For most dealers nationwide, a one-pricing sales strategy is a tough concept to accept. To even
suggest that their sales staff should be given the authority to finalize every
transaction at their desks and include the menu presentation without sending
any customer into “the box” is heart-stopping for them. What about banning the
F&I office altogether?
Naysayers will tell you it can’t be done. You have to lock down customers in the traditional
F&I office in order to sell money-making products that earn profits. No
sales person can possibly sell the car and aftermarket products as well!
Well, one dealer I know is doing just that and very successfully. During these tough economic
times, Colonial Toyota in Milford, CT, made a critical decision. The dealer
chose to ban the F&I office and let his sales staff take charge of every transaction
from beginning to end. He gave
them all the title of “sales manager.” I applaud Colonial Toyota for realizing
that today’s customers have changed and they needed to initiate their own
changes to capture their business.
I was hired to train these sales managers in the proper and most effective presentation of
menu presentation. I was skeptical at first, and then wholly impressed by this
dealer’s innovative “out of the box” thinking. The sales staff was enthusiastic
and infused with optimism. The showroom is humming to a different beat of the
drum and the excitement is palpable. Customers are buying and liking the
upfront honesty projected by the staff.
Ironically, far too many dealerships still don’t understand the necessity for transparent
selling. They would rather stick to the status quo and continue to use outdated
sales techniques. Their F&I managers tout their use of menu selling, but
their process is seldom conducted with proper disclosures. They rarely review
the base payment with customers for fear that any upfront disclosure will
reduce their personal income. Although there are several great menu software
providers on the market, the reality is that individual dealership menus are
often changed to accommodate the missing base payment or itemization of cost.
Dealers and F&I managers fear they cannot make a profit by being upfront
with their customers. It’s time to set fears aside.
One-price vehicle sales and the menu go together. Take Saturn, for example. Back in
1989-1990, when they first opened their doors with a brave new concept of “one-price”
sales, the so-called experts in the industry said it wouldn’t work. Customers wanted to haggle for the best deal.
Customer wouldn’t pay retail for a car without the bargaining process.
Surprise! Customers did buy Saturns
with the one-price offer and were happy to do it. The showrooms were packed
with customers and the cars were hard to come by!
Especially to today’s recession market, more dealers should think seriously about changing
their ways. Perhaps they should get on the phone and talk with other dealers
who are successfully using the one-price sales system. They will learn that a transparent finance process is the best
way to increase overall profits, while limiting liability and keeping customers
coming back for more. They will learn that, sometimes, it’s best to just clean
out the barn! Get rid of old practices that aren’t working. This clean-up
process comes with an important “fiat,” of course. The sales staff must receive
thorough training in how to effectively fulfill their new obligations. Dealers
will have to make an investment in their education so that everyone is on the
AutoNation demonstrated that one-price sales on pre-owned vehicles is not only feasible,
but profitable. In 1996, when this pioneer of menu selling opened its doors to transparent
selling policies, their showrooms were open environments. Like Saturn, the
showrooms were soon packed with customers who weren’t dragged from one office
to another. They were sold the vehicle of choice and a menu presentation
followed. The pessimists were astounded by the results. How could anyone make a
profit this way and, especially, by being honest and not playing the game? In
AutoNation’s menu selling, every product was priced consistently and offered
100% of the time to every customer! And . . . no customer was ever sent into “the
box” for a grueling, much dreaded, pressure-filled sales battle!
The more transparent your sales procedure becomes, the more income you will generate. That’s a fact. But it’s also true that
nothing good comes without hard work. Changing ingrained habits is a daunting
task. Doing a complete turnabout is scary. Learning innovative techniques may
seem risky, but the rewards are plentiful. Now is the time for your dealership
to take a new look at its old ways of doing business.
Most of us had to spend considerable time learning now to use computers and the Internet and
the plethora of software available for running our business. The long hours
spent were worth it. Our office work was streamlined. Communication with customers
and suppliers improved and business profits grew. The quantity of documents
filed in already bulging cabinets was significantly cut. We became leaner and
When initiating a change in procedures, training is critical. You want your staff to feel
secure and optimistic. This only comes when they can meet any customer at any
income level and guide them intelligently into making the right choices. Give
them the tools to be their best. Customers buy from those who exude
self-confidence and know how to communicate effectively. Give your sales team
new responsibilities, new techniques, new expectations, then train them in how
to be successful in their endeavors and then watch them reel in the profits!
CCI Learning Center provides online workshops for any professional in or out of the
automotive business who seeks a position in management. We work with
automotive, RV, credit unions and call centers nationwide. CCI Learning Center
will be offering a new online workshop on developing an “in-house, virtual
finance office” soon! Your dealership can be open for business on a 24/7 basis.
We are experts in teaching your team how to increase profits by thinking
outside the box! Give us a call . . . today!