Marketing strategies for growth: The cash conundrum – maximizing F&I profit from ‘cash’ buyers

Close-up Of Businessperson Taking Bribe From Partner On Wooden Desk
By Myril Shaw

Let’s start with this – 80% of “cash” buyers are not using liquid cash. What does that mean? When a customer walks in and says that they are paying cash, the odds are that they talked to their local bank or credit union, that they are using part of a home equity line, that they are selling stocks or other investments – it is unlikely that they are simply using free cash from their checking or savings account.

So what are the implications for the dealer?

The first thing this means is you have to train the salesperson how to say, “That’s great! When we are done here our Business Manager will need to go over a few items with you – we’ll be sure to let him/her know” – and then just move on with the process of selecting/selling a unit.

That simple sentence also sets the stage for one of the single most important dealership rules – 100% of the customers see the business manager/delivery coordinator 100% of the time – NO EXCEPTIONS. This is the 100% TO (Turn-Over) rule – and it has to be undisputed and non-negotiable.

It is easy for a salesperson to get excited about the prospect of a quick and easy sale. However, they must learn, “I’m paying cash” is not a synonym for fast and easy. The customer experience still has to be delightful and a smooth and complete process will deliver that – and potentially put some extra cash in your salesperson’s pocket.

Once your customer is ready to buy, have them sit down with the Business Manager/Delivery Coordinator. There are two major parts to the conversation before any checks are written, any deposits are taken, any paperwork is signed.

“Mr./Ms. Customer, I understand that you are paying cash – it is great that you are in a position to do that.  Given your ability to do that, I would expect that you have great credit. Wouldn’t you like to at least explore your finance options here – and maybe preserve some of that cash for more fun on the lake?” 

If they answer affirmatively, you are off and running.

What if they say no?

“Okay, no problem, I need to be sure that we get the paperwork done right the first time. For the title, who will we be showing as the lienholder?” 

If your customer is using cash borrowed elsewhere, this question will reveal that and give you a second shot at doing the financing. If they are planning on using a credit union, the odds are that while they may get a slightly better interest rate, they are probably getting a far shorter term. You will likely be able to offer a payment that is consequentially better than what the credit union is offering.

Now for the second part of the conversation. “Mr./Ms. Customer, I am legally required to let you know the protective options that are available to you – and I think that you will really like what some of these offers – they really help put your mind at ease and allow you to enjoy this lifestyle so much more.”

Every available protective product (that makes sense) should be presented to the customer. And then at the end of that process, the customer will sign a Protective Product Acceptance and Waiver – showing which products were presented and which were declined and which were accepted. This step will save you from a lot of potential future heartaches, such as a customer coming back later and saying, “You never told me about such and such.”

That’s it. Following this simple process gives you the opportunity to maximize your profits while ensuring a delighted customer.

“I’m paying cash” is the start of a great experience – not the end of it. Make the most of it.

Myril Shaw is the chief operating officer of Dealer Profit Services, a member of the Boating Industry Top 100 Leadership Alliance. He may be reached at

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