealership’s customers are presented the opportunity for FPC coverage and if the customer chooses to decline the offer, they must sign a form saying as much.
“It makes them stop and think ‘Do I really want this?’” Watts says. “When we first started [having customers sign to decline], it boosted sales of the package up 30 to 35 percent.”

Additionally, FPC pays the full retail labor rate. The extended warranty keeps customers with Liquid Sports for service work and transfers with the boat.

Watts credits the dealership’s F&I success to Peggy Wilkerson, the department’s manager.

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