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When Auto Sales Go Online, It’s All About F&I

Toby Graham /

 Global crisis! Economic peril! Industry in upheaval!

Boy, the COVID-19 pandemic sure sounds a lot more exciting on paper.

Here’s a more realistic headline for my experience during the apocalypse: “Work-from-home marketer procrastinates by shopping online!”

I’m being facetious. I know how fortunate I am to have a job, a home, and a stable (if kind of boring) life at the moment. And make no mistake—this crisis is very real, and it’s transforming society, the economy, and the world as we know it.

In fact, one of the most profound changes to come from the pandemic is the proliferation of online shopping. More and more people (including yours truly, particularly when I’m supposed to be working on a blog post) are buying more and more things over the internet.

Some businesses were well-prepared for the shift to e-commerce and contactless sales. Others, like auto dealerships, have had to take significant steps to adapt. And in the case of dealers, they’re finding that the changes reverberate throughout their entire organizations, shaking up long-established roles and priorities.

F&I and Showroom has the story:

“Since the widespread containment efforts caused by COVID-19, auto dealerships have been among the hardest-hit industries. Much of this is as a result of dealerships either being forced to close, limited to online sales, or if they’re still open, the virus has limited foot traffic in the showroom.

This means that contactless transactions are, at least for the near future, priority one in the transactions playbook for dealers. Because of this, F&I must play a leading role in helping educate people online during the research, transaction, and post-sale phase of each sale.”

That’s right—in these contactless times, the F&I department is taking on many responsibilities that typically belong to sales. From initiating conversations to closing deals, F&I is engaging with customers in more prolonged and important ways online. This presents dealerships with new opportunities to win over buyers who, let’s say, didn’t love the old model:

“According to a recent industry survey, approximately 87% of car shoppers disliked some aspect of car shopping at dealerships, with the majority saying they felt pressured to buy right away or to buy additional F&I features. This pressure and mindset is reduced when car shoppers have information on F&I product options ahead of time. This allows them to research the benefits of these products in the comfort of their own home, as opposed to being in the F&I office where they don’t have time to make proper considerations.”

Read “Where F&I Can Help Increase Successful Contactless Auto Transactions.”

KPA ensures your dealership and F&I office are in compliance with all relevant state and federal rules, regardless of whether you’re selling online or in-person. Learn more.

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