In today’s right-click, left-click world, F&I should kick in early, says trainer Ron Reahard.

Noting most car buyers use the Internet to shop and research, he says, “F&I has to engage early.” That means having a strong presence on a dealership website.

“List your financial sources,” he says of lenders with connections to dealers. “If you have 11 of them, you should be proud of that.

“List your F&I products. If people want more information about them, they should be able to click for it. Provide links that give them their credit scores. The more customers know, the more comfortable they are. The more comfortable they are, the more likely they are to buy.”

Good F&I managers serve as dealership back-stops, verifying credit information, making sure deals are do-able and getting involved to ensure “people are getting the cars they want and can afford,” Reahard says at this year’s F&I Industry Summit.

He adds bad F&I managers make best-rate promises and engage in activities such as payment packing, a discredited practice of sneaking F&I products into monthly car loans.

Today, payment packing is illegal. But it’s not entirely eradicated, Reahard says. “Some people tell me they do it. I say, ‘Are you spinning back odometers, too?’”

sfinlay@wardsauto.com