Opinion: The F&I Difference for Your Dealership

A headshot of Walt Burns, RV brand manager at Apco Holdings' EasyCare.

Every RV dealer deserves the best possible service from F&I service providers and administrators. Inflation and rising interest rates’ headwinds continue to exert downward pressure on pricing and margins. Now more than ever, dealers need the 1-2 punch of an expert training & development provider backed by an administrator with a deep familiarity with the industry and customers’ needs.

This “Dream Team” can help F&I team members do what is right to protect the owners’ enjoyment of their RV investment and protect business profitability to offset the pain of declining front-end profit margins.

The best service providers working today employ a consultative, hands-on approach. This approach includes working with the F&I team on presentations, objection handling and financing to put together the deal that is right for the customer and the dealer.

How do you know if you have a Dream Team working on your side? Consider the following attributes.

In the trenches experience. The best providers out there know what they are talking about because they have been there. They have held general manager, finance director and sales manager positions. They have lived and breathed the culture and process that are necessary to help sales and finance teams achieve success. Their experience means they know when and what products to package for each customer and how to present them properly, so the customer understands the why behind the program. This expertise level is crucial to raising revenue.

Lender expertise. The sharpest providers know the ins and outs of the 10 biggest lenders in the RV market. They know which lender will offer the largest advance and which will generate the biggest reserve, and they are always updated on changing terms and conditions. They use this knowledge to help finance teams build the road to a sale. They employ a hands-on, personal development approach to help team members get better every day. This approach generates more revenue and leads to better employee retention because team members are empowered to do their jobs well.

Prioritize partnership. The ability to partner with dealers in their success is key to the best results. All providers need to be focused on dealership development and goals. It is crucial to track production at the end of each month, especially since RV dealers see great monthly sales variability. F&I offerings can help by producing returning revenue streams at low acquisition costs. A robust F&I product set can increase average gross revenue per sale when marketed and presented properly. A provider who is a partner will support dealers in all business aspects to add significant revenue, especially during the lean months.

Lifetime advocates. The best providers are just as committed as their dealers’ partners to turning new RV owners into lifetime advocates. A few years ago, Go RVing published a study showing that one in five new consumers entering the RV lifestyle left within a year of buying their RV. The main driver for their departure was lack of service. A provider’s ability to help F&I teams present products, such as extended service contracts and roadside assistance coverage, can help owners enjoy their RVs and embrace the RV lifestyle. At the same time, these products help produce returning revenue streams.

Industry experts predict we are going to continue to face headwinds than we have seen over the past few years. The 1-2 punch of an expert F&I service provider working with a proven administrator can dramatically impact a dealership’s overall health by generating more revenue at the sale and over the customer’s lifetime.

Walt Burns, RV Brand Manager for EasyCare, an Apco Holdings brand, has over 30 years of experience helping dealers be more profitable in every aspect of their business. Burns’ primary focus is consulting with RV dealers throughout the country to assist them in driving performance for their businesses and enhancing CSI.

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