Even with a tried-and-true sales process, it’s inevitable that you’ll still get customers who turn down a vehicle service contract in the finance office. But if you’ve listened to your buyer’s concerns, you can frame your response in a way that shows just how beneficial a protection plan can be for someone in their shoes
Proficient F&I managers know how to address a buyer’s decision, get to the root of their objection, and offer a solution. Their secret? Be prepared before the conversation even starts. We’ve compiled the four most common customer objections and the best way to respond to each to help you steer the sale.
1. “I can’t afford it.”
If a customer’s primary concern is the price, you could have a clear path to a sale. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is. The reality is, they may not be able to afford NOT buying the contract. If the slight bump in the monthly payment to account for vehicle coverage isn’t in reach, your buyers may be on a tight monthly budget that could easily be thrown by unexpected repairs or a total loss.
Be prepared to educate your customers during the buying process so they’re aware of what the cost of ownership can add up to beyond a monthly payment. It’s not uncommon for an auto repair bill to add up to $500 or $600 — and 1 in 3 drivers can’t pay it without incurring debt. Your customer may be stretching to meet the payment figure they’ve given you as a target. Now factor in the cost of an unexpected repair into that formula. Is there room to pay for that on top of all their other expenses? In most cases, the answer is no. With this knowledge on hand, it should help justify a few extra dollars each month to have a service contract on a vehicle.
Keep claims paid from the previous month on hand. Use that figure to ask if that dollar amount on top of a monthly car payment is something they can absorb. Then compare it to the much smaller monthly increase from a service contract. Take into account that these large repair bills are often charged to credit cards that accrue interest, and your customer will quickly see the cost savings associated with the slightly higher monthly payment.
2. “I’ve got a guy.”
Sometimes, when all else fails, a customer will resort to an objection that seems unbeatable: they know a mechanic who can help with repairs.
But just because a customer thinks they have the inside track to affordable repairs doesn’t mean there isn’t value in having a vehicle service contract. In fact, with mechanical breakdowns, the fix itself is just a fraction of the overall financial burden. A personal relationship with a mechanic is not always good enough to save a great deal of money.
When a vehicle component breaks down, it’s not just the labor that a service contract covers. Even if your customer’s friend will help alleviate some of that burden, will that connection also help with parts? Most likely, buying the part – even at cost – will fall to your customer in the event of a breakdown. Sharing some past repair orders can show just how expensive these parts can be.
If your customer’s mechanic is a friend working out of their garage or a mechanic that doesn’t carry an ASE certification, it could impact them down the road. If they were to sell their car, they might need to verify the quality of the work done over time. If a licensed and reputable mechanic didn’t perform that work, it could negatively impact resale value.
And don’t forget that mechanical breakdowns don’t happen at convenient times and they don’t discriminate based on where you are when a component decides to fail. A service contract could cover expenses like towing and substitute transportation while the car is in the shop—and it could also help with lodging and meals if a breakdown occurs while the customer is out of town. Even if your customer’s mechanic is a longtime friend, it’s unlikely they’d spring for all these expenses.
3. “My last contract didn’t cover anything.”
When a customer declines coverage because they had a service contract before and they didn’t get the value they expected, a few simple yes or no questions can get you over the hump.
Often, customers don’t fully understand what their vehicle service contract covers when they drive off the lot. When it comes time to file a claim, they may be left feeling like they wasted their money on a product that didn’t help them in their time of need. A few pointed questions can help you explain service contract coverage more clearly than the dealer that came before you.
Do you know what kind of coverage you had? Sometimes a customer might not even know what they purchased. All they claim to know is that they thought a repair would be covered, and it wasn’t. If the answer is yes, ask for details. Eventually, you’ll get to an opportunity to clarify an advantage of the coverage you’re offering. If the answer is no, take this opportunity to clearly illustrate why you feel the coverage you’re offering is superior. Highlighting specialty components, roadside assistance, towing, or other benefits can do the trick.
Do you know the quality of the coverage you purchased? Even if the customer knows what kind of coverage they had in the past and what company they bought it from, they may not have realized the different options available. If the answer is yes, showcase a comparable coverage level that you offer while highlighting all that it is missing compared to a higher level of coverage that you can provide. If the answer is no, you have an open door for a traditional menu sell. Work backward from the best option you have to offer, highlighting the coverage that drops off as you move along. Finish by providing two or three options, none of which is to decline coverage entirely, and asking for the sale.
4. “I’ll risk it.”
Before you start overcoming this objection, it’s important to understand what it truly means. In reality, the customer in this scenario is expressing doubt that they’ll ever need to call their service contract into action. The first step in getting past this mentality is getting the customer to admit it.
Start by repeating what they’ve said—that they’ll never actually use the contract. Once your buyers have confirmed that this is how they feel, you have your window to outline just how expensive even a single repair can be.
Place your product brochure side by side with a piece of paper and start walking through the costs just one day in the shop can accrue. Breaking each expense out one by one is an effective way to showcase how little-known repair costs can pile up. As you call out these expenses, point out where they are covered in your service contract to demonstrate what the customer stands to gain.
Here are some examples of standard costs to call out:
- Labor. If a repair takes four hours, things are already off to a pricey start at today’s average labor rate.
- Parts. Even on smaller repairs, part costs can get expensive. Pay attention to past paid claims to understand these costs. You can also account for shipping if the part had to be sourced from another location.
- Transportation. A full day in the shop can lead to the need for a rental car—another cost that can add to the financial burden.
- Towing. If the vehicle’s failure required a tow to a nearby facility, your customer could be looking at $100 or more.
- Trip Interruption. Not all vehicle failures happen close to home. If your customer is on vacation, the price of hotels and meals, even for just one night, could be over $200.
When you’re done, highlight the total of all these costs combined and compare it to the cost of the vehicle service contract. Be sure to mention that these costs are associated with just one day in the shop. If a repair requires multiple days, this total number is likely to skyrocket even higher.
Now that you have a game plan, the next best step is to run through these scenarios with a colleague who isn’t afraid to put up a challenge. Learning how to execute the close, even in the face of objection, means more F&I profits for your dealership and, more importantly, a worry-free driving experience for your customers.