SC confident that revamped program can speed dealers’ success

Confidence breeds success.

Or, perhaps, in the case of vehicle sales, speeds success.

When you’re on The Road Ahead, success is measured in dollars and cents, of course, but also in the customer and business relationships you build along the way.

That is why Santander Consumer USA (SC) is confident about our enhanced lending program.

It scores on both of those important measures.

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Here’s what that means to you, the dealer:

  • A pricing strategy calibrated to a dealer-favorable call.
  • Lower price and discount fee and a fresh approach to credit underwriting.
  • Flexibility on financing terms and increased dealer participation.
  • Affordable direct-mail and lead-exchange programs to increase local marketing impact.
  • Most application responses are received within seconds of submission reducing wait times.
  • An enhanced dealer performance management process that means we’re constantly looking for opportunities to improve our relationship.

“SC has represented financial strength and stability, having provided sound programs and unsurpassed support to our dealer associates for more than a decade,” said one sales executive. “That means you can count on SC to be working hard for your success wherever the economy goes.”

Now, it’s easy to claim “strength and stability,” but quite another thing to have numbers to back it up. Here are some numbers that show SC has what it takes to help most dealerships succeed:

  • Top-5 used-car lender in the U.S. with $49 billion managed portfolio.
  • More than $20 billion in annual originations the last two years and higher expectations for 2018.
  • 12,000-plus active dealers served by a nationwide team of Dealer Relationship Managers.
  • 82 percent application-approval rate nationwide with high closure and competitive backend.
  • 79 percent lower fees on average per contract than in 2008.

“A lot of banks look for reasons to not make deals, SC looks for reasons to make deals,” said one dealer.

“It’s amazing when you write all this stuff down and you see where we’ve been and where we’re going,” said Vince Meglio, senior vice president of sales and sales operations at SC.

If you would rather hear these and other details in person, contact your Dealer Relationship Manager or contact our sales department by filling out and submitting a form online.

Brown Daub Kia

3600 William Penn Highway, Easton, PA

Rob Lakey, left, and Kyle Arcury, sales managers, with Matthew Dancsecs at Brown Daub Kia.

Rob Lakey, left, and Kyle Arcury, sales managers, with Matthew Dancsecs at Brown Daub Kia.


Dealer principal:  Tom Daub

General manager: Gary Lee Eckley

Brand represented: Kia

How long in business: 20+ years

Number of employees: 50+

Annual unit volume (approximate): 1,940

SC Dealer Relationship Manager: William (Bill) Smith

What makes Brown Daub Kia special:

We are a family-oriented dealership. We offer a unique experience for our guests to be treated like “family.” Guests are given a visitor guide upon arrival to help determine which options work best for their needs and credit situation. Gary Lee Eckley has worked for years to establish himself as “That Family Guy,” which is promoted on various news media and social media outlets.

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DRM comment on what makes this dealership so special:

The staff at Brown Daub Kia is truly a team after one goal – helping every customer that walks into their showroom. They are able to use our program to its fullest extent to ensure customer satisfaction and dealership profitability. What’s most impressive is their processes and paperwork: This store maintains a two-day turnaround in funding, on average, including through our busiest season. Brown Daub Kia is a valued dealer.

How long working with Santander Consumer USA: 15 years

What you like about doing business with Santander Consumer USA:  

Santander offers a unique platform to rehash deals. This is not only a huge time saver, but also helps in finding the right vehicle based on our customer’s needs, all while maximizing profit potential. We also like the flexible credit hours and the availability of the credit buyers and funders to help, not only to make sure we can put a deal together but to make sure the deal sails through the funding process.

Describe your experience with Santander Consumer USA:

We’ve had a lot of experience with customers who maybe had little to no credit. With the program offered by Santander, we’ve been able to open the door for many people who have not had success at other dealerships. We are happy and fortunate to have been partnered with Santander, and look forward to many continued years of this very successful relationship.

– Matthew Dancsecs, General Sales Manager

How your dealership can get more 5-star customer reviews online

Five-star reviews.

They’re not quite as rare as sunken treasure – but almost.

And with most shoppers spending much of their time online researching their next vehicle purchases, good reviews and bad can get around quickly.

Especially with websites such as DealerRater, CarGurus, and even Kelley Blue Book giving new- and used-vehicle shoppers the chance to provide reviews of their experiences.

Would you purchase a car at a dealership rated four stars if another close-by dealership rated five stars?

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“If shoppers like you, they’re going to tell their family and friends,” said DealerRater. “Customers want to talk about you when you do right by them.”

For example:

“Awesome experience! Would highly recommend to another customer looking to buy a new car without a high pressure sales experience,” wrote the customer of a Tulsa, OK, dealership.

That new-car customer gave the dealership five stars overall as well as for customer service, quality of work, friendliness and pricing, pretty much in line with its 4.9-star average rating from 1,139 reviews posted on DealerRater and 4.9 rating from 1,383 reviews on

So how do you try to ensure your dealership gets more five-star reviews?

053118 IL How your dealership can get more 5-star customer reviews online

DealerRater provides at least some of the answers in a report, What makes a five-star dealership review, which is based on an analysis of 1.4 million reviews of dealerships and salespeople that customers wrote last year on and

“We discovered some compelling reasons why customers love dealerships – and we identified the main reasons why customers complain about their experiences,” said DealerRater in the report introduction.

Here are the top five reasons DealerRater said customers leave five-star reviews:

  1. The dealership provides a consistently great experience on the lot and in the service lane.

“Customers call out a great buying experience as the second-most important attribute contributing to a five-star review. But great service overall, including an excellent service department, constitutes the most important factor … influencing positive dealership reviews.”

  1. The dealership’s entire staff acts like customer service professionals.

Positive customer reviews single out people, “especially for being friendly, knowledgeable and helpful … [while] providing a stress-free experience goes a long way.”

  1. The process is painless with speed and ease of service throughout the purchase experience.

“Speed and ease of service are essential … Once customers are at the buying stage on the lot, they’re eager to act. They don’t want to wait around completing paperwork.”

  1. Customers feel like they’re getting a deal – but not necessarily the lowest price.

“Price is definitely a topic [about] which shoppers typically have questions and uncertainty. Taking time to explain a price and why it’s the best deal possible for a shopper … will make the difference.”

  1. Dealerships offer hands-on experiences with vehicles.

“When you offer test drives, you look good … The decision to buy a car may come down to two people shaking hands on a lot, but experiencing the vehicle creates the all-important emotional connection.”

The bottom line, according to the DealerRater report, is that “getting a great customer review comes down to acting like a customer service representative.”

So now that you know about the factors that influence customer reviews, DealerRater suggests, “You can step up your game by treating customer reviews as a process that you manage all year round … Reviews are not a necessary evil. They’re the source of differentiation.”

Working on these areas may make a difference in your reviews and your business.

Why dealers must keep compliance ‘near top of to-do list’

Regulatory compliance for dealers and lenders won’t be going away.

Whatever limits have been imposed on the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), there are sound business reasons to maintain the discipline it brings to automotive sales.

Regulatory compliance still “should be near the top of every dealers’ to-do list,” suggested a report in Auto Remarketing after Congressional approval of legislation overturning the CFPB’s 2013 “guidance” on indirect auto financing that increased oversight of lenders and dealers.

052918 IL Why dealers must keep compliance ‘near top of to-do list’

“If you think changes at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will give dealers a little breathing room, take a deep breath,” the report said. “Then consider this: States are stepping up their scrutiny.”

Santander Consumer USA (SC), one of the nation’s largest non-prime lenders, has cited “a push at all levels of government to regulate auto lenders and dealers more closely.”

Beyond that, SC’s Enterprise Fraud and Dealer Management unit suggests that continued attention to regulatory compliance issues can result in important dealer benefits, including:

  • Improvement in overall customer experience and loyalty
  • Reduction in consumer harm and reputational risk
  • Reduction in credit stipulations
  • Reduction in funding delays to dealerships
  • Reduction in post-funding disputes and potential unwinds

Because “the number of identity theft, fraud and elder-abuse complaints reported to consumer agencies has increased significantly,” SC suggested, failure to remain vigilant can result in increased overhead costs, higher prices to consumers, lower sales volume and lower profits and growth.

“One area of increasing concern has been ancillary products,” reported Auto Finance News (AFN).

“There has been an incremental compression in rate participation margins … and dealers are trying to make up that income in other areas [such as] ancillary products,” Kenneth Rojc, managing partner of the automotive finance group at Nisen & Elliott, told AFN.

Rojc told AFN that “regulators will be more keen on pursuing deceptive practices during the financing process, especially disclosures of service contracts and guaranteed asset protection policies.”

While regulatory compliance presents challenges, “it should not be viewed as an obstacle, but rather an opportunity,” said Michael Sanders, vice president of Enterprise Fraud Management at SC.

“When practiced effectively, regulatory compliance assists in preventing fraud, stopping deceptive practices, and protecting customers,” Sanders observed.

“By embracing a standard of regulatory compliance, we demonstrate our commitment to doing the right thing for our customers,” Sanders said. “This commitment can be a differentiator that sets our company apart from the competition, and builds consumer confidence in the industry as a whole.”

If you have questions or are uncertain how to improve your compliance systems and processes, contact your SC Dealership Relationship Manager, who can guide you to the appropriate resource.

How your customers can uncomplicate monthly payments with MyAccount


Often it’s easier said than done.

But, fortunately, that’s not true anymore when it involves customers making their monthly car payments to Santander Consumer USA (SC).

Our redesigned MyAccount will take customers’ car-payment experience to a new level, including easier navigation, seamless payment options and an enhanced mobile experience.

“Making it easier for our customers to make payments was our priority in redesigning MyAccount,” said Randy Bockenstedt, SC executive vice president of servicing strategy. “Our customers have too many other things going on in their lives to worry about making their car payments.”

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“The website redesign will simplify and significantly enhance the customer experience,” said Wayne Nightengale, SC’s executive vice president of servicing.

“These changes will empower customers to maintain their accounts at a time and in a way that is most convenient for them,” Nightengale said, “providing multiple safe, secure and seamless options to make their monthly payments – and strengthening our brand.”

The upgrade should be apparent from the first time customers log in to and use the new MyAccount.

Easy-to-read dashboard

Customers can get an Account Summary, including Amount Due, Next Payment Due date, Account Balance, Account Maturity date and more on their easy-to-read dashboard.

  • Customers want a Payoff Quote? No problem. They just click on the link on their dashboard.
  • Need to reset a password? Quicker and un-complicated.
  • Transaction History? At customers’ fingertips.
  • Past Statements? Ditto.

If they want to Make a Payment, options are easy through a secure, integrated payment experience. All in one location – like an online marketplace – that’s easy to find and to navigate.

Multiple payment options

And there are payment options to fit customers’ needs.

Pay with checking or savings, use a debit card, pay by text with a checking or savings account. Customers also can pay by phone, mail, Western Union, MoneyGram, CheckFree Pay and PayNearMe.

“One of the things we wanted to improve was our payment experience, and we did,” said Patrick Daly, vice president of digital strategy for Santander Consumer. “Now, online payments are fully integrated into MyAccount, [making] the process more efficient, secure, and easier.”

“Providing a safe and secure mechanism to seamlessly process payments and allow account maintenance strengthens our brand, improves customer loyalty, and enhances our customer interactions,” said Nightengale.

Forgotten password?

Completing the picture, Feedback, Contact Us and FAQs are easy to locate in the simplified navigation bar and to use, and we’ve created a quicker password reset process.

“All of us forget our passwords, resetting them should not be hard,” said Bockenstedt.

Combined, the changes add up to SC’s strengthened commitment to ensuring customers the best possible user experience on the website, which also has been redesigned and was relaunched recently.

“The website redesign reinforces our corporate values of Simple, Personal and Fair,” said Bockenstedt, “simplifying the way in which our customers can manage their accounts online and make payments.”

“We’ve been excited to redesign the site,” said Daly. “It needed a facelift to meet our standards.”

AutoNation Toyota of Winter Park

225 N. Semoran Blvd.
Winter Park, FL

Dealer principal: Jim Bander

General manager: Nick Oliver

Brands represented: Toyota, Scion

How long in business: Since 2003

Number of employees: 230

Annual unit volume (approximate): 7,400

SC Dealer Relationship Manager: Jeremy Gates

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What makes AutoNation Toyota special:

The culture of my store makes it special. Everyone here contributes to the success of the store from the top to the bottom. We take pride in treating our employees right and taking care of them, because we know they will do the same for our customers.

DRM comment on what makes dealership special:

Everyone at this store is welcoming. They address any issues head on and seek a fair and timely resolution. Everyone is always willing to help in any situation, and has a positive vibe to go along with it.

052218 IL Autonation Toyota of Winter Park_Chafik Amrani

Chafik Amrani, AutoNation Toyota

How long working with Santander Consumer USA:

Since the beginning.

What do you like about doing business with Santander Consumer USA?

I really like the flexibility and ease of use of the Extranet. This allows us to make quick decisions and make the buying process easier for our customers. The quick response to submitting an application is also something we like and appreciate. I also like the people I work with at Santander Consumer USA. Everyone is friendly and willing to assist me with any problems that may arise.

One best practice that contributes to your dealership’s success:

We stay on top of any issue or problem from the get go. This practice keeps everyone happy and informed. We also do a lot of training to keep our employees educated on our products and to keep everyone fresh.

Describe your experience with Santander Consumer USA:

We are a store that does 740 cars a month. Our experience with Santander is a positive one with Santander being one of our most-used lenders, certainly No. 1 in subprime loans. I can see our business growing with the new signing of Santander as a preferred lender for AutoNation.

– Chafik Amrani, General Sales Manager

Are you committed to making the most of your sales opportunities?


It’s what you demonstrate every day at the dealership, whether it’s in your showroom, F&I, service area, the back office or any of the thousand-and-one other aspects of your business.

Because success is all about the commitment you make to taking care of details – and your customers. Far be it from you to miss something that might mean more sales and thousands of dollars in revenue.

Or is that exactly what you’re doing every day?

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It is if you’re not exploring all options for financing your customer’s vehicle purchase.

But far be it from Santander Consumer USA (SC) to suggest you give us higher consideration as a preferred, reliable (and valuable) lender for your dealership if we couldn’t back it up.

“I have had the pleasure of dealing with Santander since Teddy Nissan opened the doors,” wrote Julio Batista, general manager of the Bronx, NY, dealership, which began operating nearly a decade ago. “Santander has been a valued partner helping Teddy Nissan grow into one of the most successful Nissan dealerships in the United States.”

Helping your business

There are several reasons SC makes a good partner for dealers such as Teddy Nissan – many of which will be featured in upcoming installments of The Road Ahead in our dealer emails.

But two especially important reasons were highlighted by another dealership sales executive.

“We like the ability to do loans for the full credit spectrum,” wrote Kyle Bacon, general sales manager of Sport Chevrolet in Silver Spring, MD. “[And] the Extranet makes working deals so much faster and more efficient than having to call buyers at other banks. The Extranet also provides the ability to get deals funded faster by uploading any additional information or stips quickly and easily.”

Full-spectrum financing

That’s right, SC isn’t just for subprime deals anymore.

“We are happy and comfortable working with Santander Consumer USA from an approval on almost any customer out there to an easy funding process and access to our rep with the click of a button,” wrote Dave Ivnitsky, finance manager of Kings Nissan in Brooklyn, NY.

“I’ve been taking advantage of Santander Consumer USA’s programs for several years now,” wrote Jack Geier, special finance director for Sam Pack’s Five Star Ford in Lewisville, TX. “I believe SC is a [lender] that I can trust. I’ve watched other lenders come and go, sometimes leaving dealers with contracts hanging, while Santander has remained strong.”

Sweating out the details

Of course, as detail-oriented as you are about your business, SC expects you to have questions. And that’s where our professional, knowledgeable Dealer Relationship Managers come in.

From questions about SC programs to help with your deals, DRMs are part of your SC advantage.

“Our DRM is a great asset,” said Howard Forman, finance director at Sands Chevrolet of Surprise, AZ, “because he has the ability to help us solve some of the more complicated issues that arise – helps to problem-solve and escalate issues to the appropriate party for quick resolution.”

Chances are you won’t have to go looking for your DRM – the DRM probably will find you. But if you don’t hear from us soon, you may contact SC online for quick attention.

How’s that for commitment to your business.

Bringing the heat: Three months that could help your 2018 results shine

Are you ready?

June, July and August typically are three hot months for car sales.

And we’re not just talking temperatures.

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Over the last three years of strong sales, June, July and August failed only once to land among the top six sales months of the year.

And three of the last nine years August has been either the best or second-best month of the year. Only December (6), March (5) and May (3) have equaled or surpassed that performance, based on statistics from the U.S. Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis.

If you include Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends in the mix with the July Fourth holiday, the significance of the summer sales season is even clearer.

So, what can you do to make sure you’re ready?

Our upcoming email series, The Road Ahead, will look at the ways in which Santander Consumer USA’s commitment to its dealers can make the difference between a warm and a hot summer.

Along the way, we’ll show you a lender that is:

  • Committed to helping your dealership succeed this summer and beyond.
  • Confident that our updated program will enable you to make more money.
  • Compelled to do what is best for our dealer-partners’ businesses.
  • Commended by dealerships who already work with us – some of them for many years.

Sales during the first four months of this year were second only to the record-setting year 2016, and dealer optimism is high right now based on a recent Cox Automotive dealer survey.

So now is not the time to leave money on the table by limiting your customer-financing options.

Chances are you won’t have to look very hard for an SC Dealer Relationship Manager (formerly Area Sales Manager). But if you don’t hear from us soon, you may contact SC online for quick attention.

Summer only lasts three months.

Teddy Nissan

3660 Boston Road

Bronx, NY

Dealer principal: Ted Bessen

General manager: Julio Batista

Brands represented: Nissan

How long in business: Nine years

Number of employees: 105

Annual unit volume (approximate): 2,400 new and 1,400 used

SC Dealer Relationship Manager: Stephen Rivelli

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What makes Teddy Nissan special:

Our core values of being positive, friendly, helpful, respectful, professional, enthusiastic and treating our customers as if they are guests in our home. We continually strive to provide every customer with the best customer experience ever.

DRM Stephen Rivelli’s comment on what makes dealership special:

I have been working closely with Julio and his team for the past five years. During that time I have seen his finance managers really embrace our Dealer Extranet. This is a very busy dealership and they find many uses for the Extranet.

One special event the dealership runs every few months is a “midnight madness sale.” Of course, we do not have buyers actively working at those hours, but that does not stop the dealership from rehashing deals and delivering cars.

The finance team there also will use the rehash tool on deals that they might not have been able to put together during the day by going into the Extranet after hours and reworking applications with different units. They will capture a few deals a month by doing this.

They also are big fans of uploading docs to satisfy open stips on deals in funding through our Funding tab, also located on the Extranet. They are able to fund their deals much faster than relying on faxing and emailing stips to our funding department.

How long working with Santander Consumer USA:

Nine years.

What you like about doing business with Santander Consumer USA:

Ease of use. Programs complement our dealership. Professional and helpful demeanor. Extranet availability and usage. Timely funding.

One best practice that contributes to your dealership’s success:

Providing best-in-class service and exceeding customer’s expectations.

Describe your experience with Santander Consumer USA:

I have had the pleasure of dealing with Santander since Teddy Nissan opened the doors. Santander has been a valued partner helping Teddy Nissan grow into one of the most successful Nissan dealerships in the United States, number seven in the nation for January 2018. We owe part of that success to Santander.

Teddy Nissan is able to offer the best customer experience due to Santander Extranet. This technological marvel allows the Teddy Nissan finance department to work deals obtaining instant decisions, also giving us the ability to restructure deals during and after business hours to find the best option for our clients. Teddy Nissan would not be able to offer the best customer experience without Santander as our partner.

– Julio Batista, General Manager

Julio Batista is general manager at Teddy Nissan.

Julio Batista is general manager at Teddy Nissan.

‘Car Buyer Journey’ may offer a route to better store results

050118 IL ‘Car Buyer Journey’ may offer a route to better store results

How well do you know your prospective customers?

Your answer to that question can help determine how successful your business is.

A recent survey, Car Buyer Journey 2018, conducted by IHS Markit and commissioned by Cox Automotive should help steer you in the right direction.

The detailed survey of 2,050 consumers who purchased or leased a vehicle during a recent 12-month period includes findings about:

  • Shopper’s body and mind when beginning the journey.
  • Shopping behavior before visiting a dealership.
  • Point of first contact and buying behavior.
  • How the journey ends for buyers and dealerships.

Each step in the journey provides dealerships with opportunities to boost their business.

State of mind matters

Shoppers overall are spending less time in-market.

But it still takes them almost four months – 108 days to be precise – to make a decision. And that’s about the same amount of time whether they’re buying used or new.

Shopping is driven by buyer need versus want.

Nearly two-thirds of used-vehicle buyers (64 percent) and more than half of new-vehicle buyers (54 percent) are in the market because they need a vehicle. Overall, 61 percent of buyers are shopping out of need while 39 percent are shopping simply out of a desire to purchase another vehicle.

Most car buyers are undecided at the start of the shopping process.

More than six in 10 new-vehicle shoppers don’t know exactly the vehicle they want to purchase, while more than seven in 10 used-vehicle shoppers fit that description.

Many buyers are open to both new and used vehicles.

There is a big difference, though, between new- and used-vehicle buyers, with only 40 percent of the former having considered used vehicles and 55 percent of the latter having thought about new.

COX ADVICE: “Many buyers are open to both new and used vehicles … (and) while car shoppers can be influenced about what to buy and who to buy from, the time to influence and convert them is online, where they spend the majority of their shopping time making decisions.”

Before dealership visit

Buyers want to know the total price of the vehicle.

Transparency matters, including online. About 82 percent of buyers want to know the total price of the vehicle they are considering or the total price along with monthly payments.

Car buyers spend 60 percent of their time online.

Out of 14.5 hours of vehicle shopping, consumers overall spend nearly nine hours online compared to only three hours in the dealership where they ultimately make their purchase. That total is almost 10 hours for used-vehicle shoppers, who spend nearly 15.5 hours shopping.

Third-party websites are the most-used resource for online car shopping.

Nearly eight in 10 shoppers overall (78 percent) use third-party sites, such as Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and CarGurus, while just over half (53 percent) use dealership sites.

Buyers most often start at third-party websites.

New-vehicle buyers most often start their search at a third-party website and end at a dealer website, while used-vehicle buyers often start and end at third-party sites.

COX ADVICE: “Dealers should focus on unique ways to deliver a consistent overall message across all sites. It is also critical that dealership websites are user-friendly, compelling, easy to search across all devices and accurately reflect the pricing, incentives, services and amenities that are offered.”

Clues to buying behavior

“Walking in” remains the most-common initial point of contact with dealers.

Despite all the conversation around online chat, texting capability and social media, only about 7 percent of shoppers make their initial contact with a dealership through those channels. The rest make initial contact by other means: walk in (49 percent), phone (26 percent) and email (17 percent).

Buyers going to dealerships where they have previous experience?

Only about three in 10 shoppers buy or lease from dealerships where they have previous experience, although that figure is higher for new-car buyers (40 percent) than used buyers (27 percent).

Buyers did not purchase from the first dealership visited.

Less than one-quarter (23 percent) of shoppers purchased or leased from the first dealer they visited. But that’s not all bad news for first dealerships as you’ll see below.

COX ADVICE: “Dealers should focus on creating a positive in-store experience for shoppers and use stocking and acquisition tools to get the right inventory for their stores.” Shortfalls in those two areas account for more than half of shoppers not purchasing from the first dealership they visit.

How the journey ends

Buyers are shopping around less and are less satisfied with price.

An increasing percentage of shoppers are visiting one dealership before making their vehicle purchase. The downside is that an increasing percentage also is dissatisfied with the price they pay.

Buyers are least satisfied with long purchase process.

Although overall satisfaction with the dealership experience was 71 percent, less than half of shoppers (46 percent) were OK with how long the process takes, with financing and paperwork the main culprits.

Prior awareness is critical to F&I sales.

Purchase of F&I products is much higher among consumers aware of them before a dealer visit, so dealers should offer educational resources on their websites and provide opportunities for consumers to learn more about F&I on their own during the sales process.


“A simple, pressure-free shopping experience, transparent pricing and a set price or non-negotiable price model can help build customer satisfaction … Dealers should strive to shorten the deal-making purchase process – particularly through streamlining F&I paperwork and negotiations – in order to enhance customer satisfaction and improve loyalty and retention rates.”

Of course, these results are generalizations based on consumer responses to the Cox survey, so your dealership’s results and/or experience may be different.

But the results still provide some useful benchmarks against which you can measure your store.