How to Keep F&I flowing post-COVID

Toy Car

In this article: Retail financing was already under the microscope before the pandemic hit. Now it could be the key to boosting your business as we come out of lockdown

The lockdown is clearly the greatest test of stamina and resolve that most of us will ever undergo, and businesses are now counting the painful cost of having closed their doors for such a prolonged stint. But as those doors reopen, finance and insurance (F&I) will be front and centre in the automotive retail sector’s recovery.

We’re already seeing the first signs of a resurgence in the form of incremental footfall from private consumers and returning demand from the commercial sector, including critical service providers. Customers are now thinking about their next vehicle purchase, and dealerships are reporting an encouraging upward trend in sales-related calls from prospective customers whose desire to return to normality has clearly taken hold.

Get ready to sell

The F&I sector has been under a lot of scrutiny lately, with question marks hanging over everything from commission structures and incentives to the very tactics salespeople use. No stone has been left unturned. While a great deal of good work continues to be done by our sector’s professionals and the regulators, some issues are yet to be addressed. The best thing we can do at this point is to make sure that staff in F&I roles have the required skills and training – and, moreover, are offered the opportunity to put them to use.

The best move for businesses would be to help prepare for a successful return to trading by pursuing IMI Accreditation in Finance and Insurance for their teams.

The accreditation route has been developed in conjunction with industry experts and is available via some IMI-approved centres. It’s aimed at professionals in customer facing roles, namely those responsible for selling F&I products to consumers. Accreditation enables individuals to demonstrate their competence and professionalism through both knowledge tests and practical assessments such as roleplay scenarios.

As well as focusing on key skills such as presenting F&I products appropriately, accreditation also highlights your commitment to treating customers fairly while operating in accordance with the current legal guidelines. All those undertaking accreditation will be required to sign an ethical code of conduct.

Know it all

The accreditation path covers a huge range of information and regulations, allowing those in the sector not only to demonstrate that they understand customer needs and concerns, but also that they possess an intimate knowledge of the sector and the products available.

The route to accreditation is broken down into four compulsory modules: Qualify Finance and Insurance Products, Presenting Finance & Insurance Products, Customer Types and Needs, and Regulation and Compliance.

Undertaking accreditation enables industry professionals to demonstrate their current competence and means they will appear on the industry’s Professional Register. F&I accreditation focuses on key parts of the skill set, including:

  • Identifying possible matches with F&I products from information provided by customers
  • Assembling information about F&I products that support the customer’s financial needs
  • Creating relevant sales opportunities
  • Purveying F&I products that support the customer’s intended financial activity
  • Demonstrating in-depth knowledge of regulation and compliance relating to F&I products.

As the motor industry adjusts to post-pandemic life, F&I could be the catalyst that gets everything going again. That will inevitably mean making sure your staff are fully competent. Accreditation could be just the head start you need.

For more information on F&I accreditation head to the IMI’s qualifications page or contact the IMI’s Business Development team on 01992 511 521

Franco Boscarelli MIMI is Business Development Manager at the IMI

This is an edited extract from IMI's new MotorPro magazine, received free as part of IMI membership. Time to find out more about becoming a member of the most influential community in UK automotive…?