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The Good Humor Gal

November 2012, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Stephanie Forshee

Dina Wilson knows a thing or two about selling F&I products, and not just because she’s the 2012 recipient of the Innovative Aftermarket Systems-sponsored F&Idol contest. A career saleswoman who spent 20 years selling industrial scales to the auto industry, Wilson says each sale comes down to one thing: “If people don’t like me, they’re not going to trust me.”

She builds that trust with direct eye contact and a well-rehearsed pitch that mixes in a few jokes as she reviews the factory warranty and the features of her service contract. That’s what the contest’s eight judges saw when they awarded her the highest score out of this year’s five category winners, giving her top marks for objection handling and flow.

“I have a knack for getting people to feel comfortable,” says Wilson, who walked away with a total cash prize of $3,500 after winning the contest’s service-contract category and the overall award. “A lot of people come into my office, and they know what’s going to happen. So, the key is to not let them become so uptight.”

Small-Town Approach

Wilson lives in the relatively small community of Cumberland, Md., a sliver of a town situated in the southern section of the Appalachian Mountains. That means Wilson and her F&I team have very little room for error, as not a lot goes unnoticed in a town that claims a population of 21,518.

“I don’t want to have to hide when I go to the grocery store,” Wilson says. “That’s the philosophy of the owners of our company, to walk around town with our heads held high and know we haven’t disrespected anyone.”

Wilson serves as F&I director for three of Timbrook Automotive’s five dealerships. Most of those stores are located on Cumberland’s Motor City Drive. Wilson spends her days in the box at the group’s used-car outlet, where the average credit score is 582. But her customers are more than just credit scores; they’re people Wilson sees regularly. “I go to church and see people who I know have bad credit, and they know I’m not going to say anything,” she says, noting that jobs are scarce since many large employers have left town over the years.

That’s why even the group’s new-car stores employ the same process Wilson uses for the credit-challenged clientele at her used-car lot. Producers are trained to never act like they’re above their customers. The goal is to simply make them feel comfortable.

“That 500 score deserves the same respect as that 800 score walking in, and I think that’s what has helped us along the way, just treating people very nicely,” she says. “They may already feel like the scum of the earth, but we make sure they don’t feel that way when they reach our office.”

Wilson, who averages two products per deal, doesn’t personally subscribe to the customer interview, but she does train her F&I producers on the practice. She says she doesn’t do the interview because she can get what she needs by looking at the customers’ trade-in and credit report.

What she does preach is meeting and greeting customers in the showroom. It helps her find common ground with buyers, she says. More importantly, it makes her customers feel more at ease.

“We don’t make it scripted or drill the customer. We keep it conversational,” she explains. “You may go off on a tangent about something you have in common, but while you’re doing that, you’re finding out how long they keep their vehicle, how many miles a year they drive, details for titling purposes and insurance information.”

Comment

  1. 1. paul smith [ May 21, 2013 @ 02:53PM ]

    i have read so many life stories of f&i managers and directors that are happy with a 1000-1200 pvr average. at my store the minimun average our f&i producers is at 1600 and our top f&i producer does 2300-2500 pvr. with only an avg of 450-500 in reserve. i have always believed that this expectation was way too high but after being pushed by management to believe it can be obtained month in and month out all 5 of our f&i agents are hitting at least 1500 pvr. can anyone tell me is this a regional thing we are in california? or does mid wes and east coast have same avgs?

  2. 2. paul smith [ May 21, 2013 @ 03:16PM ]

    i have read so many life stories of f&i managers and directors that are happy with a 1000-1200 pvr average. at my store the minimun average our f&i producers is at 1600 and our top f&i producer does 2300-2500 pvr. with only an avg of 450-500 in reserve. i have always believed that this expectation was way too high but after being pushed by management to believe it can be obtained month in and month out all 5 of our f&i agents are hitting at least 1500 pvr. can anyone tell me is this a regional thing we are in california? or does mid wes and east coast have same avgs?

  3. 3. $Bill [ August 06, 2013 @ 11:57AM ]

    Your obviously a super-star

  4. 4. Conservative finance guy [ August 21, 2013 @ 07:19AM ]

    My store runs 2500 PUR and 1900 PUT in Indiana. Everything counts and no DNQ here. We average 3.9 product a copy Paul, not just a regional thing

  5. 5. John Ward [ September 16, 2013 @ 09:05AM ]

    Every store is going to have a variance on averages, such as how the deals are desked in the Sales Office, etc...
    As a Director, I work in the sales office and every sales desk. My structure sets us up for an ave of $1800 as a dept and sometimes as high as $2550. It all starts with everybody working together to get it done!

  6. 6. Jim [ September 19, 2013 @ 09:15PM ]

    I have serious reservations, about claims of 2k+/copy AND maintaining proper levels of compliance. A lot of the PRU, is going to be dependent upon finance penetrations. I've worked markets, where 50% finance was a VERY good month. And I've worked some small stores, with 20 car/m volume, and 3-5 of those would be $500 and under back row beauties. God isnt going to do $1500 copy when 10 finance deals and 5 of the other 10 absolutely ineligible for anything.

    Anyway, color me jaded. I don't buy 2k+ and fully compliant. And there is no such thing as mostly compliant. THAT, by definition, is non-compliant.

  7. 7. Wayne [ September 24, 2013 @ 10:22PM ]

    Right on Jim!
    ,

  8. 8. reggie [ November 19, 2013 @ 11:58AM ]

    It really does have so much to do with how it's desked IMHO. We have a finance manager who was consistently higher than her fellow f&i'ers before moving to our dealership. Her penetration is now higher in her previous catergories which she sold a lot of and yet her overall average has went down. Now the people she was consistently higher than are higher than her. No doc fee, no front end loaded etch, etc. Makes a big difference. I also agree that having a higher than $2000 avg is throwing up red compliance flags...... and that's coming from a guy who is at 1500 for the record. Of course, reserves where I'm at are not very high typically. So it's not apples to apples comparing one avg to the next either.

 

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