There is a unique relationship between a customer, salesperson, and Finance Manager.   It’s easy for dealers to forget that the customer experience is beholden to the dynamics of each transaction and the synergy of the sales department.

It starts with the arrival of the customer. They either make connection with the salesperson or not.  There is no middle ground, and there is not enough time to make up for what isn’t working.

When you’re lucky, the customer and salesperson strike up a nice rapport.  It usually translates to a quicker and remarkably smoother transaction.  Relationship.  Just when they consummate it with a handshake agreement, it’s time to start all over again…with the handoff to a Finance Manager. Talk about letting the wind out of the sales!

Following hours of test drive, negotiation, deal structure details, and finally agreement, the customer is forced to start again with someone new.  And this new person is in charge of every piece of personal information about the customer.   Your customer is sequestered in a finance office to discuss more numbers, products, and finalize a commitment with someone often before they trust them.  If the deal has dragged on for hours, they enter F&I without an ear for any product whatsoever.  They just want to leave, which of course means your F&I Managers blank on the deal.   A good F&I Manager can gain a customer’s trust quickly by understanding that this transition can be very frightening for a buyer.  The most obvious ploy for a salesperson is to capitalize on a buyer’s ignorance by fast-talking them into product with false promise.  But the truth is customers appreciate a transparent understanding of the product, as well as a respect for the relationship.  And they buy more because of it.

A good salesperson can sell product.  A great one can sell the entire process. 
A cohesive sales department, understanding the customer, and bringing them to a level of comfort with the sale is the key to capitalizing on the relationship.  Because that’s true value, and a customer will gladly pay you for delivering it.

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Comment by Steve Richards on August 4, 2013 at 7:16pm

"A blind dog with a note in his mouth can sell a car.  It takes something more to make good money doing it." Absolutely true and well-put! It requires a highly competent sales person to make money selling a car, and most dealers employ a sales process that makes both the consumer and sales person uncomfortable. Turnover? It's no wonder. Nice post Gina, and the solution is?

Comment by Charles Shamblee III on August 1, 2013 at 10:30am

I like Ruggles' comment... paperwork is the finalization of the sales process.

Comment by David Ruggles on July 30, 2013 at 3:04pm

In the words of Pat Ryan, we might stop referring to them as F&I.  That would be an excellent start.  And we might start hiring more women for the job. 

Comment by L Wittrock on July 30, 2013 at 12:35pm

For Daniel:

Yes indeed, have F&I meet everyone:

(1) This resets the clock between the sales process and F&I

(2) Explain what will occur during the next 15-20 minutes and that we will have you shortly on your way in your new (model)

(3) Review Credit App, Insurance Coverage. Income, etc

(4) Ask a few probing questions (a) How long do you expect to keep... (b) How many miles do you... General use of this...

This removes the uncertainty of stepping blindly into the dreaded Finance Office and you have established some rapport with your guest.


Comment by Hannah Philpott on July 29, 2013 at 9:26am

This is a great post. Very informational. 

Comment by David Ruggles on July 27, 2013 at 4:27pm

This is completely true, which begs the question, "What is wrong with our industry that we have such incredible staff turnover."  The closing ratio of repeat customers is sky high.  With a first encounter, it is dismal.  The Internet makes it more difficult to buy enough time to create a customer/sales person bond. Relationship building has never been more important.  Its not so much about the sale.  Its about gross profit.  I blind dog with a note in his mouth can sell a car.  It takes something more to make good money doing it. 

Comment by Gina Parr on July 27, 2013 at 4:26pm
Absolutely! And, as soon as the customer commits. It is so important that the customer has the perception that the process is moving quickly. A simple intro from F & I explaining next steps will make a great impact.
Comment by Richard Stone on July 27, 2013 at 4:23pm


Good Post.  All three of these are 'moments of truth' and can go sideways quickly if not delivered well.  We (at this store) talk about 'transferring equity' into the Finance Office by the sales person and then transferring it back out again by the finance manager at the end - no canned lines, just an easy, happy transition. Works for us.

Comment by Daniel Tegeder on July 27, 2013 at 4:05pm

Would you recommend the Fi meet everyone first on the floor?

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