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Guest opinion: F&I awareness opportunity for dealers via social networking

Dealers have the opportunity to make their mark and claim as yet practically unchartered cyber territory by using social media and blogging to raise awareness of F&I, according to Simon Ryan (pictured), managing director of Social Advisors, a digital marketing agency which focuses on the financial sector.

Ryan will show how dealers can take the highly regulated F&I arena and use it to harness website traffic whilst providing consumers with much-needed knowledge about funding and insurance products available for car buyers and motorists when he speaks at AM and Auto Trader’s Digital Marketing Conference which takes place on February 12, at Birmingham’s NEC.

Internet searches for F&I products far outstrip those for new car purchases, a snapshot of figures from Google’s keyword data planner (relating to one day in November 14) reveals a staggering 40,500 searches for ‘car insurance’; the same figure for ‘car finance’; and ‘car loan’ netted 8,100 searches, compared to just 1,000 who looked for ‘buying a new car’ and 1,300 who searched ‘car dealer’.

Admittedly, the searches for dealers are more likely to be specific to franchise and location and possibly even model which would have skewed those results, however, the evidence is indisputable: consumers are looking for information on vehicle finance and insurance in their thousands on a daily basis.

Ryan said: “The statistics speak for themselves: consumers are hungry for information on car funding and insurance products which provides an area ripe to capitalise for forward-thinking dealers.

"Many dealers are reluctant to tweet, post on Facebook and even blog about F&I for fear of falling foul of strict Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulations, but the rules are fairly simple if you are not inviting a person to purchase.

“Effectively, if you are imparting information, you are not subject to the same degree of scrutiny and detail which would have to be provided when you are promoting a particular finance offer.

"You still have to be accurate and mindful that you do not inadvertently slip into a sales patter which could be construed as an inducement to buy, but overall, providing consumers with the facts and thereby making the information they need to make an independent yet informed decision more accessible exactly meets FCA requirements.

“Unfortunately, the fear factor has seeped in to many a consciousness and it has become easier to simply ignore the detail surrounding F&I with most dealers sticking to the rigid structure of an offer thereby safeguarding against the likelihood of something being amiss. Conversely, this has created a massive gap in cyber space with a distinct lack of F&I information. Dealers with foresight and creativity combined with a good working knowledge of FCA regulations and expectations can stake a claim. By so doing, they stand a good chance of featuring in the high number of consumer searches as car buyers try and find the information they need to make a decision about funding their vehicle.”

Ryan will be working with Robin Luscombe, managing director of Luscombe Motors which incorporates the Suzuki and Mitsubishi franchises in Leeds as well as a substantial used car business, in the run-up to the conference to illustrate how dealers can drive high quality traffic to their websites via the F&I route. At the conference, Ryan will present examples and results from the two-month campaign he is now running in conjunction with the dealership group.

Tickets are available to dealers and manufacturers, with a limited number of supplier tickets on sale. To book, please contact Emma-Louise Kinnaird on 01733 395133, email or visit

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