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Objecting to the Menu

This month’s submission hails from Camille King, an F&I manager at Northwest Honda in Bellingham, Wash. She has a customer who trades in his vehicle for the latest model every one or two years. He has never shown any interest in the products on her menu. In fact, he usually asks her to skip the presentation altogether.

King says her customer’s objection to the presentation doesn’t stop her from following her process. She just wants to know if there’s a way to get the customer to at least consider adding some products. This type of objection pops up often in the F&I office, even for seasoned pros. But there is a solution. It’s called the reverse-menu technique.   Let me show you how it’s done.

Objection: “I’m trading in my 2013 Honda Fit, and I’d like to put the $13,000 I have in equity toward the purchase of a 2015 model (valued at $19,000). That means I would only owe the dealership a balance of $6,600, and I’m not interested in paying any more for that extra stuff.”

Tony’s Take: Let’s start with all the equity the customer has in his trade, because even with really high resale values, he is in jeopardy of losing a considerable amount of that equity should he suffer a total loss in the first couple of years. This is where we can use a version of my GAP cash-conversion technique, which I covered in’s F&I Tip of the Week (July 3, 2014).

The Pitch: Throw a softball to get him talking about securing his equity: “Mr. Customer, it is great that you have so much equity that you can put it toward a new vehicle today. However, in the event of a total loss, especially in the first six to 18 months, that equity could be at a substantial risk. If you can risk losing it, that’s fine. However, there are alternatives if you’d like to protect it.”

If the customer wants to know more, explain that you can cut a check for that equity amount today and he can finance more money on the vehicle and stretch out the term. Then, after 18 months, the customer can use his equity to make a substantial payment and reduce his principal.

Prioritize Products: Now let’s look at your product order on the menu. If the customer trades out his vehicle every two years, explain that a service contract might be a nice option should he decide to keep the vehicle for more than two to three years. Be sure to explain all the benefits.

In this scenario, the service contract should be removed from the other columns on the menu. Your focus will be on selling ancillary products if he objects to the VSC. Explain how those protections will help the customer maintain his vehicle and possibly increase its resale value when he is ready to trade it in two years later.

The Reverse-Menu Technique: Now, if the customer reacts negatively to your menu presentation, pull out your accept/decline form. List all the products he’s declining. Clearly illustrate the protection and security he is foregoing, what the consequences are and how he won’t be adding to his monthly payment because he’s declining those products.

Here’s How to Do It: “This form shows the additional products that you are going to forfeit or decline today. You are not purchasing a service contract. Here’s what the product would cover if the vehicle should break down after the manufacturer’s limited warranty expires. Because you’re declining the protection, you’ll be 100% responsible for any and all repairs once the manufacturer’s limited warranty expires. This will not add $35 to your payment.”

You will be surprised how often a customer will want to know more about the product. In some cases, the customer will even comment on how inexpensive it is. This is especially true on a road hazard policy. So the next time that customer tells you not to waste your time presenting your menu, try the reverse-menu technique and watch his reaction.

Tony Dupaquier serves as director of training for F&I University, a division of American Financial and Automotive Services Inc. If you’d like his help on a troublesome objection, email him at


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