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True Calling

June 2013, F&I and Showroom - Cover Story

by Paul Chavez


The trajectory of an up-and-down career that included running a catalog business, fixing locks and selling commercial trucks skyrocketed for Tim Lavoie about five years ago. That’s when he moved into the F&I ­department.

Lavoie, now 42, was selling trucks for the Balise Auto Group — one of the largest retailers of new and used vehicles in New England — when the finance manager at his store was let go. That’s when he was offered a chance to learn the ins and outs of the finance ­department.

“I had zero formal training, so I had to teach myself and trust my instincts,” Lavoie says. “I had formal training after a few months and many of the things I thought were obvious were not really obvious.”

On-the-Job Training

Lavoie parlayed his opportunity to become the finance director for the entire group, which operates 19 stores in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The quick study now conducts his own monthly F&I training sessions that focus on the best word-tracks to close deals, effective menu presentation and a review of products offered. His sessions typically end with the “close of the month,” which Lavoie uses to both teach and recognize his producers.

But not every lesson is about how to close customers. A recent session, in fact, focused on how associates should replace their opinions with facts. Phrases such as “I think,” “In my opinion,” and “If I were you,” should be jettisoned, he says, because they can create a confrontational scenario with customers. In Lavoie’s experience, it’s better to let customers know they can do whatever they want, but show them the reports that lead to the producer’s product recommendation.

“Stop with that. It makes no sense. Less opinion and more data and fact,” he tells his producers.

So far, his techniques appear to be working.

Lavoie was promoted to finance director at the beginning of 2011. The auto group’s finance managers were averaging a hair less than one product sold per vehicle. They now sell about 1.5 products per vehicle. “That’s a 50 percent increase in the past two years in back-end product penetration,” Lavoie says proudly.

Comment

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  2. 2. John Sullivan President F [ July 05, 2013 @ 09:10AM ]

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  3. 3. John Sullivan President F [ July 05, 2013 @ 09:10AM ]

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  4. 4. John Sullivan President F [ July 05, 2013 @ 09:11AM ]

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