Conquering Corona Mindset at Car Dealerships

An F&I pro describes life at his auto dealership, how customers are acting and how to make the most of it.

Justin B. Gasman

May 8, 2020

3 Min Read
Justin Gasman cropped
Wards Industry Voices contributor Justin Gasman

They are coming in scared. They are wearing gloves and protection masks. For the first time in history, they aren’t stealing our pens! They are bringing their own.

It is life at the car dealership during coronavirus times.

We are interacting with customers in a much different fashion than we are used to. The playing field has been evened. We have much common ground, which is a silver lining.

Normally, we are trained to pick up clues and within minutes, establish credibility and find common ground.

The sales incentives have never been better with zero percent for 84 months and 120 days until first payment.

The time to complete the sale has decreased tremendously. The days of customers shopping you against five other dealers have ceased. They do not want to go into five dealerships. They want to get in and get out.

If they like, trust, and respect you, the resistance level drops and the gross profit increases. With online credit apps and the ability to hold a digital chat or a good old-fashioned phone call, the customer can send over all the documentation you need, such as driver’s licenses, proof of insurance, and trade registration along with payoff information.

Then you can essentially prepare the deal, get it approved and be ready for the show when they arrive to complete the necessary paperwork. Ask for the gross and you just might get it.

Some personal tips:

When you’re not at the dealership, try to stay fit. Go for a walk. Stay positive. Stay #Bing! Do whatever it takes to not allow the situation we are in to overwhelm you.

stay positive sign.jpg

stay positive sign

That is really tough to do right now. A lot of people are struggling – they are scared. Stay connected and stay mentally fit.

Relationships matter. To quote an interlude from one of my favorite songs by Dennis Lloyd titled GFY: “And whether your relationship is awful, good, or great, we don’t like endings.”

We don’t like to lose things. And especially, we don’t like to lose things that are important to us. Make no mistake, relationships are the single most important thing to you and your life. They are the source of memories, good and bad.

When you think back on your life in the twilight years, you’re not going to say, “I wish I owned a better phone. I wish I spent more time on the internet. I wish I spent more time at work or sleeping.”

It’s going to be: “I wish I spent more time with the people I love.”

For dealership F&I people, our best customer is our salespersons. When you connect with them, they can provide valuable intel so you can maximize your time with the guest.

Communication and understanding are paramount during times like these.

When people are scared and nervous they want to be protected. The likelihood of being rejected when you transition into your F&I menu presentation is low.

The customers who might have stopped you and said, “I’ve done this before, this isn’t my first rodeo, save your breath” has checked out.

People today want F&I coverage because they have little certainty on many things in their life. Put their minds at ease and protect them. Panic prevents profit. Full price is a fair price. Gross is a state of mind.

Make a connection with the customer. How do you spell “rock” backwards? I know you’re sounding it out as you read this. It’s “kcor”. Made you think, didn’t I? Scratch their record. Give them a wow factor. Change something about your process to connect with them. Play music.

You have time. There’s no excuse to not spend time with customers. Put them in their comfort zone. Don’t talk politics. Make your paycheck great again. Make the car buying experience great again. Stay connected to the salespeople, your friends and family.

This is just a moment in time. In many ways, going through this is making us better people. This makes us uncomfortable, and that is where growth comes from. Do it live!

Justin B Gasman is financial services director at McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC in Boulder, CO.

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