Wednesday, 13 May 2020 18:51

3 Ways to Make Sure Your F&I Office is Ready (and Safe) for Customers During the COVID-19 Recovery

Written by Kristine Cain, CBT Automotive Network


Millions of people nationwide have likely had anything BUT buying a car on their mind for the last two months, but as states start to ease restrictions on car sales, dealership showrooms will become busier, lots will have traffic again and inventory will slowly start to move.

F&I departments will come to life as well. Many dealers have moved the entire process online to help keep enough sales flowing to keep the lights on, but back end grosses are taking an enormous hit. For many customers, there is no real substitute for a face-to-face sales experience, no matter how much some have grown to hate it.


But how much trust will your customers have that your store is ready with appropriate health measures to protect everyone?


What are some of the ways you can help buyers feel safe coming into the F&I office? What steps can your take to keep yourself AND your buyer safe and give them the trust they need that your store is taking COVID-19 seriously?


If you haven’t thought about it, you better think about it now.


Here are a few ways your store can get the F&I office and staff ready so everyone is confident that health and safety are your top priority---even over profit.


Setting Up Your Office 


Hopefully your dealership has already put safety measures in place for the lot, service lanes and showroom. The F&I office is unique. it is generally the smallest office in the dealership and a bit cramped, even in the most modern of stores. Here’s where things can get tricky with COVID-19 guidelines.


Consider reducing the number of chairs in your office. Bring one signer in at a time to help ensure social distancing. Order pens in individual sealed packaging so the buyer is only using something they have touched. Or suggest they use their own.


Take all brochures or binders off the desk. No toys or items meant for kids to play with. Keep your desk as clear as you can. Disinfect it before and after each buyer comes in and keep chairs a few feet back from the desk if space allows. Digital menus or docuPADs should be cleaned after each buyer. Hand sanitizer on the desk at all times and no handshakes.


And it should not need to be said but I will anyway---wear a face covering. You may not want to but your customers will likely be wearing one and it is the preventative measure that can help the most.


Some measures retailers are taking, like plexiglass shields, may be difficult to use in this part of the dealership, but it’s worth considering. With diligence and care, both you and your buyers will be able to execute their paperwork in as safe a fashion as possible. None of it is easy or familiar but it’s all critically important now.

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