CDK: Wait to enter F&I office vexes Gen Z

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Members of Generation Z ranked waiting on the finance and insurance office among their top complaints with auto dealerships, and this delay can significantly color their perspective on the business, a CDK Global study released this summer found.

All four generations of the 2021 vehicle buyers and lessees polled by CDK ranked either waiting for a salesperson (Generations X and Z) or waiting by themselves (baby boomers and millennials) as among their top three frustrations with dealerships. But Gen Z put waiting for F&I on that list as well at No. 3, with 38 percent of the young shoppers citing it as an issue.

The study surveyed more than 1,100 people combined across the four generations.

Brendan Dougherty, CDK director of modern retail, told Automotive News a wait of more than 30 minutes for the F&I office produced a “huge, huge change” in the net promoter score the Gen Z consumers gave the dealer. The metric measures the likelihood of a customer recommending the dealership experience.

Gen Z, defined as those born after 1996, was overall the least likely of the four demographics to recommend their dealership experience, awarding a net promoter score of 32.

The Gen Z shoppers who had to wait more than 30 minutes for F&I — and 61 percent did, according to Dougherty — gave dealerships a score of just 3.4, he said.

But dealerships that got those 18- to 26-year-old consumers into the F&I office in a half-hour or less received a score of 41 from the shoppers, he said.

When these Gen Z shoppers reach those retail professionals, the young consumers might prove a receptive audience. Daugherty said nothing in the study indicated the length of time spent in the F&I office to be an issue; Gen Z only took exception with the wait to enter it.

CDK’s study of more than 1,100 shoppers of all ages found that 81 percent of the Gen Z subjects were interested in understanding all their options at a dealership. This represented the highest proportion among the four generations to prefer that depth to the alternative of wrapping up the deal as quickly as possible once the vehicle is selected.

CDK also learned Generation Z was more likely than millennials, Generation X or baby boomers to want an expert’s guidance on their purchase.

Dougherty said CDK noticed Gen Z “wanted to take their time, but they didn’t want to waste their time.” They were overwhelmed by the options available and wanted an “advocate” to guide them, he said.

“That very much rang through,” he said.

Dougherty said Gen Z’s desire for thoroughness but hatred of waiting raised a Catch-22.

“The more time you spend with them in the F&I box, you’re just causing further wait for somebody else,” he said.

A dealership would need to find ways to make the wait “efficient” and “engaging,” Dougherty said. This could include giving the customer brochures or allowing them to browse products, he said. A retailer could also engage the waiting Gen Z shopper by having them complete paperwork, he said.

“They don’t mind being put to work,” Dougherty said.