You’re in a dealership, waiting for a Finance Manager to get your paperwork ready. What could possibly be taking so long? You peer around, trying to figure out where this person is and why he hasn’t helped you quite yet. You see offices, fancy cubicles, official-looking people who look like they could be the Finance Manager. Your salesman seems to have lingered off. He told you it’d be just a few minutes, but you can’t help but wonder why you get the feeling he’s out back smoking right now. You’re in no man’s land: that time between shaking your salesperson’s hand and signing on the dotted line with your Finance Manager.
Agree to a deal? Get ready to meet your Finance Manager. Once your salesman walks back into the office and says “Sold,” your deal is then “loaded” into their internal system. Basic info like name, address, driver’s license number, insurance information and so on, are included. After that, a deal folder is created and handed over to the Finance Manager. This process itself doesn’t usually take long. A deal can typically be loaded in under five minutes. If you’re lucky and it isn’t busy, you’ll see the Finance Manager fairly quickly. If it’s a busy day, you may have a few deals in front of you to wait through.
Your Finance Manager, The Secretary
Before you meet your Finance Manager, he’ll take a few minutes to review your deal. What you bought and how you bought it will help determine what additional products and services he’ll want to tell you about. The Finance Manager will also verify basics like the VIN number, your name, the rate, and so on. Any errors at this point will later turn into “heat,” which means he’d need to chase you down later to have you re-sign any corrected forms. Nope, no one wants heat.
Your Finance Manager, The Pusher
Why does the Finance Manager try to sell you additional products? Good question. I’ve often thought the salesman (the person you already likely have a relationship with) should present any additional options, but that’s often not the case. In fact, this hasn’t been the case at any dealership I’ve worked. I suppose it’s because the dealer believes once you agreed to a “deal,” it’s best to present additional options right at the point of signature. This leaves you with little time to weigh (or reject) these options. The Finance Manager can print up a contract with paint and fabric protection in a matter of seconds, if you agree. Once you sign, there’s a strong sense of finality, and you won’t likely change your mind.
Also, consider that many customers feel more relaxed at this point in the process, because the hard work of negotiating is behind them. With this higher sense of relaxation (as long as it hasn’t turned to agitation from a long wait), your excitement level grows.
You’re making a big purchase. If someone asks if you want to “protect your investment,” you’d logically say “Of course.” This is why you’ll often hear Finance Managers talk in terms of “protecting your investment” – with alarms, fabric protection, extended warranties, GAP insurance… the list goes on. It’s easy to imagine:
A Finance Manager says, “Congratulations! I see you purchased a VW Jetta. You’ve made a wise decision. Looks like they also gave you a great deal. Do you plan on driving this car for a while?
Your reply, of course, is “Yes.”
“Wise move – and you picked the right car to do it. I’d like to tell you what happened when…”
And you can see how it goes from there. A smart Finance Manager will use your own good intentions to build a case around what they think is a wiser move. They may present these to you in different ways: maybe as a menu of options or “packages.” If you financed or leased, you’ll see that they present these options in terms of monthly payments.
If for instance, say you already agreed to $468 a month on a 72-month loan, in steps the Finance Manager with the following proposition. “Your car only comes with a 3-year warranty. How about I offer you a special end of month deal on a 7-year warranty? Your new payment would only be $488.” Seems like a good idea when presented by your Finance Manager, right? But what if it was presented to you as $1,440 extra. Would you still think it’s a good idea? It’s much easier to say yes to a few dollars more per month than thousands of dollars on a purchase price. Not to worry, though. In discussing the selling price of the warranty, you can bet your Finance Manager will offer examples where a customer’s service bill well exceeded $1,440, making that warranty price seem well worth it.
As you can see, the Finance Manager is a salesman at heart. Not only that, the finance office must make tough decisions you weren’t expecting. Often, these decisions can seem easier than they really are. I’m not saying that buying an extended warranty is a bad idea. The good idea is to think about these things ahead of time. Be prepared with the questions you want answered.
After all, that’s your role as a shopper.