October 20, 2020

F&I product sales success owed in part to online visibility

Vehicle sales took a dive in the early weeks of the deadly coronavirus outbreak, but for several finance and insurance product companies, sales have never been better. And each month, those sales keep improving.

The reason could be a combination of factors, those companies say, but success incorporating F&I product information into dealership digital retailing channels is key.

Paul McCarthy, senior vice president of national sales at AUL Corp. in Napa, Calif., said June was the F&I product company’s best month in 30 years, particularly for service contract sales. The growth marked a 20 percent increase over the company’s previous best month in service contract sales, which was in March.

“Our rise in product sales — it’s not simply attributable to an increase in car sales,” McCarthy said. “It’s an increase in awareness for consumers that it’s wise to protect this investment that they’re making.”

The more confident dealerships become transacting online during the pandemic, the better the F&I results. And many F&I providers are keen to assist dealers in the digital transition.

Assurant, a global insurance provider that furnishes finance and insurance products for the automotive industry, said many partnered dealerships reached out to the company for advice on how to display F&I products in a digital environment, particularly in states where shutdowns were most strict.

Ash Bauer, senior vice president at Assurant Resource Automotive, said the attachment rate of F&I products in a digital environment will depend upon how early in the process they are introduced. This is particularly true of younger customers, who may be more receptive to learning about financial services through online content and videos.

Ally Financial, one of the largest U.S. auto lenders that also sells F&I products, offers dealership training to maximize F&I product sales. Last month, Ally released a package of benefits to dealership clients that included information on how to present F&I products in digital environments. Ally has emphasized transacting in digital environments for years, said Mark Manzo, president of insurance at Ally, and is especially focused on creating a positive customer experience during the F&I sales process.

“If the dealer’s successful, we’ll be successful,” Manzo said. “We want to make sure that customers have a good experience all around, especially on their F&I products, so when they come back they understand and appreciate the benefits when it comes time to buy that next vehicle.”