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Mad Marv

Who Needs ‘Em?

December 1, 2010

For better or worse, the F&I office and salespeople are forever interconnected. It’s not a marriage made in heaven, but it’s a necessary one — especially on the finance side. Salespeople don’t need us to sell cars, but we cannot produce without them.

Now, we all take pride in our roles in the sales process. We know that, if it wasn’t for us, the deal wouldn’t go down as a delivery. Heck, I’ve been so prideful as to think of myself as the quarterback and that everything rides on my shoulders. Boy, was I wrong.

Unfortunately, the word “teamwork” isn’t typically associated with the high-flying egocentricity of everyday life in a car dealership. And like you, my ego has been a stumbling block for more than a few salespeople over the years. Admitting this and being willing to do something about it are the first steps toward becoming more valuable to the sales team. Remember, we can all learn a thing or two from each other, but we must be willing to harness our egos first.

We Deliver

Consider for a few moments the role we all play in the delivery of a car. The salesperson meets, greets and presents the vehicle. The sales manager oversees the sales process and the F&I staffers tie up the loose ends. Great concept on paper, but mishandling just one of these steps can spell death for any deal.

Even if some roles in the sales process are more important than others, it’s not a one-man show. It takes the effort of the entire staff to complete a delivery. I have come to think of F&I managers as running backs, not quarterbacks. The play is set up to move the car out the door, but we can’t carry the ball without blockers. The better the process is followed, the better our chances for success.

And just think of all the obstacles we face today. Aside from negative equity issues, no cash investment and customer resistance to what we have to offer, there are the daily doom-and-gloom reminders about the economy from the media. It all adds up to an amazing amount of stress we have to deal with on a daily basis. Toss in our egos and it gets messy.

We Take Payment

As I’ve said before, salespeople don’t wake up every morning bent on wrecking your day. Remember, their main objective is to deliver a car, so the manner in which a customer pays for that vehicle is, in most cases, of no concern to them. They have families to feed and bills to pay.

What I’m getting at is, don’t complicate the situation by adding unnecessary stress to their lives just to prove your point.  

Listen, it’s no secret that a salesperson’s anxiety level jumps every time he or she entrusts a customer with you. Can you blame the salesperson after he or she has invested hours or days to get a commitment from the customer? Remember, F&I is typically the final step, so, naturally, they want it to go smoothly. That’s why it’s your job to project credibility, professionalism and expertise.

We Stood in Their Shoes

Now, I’m not saying that you and your sales staff have to become lifelong buddies. But you should, at the very least, respect them and their plight. Hey, it wasn’t so long ago that you were in their shoes. And I’m sure you can recall by name the F&I managers who made life difficult for you.

I remember the day I was promoted from sales to F&I manager. I vowed I would work with the sales team better than the person I was replacing. I also remember how quickly my perception of salespeople changed when the newness of the job wore off. It was as if they were incapable of moving from one step to the next without me babysitting them.

So, my challenge to you is to bring back that excitement you once had for your position and to return to a role of support and problem solver. Look, salespeople need our help in putting deals together more than ever before. So, let’s show them we’re up to the task, put away our egos and deliver excellence!

Marv Eleazer is the finance manager at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. He can be reached at marv.eleazer@bobit.com.

Comments

  1. 1. Klay Kelso [ December 15, 2010 @ 05:20PM ]

    What a great subject to address. I think all of us that came off the sales force and move into finance say we'll treat sales people better than we remember being treated. In spite of that from time to time we need to be reminded of exactly what you said, "Hey, it wasn't so long ago that you were in their shoes." That kind of sums it up.

  2. 2. Allen [ January 11, 2011 @ 08:02AM ]

    Great Topic Marv. Thats one of the reasons that I think that every F&I should have spent time on the sales floor.

  3. 3. Russell [ January 13, 2011 @ 08:58AM ]

    I still the remember the days when I had to stock the car in, sell it, get it approved for finance and clean it. The joys of working in a small town dealership.

    <a href="http://www.autobulk.com">:)</a>

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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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