Five key questions about adding F&I products to your website

It’s a simply powerful idea that’s beginning to take shape and grow, thanks to the evolving nature of digital automotive retail. And frankly, adding F&I options to your website makes perfect sense. Dealers who do so make it possible for shoppers to learn about product availability and features before arriving at the dealership, which is a great way to establish a dialogue about the entire process, create trust through transparency, and actually boost sales of F&I option items. In fact, according to a recent study published in Automotive News by MakeMyDeal, a Cox Automotive company, “83 percent of car shoppers would be interested in learning more about F&I products, but before they get to the store.”

That follows along with larger trends that show how car shoppers take those first few research and purchase steps online before ever going to the showroom. By offering a complete digital experience that helps them select the right vehicle and protection add-ons, dealers create an ideal transition point from online to in-store that increases efficiency, trust and maximizes profitability. Adding critical functionality like this into a highly tuned digital workflow such as your website must be done carefully, however. A bad implementation or inadequate software that results in a hard-to-navigate user experience – or worse, a broken process – will result in lost quality leads and frustrated shoppers. So before you begin to dig into a change such as adding F&I options to your website digital retailing experience, be prepared to answer these five critical questions:  

  1. What types of content can I upload to showcase my F&I options, and how will the content be managed? The study also suggested that consumers were confused by F&I product choices, a sales hurdle that can be helped through the use of content on your website. To do that, make sure you can upload textual product descriptions, videos, PDFs, and image content by product, vehicle, and dealership. In addition, ensure that the content management system used to power your options is one already in place and is responsive – so that it works across all devices.
  2. Is there a limit on how many protection solutions I can add? The right answer should be “no.” Shoppers should have a complete array of options at their fingertips, when it makes sense; a limit imposed by software capability hurts your credibility and lessens the consumer experience. There should never be a limit on the number of protection products that can be displayed, only on the size of the presentation as a result of added products.
  3. Am I able to adjust and change the products that are offered on my own, or am I required to go through tech support?  After initial setup you or your team ought to be able to make changes as needed. Not being able to make options changes on the fly dampens your ability to market the right protection option at the right time. That’s a critical feature, because a connected digital solution requires a nimble approach. For example, shoppers who visit your website via a digital display ad will expect to see relevant content and offerings, regardless of the time or day.
  4. How do I get my lead information, and what information is included? Once a shopper selects a protection item and converts, your team should automatically get a report via your CRM tool or lead tracker. That information should at minimum include the shopper’s personal details and data about the protection item the shopper is interested in.
  5. How do I make sure that the right protection items show up on the right vehicles, and vice-versa? Your F&I online options should include logic that filters by loan, lease or type of model. This is a critical factor because some options are only available on certain vehicles and types of financing. You should also be able to control what can be shown at the model level, so that a buyer isn’t disillusioned when they’re presented with the wrong F&I product on their selected vehicle

As the automotive world evolves toward an online to in-store workflow, adding F&I products to your website is a great step toward optimizing the efficiency and effectiveness of that experience. Doing so, however, takes knowledge of key user experience and retail requirements. So make sure you’re headed in the right direction by asking these five key questions from your Digital Retailing solution provider. And as always, contact Dealertrack for more insight into how you can add the power of digital retailing to your F&I options.  

Ali Mendiola

Ali Mendiola holds the title of Senior Manager, Business Development for Dealertrack’s Digital Retailing Solutions team. The Digital Retailing Solutions team provides consumer facing solutions to dealers, portals and manufacturers, with the goal of improving the online sales process and delivering finance-ready leads to dealers. Ali is responsible for educating Dealertrack’s dealer partners on current and projected automotive shopping habits, as well as technological advancements that will allow dealers to cater to their online consumers. Prior to this, Ali was an employee at General Motors. Ali began her career in the service and parts side of the business, specializing in product accessories. She then transitioned to the digital marketing space accepting the roll of Digital Marketing Specialist for the GM Accessories and Performance Parts team. In this roll, Ali was responsible for all GM Accessories and GM Performance Parts Digital Marketing strategies including media planning, paid search, SEO, website content creation and performance analytics. She also represented the marketing team during the launch of General Motors first eCommerce initiative. Ali then moved to the Cadillac division where she held multiple rolls including Accessories Sales and Marketing Manager and Sales Operations Manager. Her most recent assignment was in the field as a Chevrolet District Sales Manager. In this assignment, Ali consulted with 13 dealerships in the Central Texas area. Her daily responsibilities included working with each dealer to increase sales and customer retention through digital marketing, traditional marketing, the creation and refinement of the in-store selling and follow-up process, as well product knowledge. Ali holds a B.A. in Marketing from The University of Texas at Austin.