Consumer preferences have changed, and our industry is shifting quickly to keep up. It's important that you are seizing every opportunity to do business with your customers in a way that’s efficient and convenient for them. Virtual F&I (VFI) is the latest evolution of our business and is a customer-focused solution that also increases sales and revenue. Successfully implementing Virtual F&I can enhance your profitability and give your customers the experience they prefer.
F&I has historically been one of the last frontier of digitization, almost always requiring people to visit dealerships in person. The industry disruption brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic has shown how vital a digital and online experience is for auto retail businesses. By enabling VFI, your dealership can prepare for this new paradigm, stay ahead of the competition and lead the industry on modern sales practices.
Check out our infographic for an overview, and read on to learn a few ways in which adopting a VFI model will benefit your bottom line.
VFI Reflects Customers' Preferences
Modern customers perform online research before making a purchase - it is now the standard practice of our industry. In fact, it is often the bulk of a buyer’s purchase journey, according to the Digital Marketing Institute.
Cox Automotive reported shoppers are least satisfied with how long the process takes and that paperwork and negotiating are still the most frustrating parts of the car-buying process. The research shows that digital retailing is key to reducing time at the dealership.
When reaching out to these shoppers, a virtual call isn't just as good as an in-person meeting - it can be better. In addition to allowing customers time to consider their options, VFI also gives them a chance to have a personal experience speaking with an F&I Manager. Although the interaction is carried out by video conference instead of in-person, skilled F&I Managers can still build a strong rapport and help customers pick out options that make sense for them.
VFI Enables New Revenue Streams
When switching F&I to a virtual model, the customer isn't the only one with more time to research and prepare for the process. Your staff can employ customer insights to deliver highly targeted services, both during the meeting and on an ongoing basis. This personalized connection between F&I Managers and customers provides opportunities for your company to sell higher-value F&I products.
The Virtual F&I meeting is also a good place to lay the groundwork for future fixed ops and service product sales. When the customer can learn the value of these offerings, in a unique and personalized format, there are great opportunities for ongoing upsells throughout the years. In the comfortable setting of a one-on-one virtual meeting, it's relatively straightforward to present these options and reap greater value from the transaction than would otherwise have occurred.
VFI Is a Seamless Part of an Online Purchase Process
With some OEMs offering a direct, all-online purchase option, your dealership likely already has a digital sales model. Embracing this is a valuable way to expand the options for your customers and boost your bottom line by offering an experience your competitors cannot.
Making the buyer's journey customer-friendly and seamless is not automatic. You need to ensure every element of the purchase can be carried out in an online setting, and this is where VFI shines.
When you create an all-online journey featuring VFI, you should also make sure your web experience is optimized to be user-friendly. This means customers can find the information they’re looking for and start the purchase process when they’re ready. Ensure your website navigation is simple and intuitive, and features clear and simple pricing that matches your in-store offering. Remember, it’s all about the customer, and your goal is to make it as easy as possible for them to follow that path to purchase.
VFI Fits Into Dealerships' Processes
VFI is an exciting new step in the auto sales process and an enabler of positive change, but it is not disruptive to your traditional business model. For example, salespeople working VFI into in-store transactions perform their role as usual, and simply set up a virtual conference with a remote F&I Manager instead of an in-person sit-down. The only change to the process is a virtual vs. in-store meeting. Oftentimes, VFI can even enable a faster experience for the customer since an available F&I Manager could be anywhere - at home, at another store or just down the hall.
VFI ensures you can deliver on an outstanding customer experience by offering a convenient and forward-thinking process. It also allows you to reach customers with customized presentations and play into their preferences, which means it has the potential to protect and even increase PVR.
By utilizing a Virtual F&I process, you prepare your dealership to ride the next wave of transformation and stay ahead of the curve.
Training your sales and F&I team is crucial to making VFI work for you and updating your processes to incorporate best practices. We can help. Reach out to learn more about enhancing your dealership with VFI.