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F&I Dealer of the Year

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F&I Pacesetters

April 2007, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Editorial Staff

When it comes to serving the customer, the community and staying compliant, these six dealers set the pace for the industry in 2006.

The Pacesetter from the West does so much for his community that he was nicknamed after the city in which his dealerships are located.

The Southwest Pacesetter has always been known as an overachiever, and the same holds true when it comes to how he operates his dealerships.

The Pacesetter in the South has used his influence in the industry to support minority-owned dealerships, and he was instrumental in establishing the General Motors Minority Dealers Association.

This year’s field also includes a Pacesetter whose Southeast dealership is so confident in the way it handles the subprime business that it has been using a customer satisfaction index (CSI) for the last seven years. Today, the dealership’s CSI registers at over 94 percent.

The Midwest Pacesetter cares so much for his community that he uses his dealership’s advertisements to warn drivers against drunk driving and road rage, as well as advocating the use of seat belts.

Out of the Northeast, the Pacesetter there works diligently to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to compliance and the latest industry innovations.

As diverse as this year’s field is, all the Pacesetters have one thing in common: The commitment and resolve to do it the right way. Each will admit to their imperfections, but say they continually strive to raise the bar for regulatory compliance and ethical practices within their respective communities.

Come Sunday, Feb. 4 (the second day of the National Automobile Dealers Association show), one will be chosen as this year's Dealer of the Year — not for the profits generated, but for the work done to improve the image of the automotive financing industry.

WEST

Tuttle-Click Automotive

Irvine, California

With dealerships in both California and Arizona, Jim Click and Bob Tuttle’s contributions to the communities in which they do business are well chronicled, such as the $1 million in annual donations they make to various organizations. In fact, Click is often referred to as “Mr. Tucson” for the work he’s done in that city. For the two owners of the Irvine, Calif.-based Tuttle-Click Automotive Group, their involvement in the communities they serve is all about carrying on the legacy of Holmes Tuttle, who founded the business in the 1920s.

Both Click and Tuttle, the founder’s son, have earned countless accolades for the performance of their dealerships, including the prestigious Ford President’s Award. Their success, Tuttle says, lies in their desire to take care of their customers, and to do the things others won’t. He says it’s about treating customers like family — something the company’s founder made sure to instill.

“Innovation has come through technology, but everyone can buy technology,” he says. “It’s really about the people, the training, the enthusiasm and the treatment someone gets when buying a car.”

Click prides himself on the compliance policies his dealerships have in place. Each customer signs a pledge, which ensures that he or she is aware of his or her rights. In addition, every deal is audited to ensure no signature is missed and every figure matches. Compliance training is conducted monthly. And recently, the business began requiring every F&I, sales and general manger to be AFIP-Certified.

“If properly trained, you’ll do a good job of presenting and selling the products,” Click says. “And that’s a big part of the dealership’s income. It doesn’t do any good to not sell in the proper fashion or to not dot your i’s and cross your t’s. In the end, it’s just good business — if you’re going to do it, then do it right.”

SOUTHWEST

ABC Nissan

Phoenix, Arizona

If the present can be used as an indicator of the past, Jay Carley, Jr., executive manager of ABC Nissan in Phoenix, Ariz., was that overachiever in school that set the pace for everyone else. Always ahead of the curve with industry trends, it didn’t take Carley long to jump into e-contracting, and to incorporate today’s leading innovations.

With his business averaging 150 to 200 e-contracts per month, around 40 percent of its total deals, Carley believes e-contracting is not just the future, it’s the present. ABC went the way of e-contracting only nine months ago, and Carley said he already sees the positive impact it has had on his dealership, such as improving cash flow and inventory management.

“I think it’s a mindset,” he said. “When we started, we had only three or four deals a month. That’s when we realized that it wasn’t just about e-contracting, it was about a way of life for our operation. Once we understood and committed to that, we went from three or four contracts a month to 100 or 200.”

Carley said his dealership’s goal is to get transactions down to an hour using e-contracting — an achievement ABC Nissan is quickly closing in on. The dealership is currently averaging one hour and 15 minutes per transaction.

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