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Mad Marv

The Overlooked Asset

October 4, 2010

You may not realize it, but one of the best F&I training resources visits your dealership every month. You know him (or her) as the financial services rep employed by the insurance company underwriting your back-end products. His visit usually involves a review of your previous month’s results, which he compares with your forecast and uses to coach you to excellence.

You may not recognize the value this individual regularly brings to the table, but you can rest assured he is one of your greatest cheerleaders. His goal is to help you succeed in every category. One of his prime objectives is to understand the dynamics of your dealership and how they affect your productivity.

I spend a fair amount of time in contact with F&I managers across the country on the F&I Forum or via e-mail and phone. I often see the need for more real-world training, but I understand that not every dealer is willing to spring for a week’s worth of training without a back-up person in his or her F&I office. Your dealership’s financial services rep may be the solution to this very dilemma. The question is: why do his talents go ignored?

I suppose the answer could lie in the fact that we tend to assume that no one can possibly understand our daily struggle with botched turnovers, missing data, cash customers and poor credit. Or maybe it’s the fact that these reps are out of touch; after all, they only visit us once a month, always carrying a briefcase full of reports.

How often do we busy ourselves with other things when the rep arrives? Listen, I get it. Sometimes these reps can be more of a nuisance than an asset. A typical visit can often end in a round of golf with the dealer, which usually results in a call questioning your progress based on the rep’s assessment. When that happens, it’s easy to want to ignore the rep’s counsel the next time he or she makes it out to your store.

What you may not realize is that this person has years, if not decades, of experience behind the desk doing exactly what you do every day. Remember, these people are usually chosen by their employer because they have proven skills. So, don’t make the mistake of discounting their advice. Open your ears and your mind to what they have to say.

No one knows all the secrets to getting every deal approved or how to coax customers into signing on the dotted line. We’re just trying to do the best we can with every customer we encounter. However, in the course of that struggle, there are times we miss crucial details and end up kicking ourselves after the fact. For this reason alone, yielding to a trainer’s advice is paramount.

Consider for a moment that the rep is a conduit of information, sharing tidbits of knowledge he or she has picked up along the way. Every F&I manager has something special going on or has brainstormed a winning close on a difficult customer. Wouldn’t it be great to have more sources of knowledge from which to pull? There is no way you can tap into all the talent out there; however, your rep comes in contact with fresh ideas daily and shares those ideas with people just like yourself.

Remember, everyone wants you to succeed — the dealer, the general manager, the sales managers and the salespeople. That’s because we all survive off each others’ efforts. With that said, here are a few suggestions to maximize your rep’s next visit:

■ Make a list of problem areas where you need help and can solicit the rep’s advice.

■ Record difficult closes and how you fared, then discuss those customer interactions with your rep.

■ Have your rep sit in on a few closes during his or her next visit, and be sure to listen to his or her critique.

■ Instead of asking how bad business is, inquire about success stories at other dealerships.

■ Invite your rep to a sales meeting to speak about the features of a product you offer.

■ Role play with your rep in areas of difficulty.

■ Introduce him to your service writers and managers, and promote his visits as a positive experience to alleviate any misgivings they may have about any of your F&I products.

Remember, an apple that remains green continues to grow and stays attached to the tree, whereas the ripe one falls to the ground and soon rots. In short, stay green and keep getting better by soliciting the help of others, including your financial services rep. 

Comments

  1. 1. Klay Kelso [ October 07, 2010 @ 02:16PM ]

    Hey Marv;

    Love the article. I think I'll print this up as a handout for the dealerships I train at. Most of the F&I Managers I work with are genuinely interested in getting better at their craft, but some are just waiting for me to get finished talking so they can go back to just being average. Hopefully your endorsment of what we do will help. Thanks

    Klay Kelso THE PLATEAU GROUP

  2. 2. Marv Eleazer [ October 07, 2010 @ 09:46PM ]

    Thank you so much.

    I suppose your comment is about as meaningful as any I've received on any of my articles Klay. I strive every month to dig deep and bring to the surface the plight of everyone that embraces this great profession we enjoy as our calling. Our reward goes far beyond the money. For all the difficulties we endure the greatest pleasure is the enrichment of the people we all touch regardless of our position whether it be trainer, producer or dealer. As I've previously said, no one knows it all. Therefore, refusing the positive input of others is a sign of self willed pride and a refusal to improve. It's a crying shame that sub-par people are allowed to continue practicing this great profession especially in light of the fact that customers demand the best of us yet dealers allow it every day. I suppose the reason they do is that they either don't understand the importance of their F&I departments or they simply don't care. Either way, it's incumbent upon them to heed these words. Dealers should demand more of their staff.

  3. 3. Loree Shell [ October 13, 2010 @ 07:55AM ]

    Love it! I have a hard time with some dealers remembering I had 9 years in the chair before i took THIS job, so I understand their pain and the issues they face every single day. Now that i am a warranty rep/f&i trainer, it is usually easier when they figure out I am there FOR them, and am never against them in any way.

    Loree Shell

    VP Business Development

    National F&I Sales Trainer

    NASC USA

  4. 4. Robert W Linkonis Sr [ October 26, 2010 @ 08:40AM ]

    Marv - I know the name of the particular individual that you are writing about. I have also worked with him for years (and hopefully many more with my new venture). Every account rep reading this article should try to create "raving fans" of the personnel of their dealer clients. F&I Managers should tap all of the knowledge possible from their account reps. Even when you know that reps from two banks are outside your office, waiting in line to see you - make them wait (they're just trying to sell you anyway). Try to make the most from the monthly visit from your service provider account rep. There is where the real value is.

  5. 5. Richard Shelton [ November 03, 2010 @ 05:28PM ]

    Even when your numbers are awesome and you rank among the best.

    You have to continue to grow...

    I like the analogy about that apple staying green...

    No matter how good you think you are... You can always get better.

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Author Bio

Marv Eleazer

Finance Director

Marv is no insider. He’s an actual F&I manager with more than 20 years of experience. Get his from-the-trenches take on the industry every month at fi-magazine.com.

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