Preloaded Ancillary Bundles Benefit More than Just F&I
A lot has been written here about how preloading ancillaries can have a positive effect on F&I profits, penetration, and CSI…if done well right from the start. Transparency and reasonable pricing remain the most critical elements of making these products ‘stick’ at the time of sale.
But what if there was a broader benefit to more than just the F&I department? Are we thinking too narrow about the impact of a well-constructed preload package?
Let’s take a closer look at the other departments at the dealership that can enjoy advantages from preloading ancillaries:
This should come as no surprise to anyone. If a dealership is preloading PPM, key replacement, and lifetime limited powertrain on every vehicle (new or used), the most obvious benefit is from a marketing perspective and increase in lot traffic.
Highlighting these adds throughout all marketing channels sends the message to all local (and these days, maybe not so local) car shoppers that your units offer a step above other dealer offerings in the area. If the Ford store on the other side of town is not offering those protections upfront and making their customers go through the F&I department to purchase them for potentially more money, suddenly your store looks like the better place to buy.
Preloaded ancillaries that customers really want quickly become the ‘Why Buy Here’ value proposition your store needs to set it apart in the market. And in an increasingly digital retail environment, you’ll have more online inquiries when shoppers can see that a car or truck from your store offers more protections without having to navigate F&I to add them.
Beside the increase in lot traffic, your sales staff should see an increase in sales overall. With the packages clearly disclosed as an addendum to the Monroney and priced reasonably, there should be little pushback if explained properly by the sales staff. Training them up on the coverage specifics of each product and make sure they understand the best practices to overcome objections (because there’s always a handful of customers that will balk at additions to the price).
As many ancillaries will force customers to come back to your dealership for claims/repair/replacement, the final benefit will be from potential future sales opportunities. Coming back to your store for anything having to do with the products that were preloaded gives them a chance to be back on the lot and that can mean another car catching their eye for a new sale.
If they are waiting in the service lane for their pre-paid oil change, their salesperson can come say hello and let them know that new models are coming soon or they can follow up on whether or not they still need a car for their son going off to college. Having the customer coming back to the lot gives sales another touchpoint that they otherwise may not have.
Preloaded ancillary packages that included PPM, lifetime powertrain warranty, as well as other appearance protections will make the service department very happy. These programs require the buyer to bring the car back to your dealership for repair/replacement and that adds to the service bottom line.
How? When a customer comes in for their first oil change, it gives the service advisors the opportunity to upsell to other important maintenance services. Now the oil change leads to a tire rotation which could then lead to a new set of brake pads if they have put a lot of miles on the car. Simply having the customers come back to you gives the service department those extra openings for other service profits in the future.
After the preloaded PPM has been used, the customer is more likely to continue to come back for future service and repair after having such a great experience with your team. Remember the ‘sticky’ relationship that can be formed in sales with preloaded ancillary bundles? It works the same for your service lane.
You can’t forget the parts department when it comes to the benefit of preloaded bundles. If your bundle includes key replacement, for example, this becomes a win-win for parts as well.
Your customer who redeems their free key fob replacement may suddenly see that there is a special in part for upgraded heavy duty floor mats or a bike rack that can be installed on top of their new SUV. It’s all about getting them to simply come in and give the parts staff a chance to offer aftermarket accessories that the customers may not even realize if available directly through their dealer.
Same with tire & wheel claims…the parts department can upsell to a better tire or another set of sweet rims that the customer wasn’t aware was available for their new car. It all starts with a great customer experience and opportunities to stay in front of the customers using a more ‘soft-sell’ approach.
One Final Note
Preloading ancillary bundles is an easy way to add extra profits to the bottom line of F&I without adding to the menu presentation process. It allows for a faster F&I experience with more emphasis being placed on selling the higher margins products like VSC and GAP. F&I simply has more time to focus on what matters most to them and to help streamline deals for a better CSI.
But beyond that, preloading can help all three primary profit centers within the dealership and add something special to the car shopper’s experience along the way. Your dealership will be known in the market as the one that offers the customer the most upfront protection for the best price.
Presenting any aftermarket products and protection in F&I is already tough enough but when you are trying to help keep a preloaded ancillary package in the deal, it can be a real headache. Buyers don’t always see the value of a well-priced package designed to help save their vehicle from cosmetic issues.
Customers are giving up trying to find the car they want and are putting in orders knowing it will take time for them to arrive. How does a dealer better compete with others in the market for that order? Offer something special with every order YOUR store fulfills.