JM&A Group Blog

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Virtual F&I FAQ: Everything You Need to Know

Jul 28, 2020

With dealers continuing to figure out how to meet their customers where they are, many find themselves looking towards digital solutions, like Virtual F&I, to make the F&I process easier and more convenient for the buyer.

As VFI offers a brand new solution to the F&I buying process, we've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions we’ve gotten from dealers using the program.

In this article, you will find questions collected from dealers all across the country based on recent survey results. 

The impacts of social distancing will continue to be felt for the foreseeable future, making virtual retail options available through VFI a must-have.

So let's get started.

 

What is Virtual F&I?

Virtual F&I is a process used to guide customers through their online vehicle purchase and present F&I products to customers via video conferencing. This process eliminates the need for an in-person meeting and brings the car buying & F&I purchasing experience into the digital realm.

 

Can I use Virtual F&I as well as Traditional F&I processes?

Yes, absolutely. It is actually encouraged to utilize both virtual and traditional forms of F&I. This allows the customer to choose something they feel comfortable with and makes the most sense for that situation. A healthy mix of both is recommended.

See our guide to selling F&I online

 

How will the vehicle purchase process be different for customers?

The VFI process will allow customers to have a more personal interaction with their F&I Managers.With  VFI being one-on-one, the customer receives a clear understanding of the product and process, without distractions that could otherwise happen at the dealership.

 

How long should a VFI transaction take?

Anywhere from 20-25 minutes, depending on customer questions and dialogue. If by any chance there are technical issues it might take 35 minutes, at most.  We take the speediness of the process seriously and understand that it is an important quality our customers look for when working with JM&A.

 

Can my Dealership use the free Zoom account or do they need the paid version?

Here is a link to the different versions of Zoom. Your dealership may need more or less functionality.

 

Who will be delivering Virtual F&I transactions?

Finance Managers in your dealership with the guidance of a JM&A representative. We strongly encourage you to conduct a run-through with your JM&A Field Representative before performing the deals yourself. They are more than willing to assist you in utilizing Virtual F&I.

 

When does the customer receive their product contracts?

The product contracts are given to the customer at the same time as the rest of the paperwork. If a customer requests their product contracts early, they will be emailed straight away.

 

What happens if the customer does not want to be on video?

If a customer objects to being on video, we offer to help them join the Zoom call with their camera turned off, this way we can still be able to use tools like screen share and annotate to present the Menu. It is our goal to be as accommodating as possible.

 

Not everybody wants to be on video or from a customer perspective, maybe they don't have the capability. How does Virtual F&I solve that?

When we initially went through COVID, 50% of customers mentioned being a little resistant to getting on a video conference. As we progressed and as people started using video conferencing more in their everyday lives, that has changed. Now it's a small fraction of customers who mention being uncomfortable while video conferencing.

If a customer is still not comfortable with video conferencing, we don’t want that to stop the process. We're still going to be on video as the F&I manager and maybe the customer won't. But you can still screen share, and you can still make it interactive even if they don't turn on the camera.

 

Is there a particular video conferencing platform that you recommend? 

Most of our experience has been with ZOOM.

We looked at several different video conferencing tools but landed on ZOOM for the features that they had available and for the ease of use. We have dealers using several different tools to facilitate virtual deliveries.

 

What has been the feedback from customers after going to the virtual process? 

We had a pilot run for Virtual F&I and we surveyed all of those customers that were involved. The common theme expressed by participants was that it was easy, convenient, and transparent. These are really all of the things that we wanted to achieve because the more that the customer feels in control, the faster the process is going to feel for them. Playing that to your advantage is key in delivering these deals because what we've found is the more transparent and the more open we are with customers, the easier it is to get to a yes.

 

Why should a dealership that is successful at the traditional F&I model adopt Virtual F&I?

It's not about changing your traditional process. If your traditional process for those in-store customers is successful, absolutely double down. Keep doing it. What we would challenge dealers to look at is: how many customers do they have per month that aren't going through that traditional process for whatever reason? Maybe it's an out-of-state delivery, maybe it's a couple buying a car and the buyer is there and the co-buyer is not. There are several different situations where you don't have all parties physically present in the F&I office and this is not a new problem.

Are you really maximizing F&I on those deliveries that don't come into the dealership? 

Whether it's 2% of your business or 20% of your business, it's important to make sure that you're getting every bit of reserve and every product that you can on those deals and it's important to have a process in place to do that.

 

What if your state requires a wet signature on a form?

Many states still require wet signatures on a few forms. But don’t let that stand in the way of going through a Virtual F&I process. 

What we would encourage you to do is go through a virtual affirmation process, go through the interview, go through the menu presentation and sell those products. Capture as many signatures as you can electronically. Then when the physical delivery takes place, whether it's in your showroom, at the customer's office, or at the customer’s  home, you will have the opportunity to capture the wet signatures at that point. 

When doing at-home deliveries, it is important to remember to consult your legal counsel on various issues such as right to rescission to ensure legal compliance in all areas of the law.

 

What are some ways to implement a sustaining and successful Virtual F&I program for a dealer? 

You want to make sure that everybody understands the vision. We want to make sure that we're putting a focus on these deals. These deals are very visible. You want to make the people involved with this process understand the vision and the fact that there's going to be visibility around them. When people understand there's going to be visibility around them, almost instantly performance increases. 

If you implement a Virtual F&I process we highly recommend  having someone in the store be a champion of that process. Somebody who is in management, someone who has authority and can say “Hey guys this is what we're doing. We're going to set up designated times to practice and train and we're actually going to start shadowing each other and give each other pointers while you're doing a live delivery with a customer.” You want to make sure you're creating a culture around supporting the process.

The more support the process gets the more successful it's going to be.

 

What makes JM&A’s virtual process different from others in the industry?

The experience that we bring to the table. We started this in October of 2018 so we've been fine-tuning  this for some time now. We delivered, along with our dealers, over five thousand virtual deliveries. We know a lot of the pitfalls. We've made a lot of mistakes along the way. There are some things we thought would work that didn't work so well. There are some things that we didn't think would work that all of a sudden did work. So we have a lot of learnings and experience under our belt. We have people on our team that have gone through hundreds of deliveries and we've really refined our processes and our procedures based on this.

 

Is Virtual F&I in compliance with current legal regulations/laws?

The use of Virtual F&I raises a few legal/compliance considerations:

Home Delivery and the Right to Rescission -- Referred to by some as the "cooling off" period, both federal and state laws provide consumers with a limited right to cancel sales made at their homes under certain circumstances. At a federal level, it is clear that the law does not apply to the sale of motor vehicles provided the seller has at least one permanent place of business (which our dealers have). More detail can be found on the FTC's website. The law is far less clear at the state level. It is important that all dealers seek advice from their local counsel on the state laws that might affect this new way of doing business.

E-Signatures vs. Wet Signatures-- We have reached a stage where “ink on paper” isn’t the only option for authorizing a document or transaction. Unfortunately, there is no blanket answer clarifying in which circumstances a wet signature, as opposed to an e-signature, is permissible. While at the federal level digital and electronic signatures have held the same legal standing as wet signatures, this issue is also impacted by both state law and by certain businesses' internal operating guidelines (including the guidelines of specific lenders). Given this, it is important that all dealers seek advice from their local counsel on the state laws that might affect this issue, as well as the specific rules of their lenders.

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Ryan Leschel
Written by Ryan Leschel

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