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Mad Marv

Don’t Be a ‘Dull Boy’

The magazine’s frontline columnist steps away from his usual F&I musing this month and thinks you should do the same. Read on to find out what his secret to longevity in the F&I office is.

December 1, 2011

You know, I’m not always “Mad.” Yes, I’ve been known to rant here and there, but I also know when it’s time to take a step back from the grind. See, I live by and believe in that often-used proverb: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” And I think it’s time you did, too.

I know, I know, we work hard. And at times, we live very stressful lives in what some people like to call “the dungeon.” And yes, we tend to bring some of that baggage home and, sometimes, the day’s events become the topic of discussion during dinner. Heck, sometimes it even invades our dreams. Trust me, I’ve been there.

But for everything we endure, there is an upside. As dealership employees, we have more opportunities to let off steam than your average nine-to-fiver. So, never let yourself get so bogged down that you forget why you come to work every day. In other words, live a little!

Now, tell me if this doesn’t sound familiar: You show up to work on Monday all pumped up. By 5 p.m. you’ve papered six deals, four of which were cash. Not much product moved that day, and nausea begins to set in as you watch your profit per vehicle retailed (PVR) slip into the abyss. Making matters worse, you are notified that two contracts are being returned for corrections. Worse yet, those customers each live 100 miles away and can’t be reached because they’re on vacation. Again, I’ve been there.

Hey, but we’re terrific problem solvers, right? F&I managers can multitask without giving it a second thought. We piece together deals that seemed undoable, but we almost never get any praise for our efforts. Sometimes, we have to take a “TO” in the parking lot as the customer is leaving just to save the deal. It’s not easy, but this is our lot in life, and it’s a fine choice as far as I’m concerned.

In fact, the picture that accompanies this article every month is pretty indicative of my relaxed style away from work. When I lock my door at quitting time, I try to mentally lock away the problems that accompanied my day. Life is too short to live it 24/7. So, when I’m at work, I enjoy slowing down to puff on a Churchill cigar to keep from going bonkers. I also keep a humidor in my office and will visit my local cigar bar just a few blocks away every week to throttle down. Yes, I’m paying a premium for this relaxation, but what good is all the money in the world if you don’t use some of it to relax?

Now, there are countless ways to unwind that don’t involve a fine cigar and an adult beverage. The key here is to find what allows you to relax and decompress mentally. … And then do it!

I know that taking time off is challenging. The dealer and general manager often cringe at the idea. Sometimes they’ll even call you while you’re away. And doesn’t it seem like that call comes right as you’re launching the boat? But don’t pick it up and mentally put yourself back into that environment. That’s what voicemail is for, right? And besides, what exactly do you think you can accomplish being away from the dealership? And if you do pick up the phone, you’ll spend the rest of the day feeling guilty about being away.

So don’t do it. Turn the cell phone off or, at the very least, avoid answering it. And if it’s the mess you know will be waiting for you when you get back that’s keeping you from taking time off, get over it. You earned the time off, so enjoy it.

A personal practice of mine is to mentally subtract my “off days” from the calendar so I’m not worrying about life at Langdale Ford. I want my time off to be enjoyable, and there is simply no way I can do that if I’m fretting about lost revenue. Sure, you’re the best at your position and your support staff likely won’t do as good a job, but that’s part of the price of vacation. In a perfect world, our departments would never skip a beat and PVR would never drop a dime. But that’s fantasy. So start learning to appreciate the finer things of life. Get your calendar out and start planning your next trip. Remember, we work to live. Relaxation awaits!


  1. 1. Richard Horkey [ December 04, 2011 @ 03:25PM ]


  2. 2. Tom Wilson [ December 06, 2011 @ 01:15PM ]

    "Start learning to appreciate the finer things of life." That, in a nutshell, is one of the truest statements I've ever heard. Life passes quickly and is full of stresses, worries and problems just lined up one after the other. Some times you just have to check out and let the world have its way without you. Be a "human being," and not a, "human doing."

  3. 3. klay kelso [ December 06, 2011 @ 06:53PM ]

    Great advice Marv. On the surface a person might read your article and wonder what this has to do with improving themselves professionally. The fact is, taking time off and winding down, compartmentalizing our lives and separating our work and private lives is directly related. I've never returned to work after time off that I didn't make up the time off with improved numbers. There is a lot to be said for clearing out the cobwebs. My Mother even used to say to me, "Son, take time to smell the roses." Good for you for adressing the issue.

  4. 4. Mad Marv [ December 07, 2011 @ 04:11AM ]

    My dad was a Master Carpenter and could do some amazing things with wood. I often marveled at his work and dedication to detail. He worked harder than any man I knew as a kid but when it came time to play he enjoyed himself and rarely spoke about work. We have fond memories of family vacations to quaint places enjoying the outdoors. His work and play ethic were firmly etched upon my mind and I follow that example today. Most of us don't give it a second thought when we walk into our home at day's end reliving the day's problems with our family who has waited all day to see us and are eager to spend quality time. I'm not saying that you refrain from sharing your problems with your spouse, on the contrary-it helps working through it. I'm just suggesting that you number the few hours you spend with family and make the most of it because quality down time is fleeting.

  5. 5. Chris Bonilla [ December 20, 2011 @ 03:44PM ]

    Just booked my wife and I a trip to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl... First Class... ;)

  6. 6. TZ [ January 01, 2012 @ 11:59AM ]

    I'm surprised this is even a conversation. It seems like a cigar bar chat room website. Point being F&I is a way of life for some.. That's why holding the top 5 spot in the company Is hard work and politics. I must say I do like the go out for the TO in the parking lot. Let's just hope CSI is above zone;)

    TZ Tip: if you did not sell at least one service contract a dollar over cost, well then my fellow workaholics the 100% rule did not come into play.

  7. 7. Marv [ January 02, 2012 @ 06:32AM ]

    TZ-You are right. There is a small percentage of people don't have a life outside of work. My article won't affect these people because they rarely relax away from work. The job and the next deal is all they have. The rest of us work hard and play harder. The career is a means to an end namely, it funds my lifestyle. Employers don't have to allow vacations. It's a benefit for both the employee AND the employer.

    Now about that TZ Tip. How does your declaration prove the 100% rule of offering all customers a VSC? There are states like Florida which are barred by law from discounting the VSC below retail. The insurance commissioner doesn't allow it. Then there is the prevailing school of thought that deep discounts diminish the value. I mean if you can hold a dollar over cost why can't you hold $500? It's all a mindset. The customer doesn't know what your cost is and even if they did, it's all about value. No different than a customer drilling the sales department for invoice. The value has to be established somewhere. Granted, there are some customers who want the cheapest price but I never encounter customers who are looking for F&I products at $1 over cost.

  8. 8. Allen Geissler [ January 02, 2012 @ 03:26PM ]

    To quote my G.M. " yea?... now get back in the box"..

  9. 9. JPMEYERS [ January 17, 2012 @ 11:13AM ]

    In my nearly 30 years of AutoMania (and 15 in the dungeon) I have never had it put to me better! Thanks Max! My next sabbatical will ditch the Iphone!

  10. 10. JIM MELLEON [ March 28, 2012 @ 09:47AM ]

    Well said Marv. I use to come to to work on my day off to help out because i felt guilty, but no one cared or thanked me and then i got throat cancer after spending two months at home and going thru chemo and radiation .I now take my time coming to me. " you only live once" enjoy your time with friends and family.

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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

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