Like a kid in a candy store

Accessibility and options are often the keys to a successful F&I department.

Many customers’ first contact with a dealership is online. Why not add an F&I element there? Many Web site providers offer online credit applications for dealer sites. When Slalom Shop Boats & Yachts revised its Web site, it added a payment calculator, trade-in evaluation and online credit application, which many customers have since taken advantage of, says Darrell Wilson, owner of the three-location Texas dealership.

The new site includes a link to the dealership’s marine insurance provider. Convenience can never be left at the wayside in today’s busy world. Taking a bit of F&I online promotes dealer finance abilities and puts financing on customers’ brains early.

During the course of a sale, Slalom Shop employs myriad incentives to encourage customers to use the company’s F&I department. Having a variety of options available makes it more likely customers will find an offering that fits their needs and eventually follow through with the sale, complete with dealership financing.

The dealership’s offerings range from price assistance initiatives such as rate buy down programs and factory rebates to bonus services such as a free first year of insurance or free extended service contracts, along with other products and services.

Slalom Shop’s F&I department also offers customers credit insurance, boat insurance, Coast Guard documentation and custom lettering, readily available during the course of department personnel’s talks with customers.

The F&I department uses “many professional techniques in their presentation and have been highly successful in achieving their profit targets,” Wilson says. In fact, the dealership’s F&I department accounts for nearly 50 percent of the company’s net profit.

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