The rapid shift to digital retail — accelerated in part by the coronavirus pandemic — is supposed to displace the F&I office system that requires customers to spend extensive time in the store.
In fact, a survey of 88 dealership F&I managers showed that slightly less than half reported customers spending about the same amount of time in their office as before the pandemic.
Other survey results, compiled from Nov. 11 through Dec. 4 by Automotive News, showed there was not much of a reduction in F&I staff because of the adoption of digital tools, and a large percentage of managers didn’t think staffing would change in the near future. Respondents were more split on how soon it will be until half of F&I deals are done away from the dealership office.
Retailers say some customers can’t move easily through a digital process. Those include people who are credit crunched, credit thin and credit complex who would need a person to help them structure a deal that a lender would approve.
While digital tools are moving the F&I office forward, nearly 3 out of 4 F&I managers felt the technology was helping their work and not displacing employees.