Although this subject has been at the center of some very insightful debates recently, my opinion is a strong YES! F&I departments in automotive dealerships should be playing a major role in the overall social media strategic plan, especially on Facebook™ and Twitter™. After all, the financial business office serves the public in so many beneficial ways; first as a lender to whom the consumer confides their most intimate and private personal information, and also as the products and services provider, embellishing and safeguarding their clients' newly acquired asset and most precious possession and investment... their car! Social Media affords you a chance to subtly showcase these benefits!
The professional men and women who have made a career as Finance and Insurance Managers/Directors should enjoy an esteemed online presence which is directly associated with the dealerships' social platforms. In terms of relationship marketing, it is vitally important that the F&I Managers represent credibility, integrity and a friendly persona; hence, building trusted relationships with their market audience, replacing the old perception of the frightening experience with the man/woman in the office behind closed doors. By optimizing an online presence through the development of an informative blog, while posting innovative videos and creating educational discussions, the F&I manager has an opportunity to assist the consumer to make the best buying decision. The following are just a few examples of blog topics which would prove to be valuable and beneficial to today's consumer:
People love success stories with happy endings and F&I Department Managers have countless stories to tell! Why not share these stories with the General Public? How many times have you seen your customer in the service lane dropping off their vehicle and picking up their rental car with a giant-sized grin on their face because everything was covered under the service contract? Or how about the customer who visits you to file a GAP Insurance claim after their vehicle was stated to be a "total loss"? It turned out their loan balance exceeded the current market value of their auto and the GAP policy saved your customer thousands of out of pocket dollars!
Today's F&I departments, (on the most part), operate with integrity as the staff is educated in areas of compliance to abide to both state and federal lending laws, which demand full disclosure and transparency. The auto industry has come a long way! F&I departments: It is your time to shine and you CAN shine online! Your online reviews are something to rave about and not to worry about!
Allow me to leave you with this social media fun fact... Did you know "Flo"™ from Progressive Insurance has almost four million Facebook™ fans? Who's next....you?
Written and Submitted by Nancy Simmons, Social Media Strategist for VMS, New York... A Finance and Insurance Provider