Have you ever heard the saying “good times create bad habits?” In my 12 years working in dealerships, I saw plenty of ups and downs. During the ups, I was happy to be selling, driving F&I attachment rates and hitting or exceeding quarterly goals. But it was during the downs that I really zeroed in on honing selling techniques that maximized profits – and then I took those techniques with me to make the good times great.
Between my experience at dealerships and working for Assurant Dealer Services, I’ve learned that optimizing dealership processes and maintaining accountability for upholding those processes is the key to successful F&I selling. And holding regular dealership focus groups is the best way to do that. Focus groups act as an accountability checkpoint for the F&I team and, when implemented correctly, they identify areas of underperformance and turn them into revenue-drivers.
4 Elements of Successful Dealer Focus Groups Run by Assurant Dealer Services
Analyze performance against a comprehensive set of benchmarks.
Establishing the right dealership performance standards up front is critical to ongoing success. They’re the key to connecting your overarching profitability targets with your team’s day-to-day actions and establishing a process for measuring performance consistently. At each focus group meeting run by an Assurant Dealer Services team member, we look at each closed deal and how every missed opportunity impacts your overall goals. This means taking a deep dive into things like customer interviews, tuning the menu presentation to customer needs, proper F&I presentation and at least a dozen other factors that help increase PVR and attachment rates.
Make sure each focus group includes the same key players.
To ensure seamless transitions for the customer and higher attachment rates for your dealership, you have to have the entire team aligned. On a monthly basis, Assurant Dealer Services brings together dealer management, sales managers, desk managers and the F&I manager to evaluate the team’s performance together. This ensures that your key players have a transparent line of sight into areas of success and underperformance, and it allows your team to workshop areas for improvement together. Before each meeting ends, measurable decisions are set forth so performance can be tracked and the data evaluated at the next month’s meeting.
Agree on specific, measurable, time-bound commitments.
Data is only worth what you use it for. Monthly focus groups are the perfect opportunity to evaluate relevant performance data and decide how to put it into action at your dealership. Properly assessed data reflects missed opportunities. Over the years, I’ve led focus groups to identify opportunities for more success, and there are usually many. From sales managers setting the need for F&I products earlier in the sales cycle with pre-interviews, to effectively using visual sales tools as part of the F&I conversation or encouraging early manager intervention when pre-interviews don’t occur—there are hundreds of potential outputs from a successful focus group. But the key is to make the next steps specific, set a time frame for completion and agree on how you’ll measure success.
Focus on successful PVR and attachment rate growth as the outcome.
I’ve seen successful focus groups lead to increases in PVR of 300% to 600% and uptakes in VSC attachment rates between 18% and 25%. While results are never guaranteed, the importance of focus groups as part of your dealerships F&I selling strategy can’t be overestimated. In my role at Assurant Dealer Services, I view running focus groups as one of most important efforts I can make to help drive client profitability. It’s all about stepping back to take in a big picture view, then deciding how to act.
Looking at the Big Picture: Optimizing F&I Sales
Successful focus groups are one of many tools to drive F&I sales at your dealership. As you look for new ways to optimize the processes at your dealership and work toward maximum profitability, an in-depth F&I analysis is a good starting point. You can schedule a complementary F&I analysis with Assurant Dealer Services at any time, and we’ll help you identify your top areas of opportunity. We’ll evaluate everything from your process flow for incoming calls to your post-sale follow up techniques – and then we’ll provide a free, actionable report that your team can use to improve performance.