Economic uncertainty offers opportunity for F&I trailblazers


The economic challenges currently facing the UK could pave the way for trend-setters to emerge as market-leaders. That’s the message from Martin Hill – MD of automotive tech firm DealTrak – in a report which considers the secret to unlocking F&I success in these uncertain economic times.

The bold statement comes in the build-up to Brexit and in the wake of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)’s motor finance report – which likely made for uncomfortable reading for many within the car industry.

 “The automotive sector has always been one which enjoys constant evolution,” Hill explained. “But, with changes in legislation, the Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), diesel-gate, and of course, Brexit, it’s high time for the industry to embrace the ever-evolving landscape.

“As with all periods of great change, they can offer opportunities to those who commit to staying ahead of the curve. Understanding the drivers behind the latest shift in the UK’s F&I marketplace will inevitably pave the way for trend-setters to emerge as market-leaders.”

At a time when consumers are more suspicious of the motor finance industry, there are ways to make the sales process more appealing to buyers. Customers will inevitably arrive on a forecourt with a clear view of the product they want, how much they’re willing to pay and the amount of time they’ll spend haggling with you – before simply walking away.

Automation can speed up the sales process – and provide a huge competitive advantage across the board – but it’s important this isn’t at the detriment of the regulation. After all, a well-streamlined F&I process enables dealers to process more finance applications each day.

Hill continued: “As the hybrid sales process increases, there’s an ever-increasing disconnect between the customer and the salesperson. Buyers can easily become frustrated with the length of time which lapses between making the decision to purchase – and driving away.

“Digitisation has significantly reduced the level of tolerance for reams of paperwork, as well as the need to repeat basic information – such as name, address, date of birth – multiple times. Although it’s a given that dealerships will work with several lenders and utilise multiple compliance tools, in 2019, a firm shouldn’t need to log onto each point of sale system separately – such practices are outdated and inefficient. The search for integration is therefore crucial.”

While no one can predict – with any certainty – what the next 12 months will look like for the retail sector, DealTrak’s research around ‘the secret to unlocking F&I success in 2019’ can be seen in its full-length report.