The F&I Office is Going Extinct, Fiat Chrysler Exec Predicts

Dinosaur BonesIn five years, the dealership F&I office will no longer exist, at least not in the traditional sense, Peter Grady, vice president of network development for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, told auto financiers in a session last week at CBA Live.

The process in the finance office at a dealership takes too long, he said, and much of that process, such as determining a consumer’s creditworthiness, “can be sorted well in advance.” Utilizing technology and incorporating a more digital experience into the car-buying process can limit the time spent in a dealership to just over an hour, he said.

However, pushback from dealers will slow the shift. Grady said that 20% of dealers are typically on the cutting edge, while 70% are true followers — “If a manufacturer tells them to do it, they do it,” he said. “The bottom 10% will resist virtually everything — they believe that ‘my customer wants a stack of paper,’ that they want to spend the time at the dealership.” But customers only want to be part of the ownership process, not the transaction process, he said.

Dealers still looking to entice customers into visiting the F&I office should strive to treat them to a luxury experience, he advised. “If you’re [working] in the F&I office, you have to prove you’re a better option than clicking a box online,” Grady said. “If customers are treated properly, and in a luxury fashion, if you can do that at a dealership, people will go to the dealers. If you can’t do that, they’ll go to Amazon.”

Learn more about risk and compliance in auto finance May 18 and 19 at the Auto Finance Risk & Compliance Summit 2015 in San Diego. Register here.

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