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Transforming F&I Digital Retail: The Complete Guide to Virtual F&I

By Mark Geletka | Apr 29, 2024

Last updated on May 10, 2024

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As all areas of the automotive industry move toward using more technology, your finance and insurance department should also optimize processes to meet modern consumers who are looking for more efficiency and transparency while purchasing their vehicles. Introducing virtual finance and insurance, a process that utilizes technology to enhance the F&I office and improve sales, into your car buying operations can benefit dealership staff and customers, allowing for a more pleasant purchasing experience for everyone.

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What is Virtual F&I?

Virtual F&I is a seamless, customer-focused way for dealerships to support digital retail in the finance department, creating a personalized, compliant approach to F&I and car buying.

How Virtual F&I Works

F&I becomes “virtual” when a customer and F&I manager are in different locations. Virtual F&I adapts the in-store process to a digital experience while retaining the human touch and interactive components of communication in selling. In this model, the customer will talk to a finance manager via a video call, during which the manager will present the menu of products, determine a customer’s wants and needs and use those insights to guide the customer to F&I products that will support the protection of their new vehicle.

The virtual aspect saves time for the finance manager and customer and enhances sales by bridging the gap between the physical and digital world, all while protecting profitability, increasing CSI and boosting efficiency. Having both traditional F&I and Virtual F&I at your dealership creates an omnichannel sales process that helps your team to comprehensively meet customers with varying needs.

Omnichannel Approach

Source: Cox Automotive

With a Virtual F&I process, your customer journey map doesn’t change much from the in-store experience. The finance manager can assess what protection products the customer may need through the interview process, then help guide them through any reservations or questions about products. The customer will then review all selected products before finalizing their purchase, so they can feel confident the products they are purchasing benefit their needs and preferences.

Benefits of Virtual F&I

Transforming your digital retail lineup with Virtual F&I (VFI) presents an array of benefits, significantly enhancing the car buying experience for both dealers and consumers alike.

Graphic-Consumer vs Dealer Benefits

Benefits for Dealers:

Increased F&I Revenue:

One of the most pronounced benefits of adopting VFI is the opportunity for growth in F&I revenue per vehicle sold. The transition to digital allows dealerships to streamline their operations and offer products to consumers in a more efficient and accessible manner, which in turn can boost revenue by ensuring buyers feel in control of the process and educated on all available options, thereby also improving customer satisfaction.

Operational Efficiency:

VFI enhances operational performance by allowing F&I managers to conduct meetings and transactions through video conferences, reducing the need for physical paperwork and making the process faster. This efficiency not only saves time but also enables dealers to handle a higher volume of sales with the same or fewer resources.

Broader Market Reach Without Staffing Limitations:

By offering VFI, dealerships are not limited by staffing or proximity. If a Finance Manager calls out sick, there’s no associated backlog at the dealership since an agent will always be on hand to service customers virtually. Dealers can also reach a wider audience beyond their immediate market, expanding their customer base, which could translate into higher sales volumes.

Customer Data Insights:

The digital nature of VFI allows dealers to gather, analyze and utilize consumer data more effectively, such as what products have higher penetration and where sales may be dipping and could be better positioned. This can lead to more personalized and appealing offers for customers, improved targeting in sales efforts and a better understanding of consumer behavior.

Competitive Advantage:

In a marketplace where consumers increasingly prefer digital interactions, offering VFI can set a dealership apart from competitors who have not yet shifted to this modern approach. Being an early adopter can establish a dealership as a leader in innovation and a business that sees customer satisfaction as a top goal.

Benefits for Consumers:


VFI offers unparalleled convenience to consumers, who can go through the entire car buying process from the comfort of their own home. This is particularly beneficial in scenarios where consumers might be hesitant or unable to visit a dealership in person, whether due to time constraints, distance or personal preference.


Digital platforms can provide consumers with more transparent and accessible information about F&I products. This helps them to make more informed decisions without the pressure often felt in a traditional dealership setting, reducing the likelihood of cancellations and increasing customer satisfaction.


The use of digital tools allows consumers to easily compare different F&I options, customizing packages to fit their needs and budget. Giving customers the flexibility and control to select their options creates the personalized buying model modern buyers prefer.


With VFI, customers no longer need to wait in the store for a finance manager to finish with another customer, significantly reducing the time they spend buying a vehicle. And with digital tools to further streamline the process, going from menu presentation to decision to purchase is quicker and more efficient.

Better Overall Experience:

Consumers who engage with digital channels like Virtual F&I for auto purchasing tend to report a more positive overall experience, and they prefer to do business with dealerships that prioritize flexibility, efficiency and empowerment.

Virtual F&I represents a win-win for both dealers and consumers. For dealers, it offers a means to increase customer satisfaction and establish new channels to profitability. For consumers, it delivers more freedom and flexibility when they engage with the finance office and review products before purchasing.

There are many more benefits to Virtual F&I sales in the dealership. From creating a new way to interact with the customer, to enabling a more unified dealership approach to selling, digital retailing solutions like VFI can be an opportunity for business growth.

Discover the Future of F&I: Schedule Your Virtual F&I Demo Today

Virtual F&I Models: On-Demand and Centralized

The flexibility of Virtual F&I lies in two main models that dealers can utilize: on-demand and centralized. Both options provide seamless and integrated approaches that benefit dealers and consumers. Dealers are able to pick the Virtual F&I model that best suits their business goals and needs.

Virtual f&i models-1

On-Demand Virtual F&I consists of an F&I specialist delivering deals virtually as a representative of your dealership. As the name implies, this person will be ready to service your customers on an as-needed basis. This model is ideal for instances when a salesperson has completed their portion of the deal, but an F&I Manager isn't available at the store. Customers no longer need to wait in the office for the next available team member, instead, they can be immediately set up with personnel who will virtually present menu options to them.

Centralized Virtual F&I
consists of taking operations in-house and enabling your F&I managers at one store to support other stores remotely or establishing a central Virtual F&I office out of a single location. In this model, multiple rooftops can be serviced simultaneously with the support of your team. This approach minimizes wait times and is ideal for growing dealership groups looking to close deals more efficiently.

Best Practices for Virtual F&I Implementation

Integrating new strategies into your dealership may seem cumbersome or stressful, especially when it comes to training staff on how to operate a new process. A well-balanced Virtual F&I process, however, will effectively merge into your current tech stack so that your team is motivated to make utilization part of their everyday sales plan. Below, you can find ways to unify VFI into your dealership’s core operations.

Since VFI is a process, not a separate technology, you can pair it with most combinations of tech stacks if your DMS and menu tool allow for it. Perks like remote control capabilities, E-signing, and compatibility with displaying in various formats enhance flexibility and success in the F&I process. All it requires is internet access and a device with the ability to join a video call. Customers who prefer not to use video are still able to utilize VFI by engaging with their camera off.

Depending on the model that you choose, on-demand or centralized Virtual F&I, the user experience will ultimately be top-of-mind. This process thrives on transparency and ease-of-use for your customers while keeping with regulatory requirements.

Finding the Right Manager for Success

Implementing a VFI model at your store will require a few adjustments to your core process. A positive commitment to change, proactive communication across your team, and accountability to the process from your employees will help ease the transition. A dedicated Virtual F&I provider like JM&A Group will have a team ready to work hand in hand with your dealership staff to share details, learning lessons, and pro tips along the way.

Two personality traits that can help you identify a high potential VFI Manager to lead your efforts are:

  1. An open mindset and a willingness to explore new ways of tackling the F&I process
    A person who is willing and eager to own the change to a new process and who takes mental ownership is key. Someone who is adaptable and motivated will find VFI to be a useful tool to add to their sales strategy.
  2. Strong communication skills that transfer from engaging with employees to customers
    Things inevitably change when you’re not face-to-face with a customer – you can't point with your hands and need to rely on increased verbal communication. Find someone who can adeptly and confidently lead customers through the product selection process using helpful language.

With a strong F&I partner and team ready to help you begin a new process, you can identify the talent to help incorporate Virtual F&I into your systems and daily sales process.

F&I Digital Retailing Compliance: Virtual F&I Provides Peace of Mind

Advanced technology creates opportunities for enhancing your dealership’s efficiencies, and with that comes the need for compliance. Whether it’s protecting your dealership’s reputation or your customer’s private information, dealers need to ensure that the F&I process they are using follows all local and federal laws as well as industry regulations and standards, ensuring legal and ethical operations.

A Virtual F&I process can still be conducted even if your state still requires wet signatures on a few forms. Dealers can go through a virtual affirmation process, conduct the interview, showcase the menu presentation and sell products while electronically capturing signatures where permitted. Then when the physical delivery takes place, whether it is in your showroom, or at the customer's home or office, you will have the opportunity to capture the wet signatures. When making at-home deliveries, it is important to remember to consult your legal counsel to ensure your process is compliant with your local regulations.

For out-of-state deliveries or completely virtual purchases, VFI ensures your customers are still getting the proper F&I menu presentation that you would conduct had they been in the dealership, enabling your finance managers to meet this segment of your customers in their buying journey. It also enables customers to do their own research and play an informed role in the transaction.

JM&A Group Tip

Think of Virtual F&I as an opportunity for efficiency gains. The more you can streamline and digitize the process to reduce time for your clients and team, the more people will be encouraged and eager to utilize it. To help with this, we recommend:

  • Setting up your DMS to automate forms for signatures to help expedite the paperwork in the deal and eliminate human error.
  • Using eSignatures to help avoid missed signatures and other small common paperwork mistakes.

Measuring Performance of Virtual F&I

Because Virtual F&I relies on technology, there are several ways that key performance indicators (KPIs) can measure return on investment (ROI) so that your dealership can notice how VFI is impacting sales and customer retention. Below are some strategic areas that can be measured:

  • Efficiency: The average customer wait time and transaction completion time in the finance office.
    • Ask yourself: Does VFI make the finance experience faster? How does it compare with the sales to finance wait time and time spent in the finance manager’s office using traditional F&I? Do you see more deals signed in a month and thus more profitability?
  • Product Penetration: Measuring the percentage of deals in which a particular F&I product is sold, such as service contracts, GAP and prepaid maintenance.
    • Ask yourself: Has our product penetration rate improved since adding VFI to our process? Is there a specific product that sees a higher percentage of sales with VFI over traditional F&I methods?
  • Per Vehicle Retail (PVR): Offering both traditional and virtual finance and insurance methods creates more opportunities for profitability. Dealerships have seen an increase in PVR when utilizing VFI.
    • Ask yourself: When utilizing both traditional and Virtual F&I, has there been an increase in overall PVR? How is PVR impacted with Virtual F&I deals as compared to traditional F&I?
  • Surveys: Assess consumer sentiment with post-purchase surveys.
    • Ask yourself: Do my customers report finding the VFI process to be seamless and easy-to-use? Do they find themselves comfortable in this setting? In what ways can I make the office setup more inviting to reach those hesitant to talk over video?

Virtual F&I Training

Initial and ongoing Virtual F&I training is necessary when adding this solution to your digital retail platform. Your sales staff and F&I team should be educated on the proper uses of VFI and how to cohesively move customers from one department to another, especially if the finance office is busy and unable to help your customer in a prompt manner.

An F&I partner like JM&A Group will come into your dealership and provide hands-on and thorough training so that your team feels eager and prepared to succeed, confident to meet consumers in the process and ready to answer any questions or reservations that may arise. They will be equipped to effectively use this modern method to sell F&I products in a way that is shown to increase customer satisfaction and lessen pressure in the buying process.*

Virtual F&I is the Experience Car Buyers Prefer


*Study of JM&A Group dealers

Why Virtual F&I is the Future of Automotive Retail

The automotive industry will only become more technologically advanced in the future. With modern customers wanting to spend less time in the dealership and being more informed through online research before they enter the dealership, it is crucial for dealers to have processes in place to strategically meet their customers in the car buying process.

You can provide the same customized, personal experience for your customers online as you would in-store in the finance department by transforming your digital retail lineup. Virtual F&I provides that seamless and transparent method that customers desire, while helping automotive personnel save time in the sales experience.

With an experienced and engaged Virtual F&I partner that supports your dealership’s unique goals, your team can incorporate a modern process that emphasizes customer satisfaction and employee efficiency while promoting opportunities for growth.

While JM&A Group can assist you with setting up a virtual F&I process, JM&A cannot provide legal advice regarding state-specific regulatory requirements relating to the online selling process. Please consult your dealer counsel and dealer association for information on your state’s regulatory requirements.


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