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Reorganizing the Desk

The desk can be critical to a dealership’s success, but overstepping its boundaries can leave a store vulnerable. The magazine’s F&I pro draws a line in the sand.

October 2011, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Ronald J. Reahard - Also by this author

There is an ugly trend taking hold at many dealerships today. The sales desk is being tasked with many of the duties and functions that have traditionally been the responsibility of the F&I department. The list includes taking credit applications, pulling credit bureaus, submitting deals to lenders, and quoting payments and interest rates.

In such cases, F&I is a separate department in name only. And unless the customer has terrible credit, the desk basically handles the entire process while the finance office is relegated to simply preparing the paperwork and presenting the customer with additional products to purchase.

Paper Pusher vs. F&I Manager

Is this what’s happening at your dealership? If you’re not sure, consider the following questions:

1. Who takes the credit application and obtains the credit bureau report?

2. Who reviews the app with the customer prior to submission?

3. Who decides which lender to submit the deal to, and who actually submits the deal to the lender?

4. Who determines the interest rate, down payment and maximum advance?

5. Who decides whether the customer matches the vehicle, and who decides whether or not to deliver the unit?

If you answered “the desk” to a majority of those questions, then you no longer have an F&I department. What you have is a secretarial service for the sales department. All you’re doing is typing up the finance terms the sales department negotiated.

F&I managers are there to help customers attain the car they want at terms they can afford. Removing the “finance” function from the F&I department reduces it to mere product pushers. Worse yet, if the F&I manager is not reviewing the credit application and credit bureau with the customer prior to submitting a deal to a lender, the customer will not perceive him or her as having any role in the credit process — and they’d be right.

The biggest problem, however, is that there is no way for the F&I manager to attain the necessary information he or she needs to make a needs-based product presentation. And if an F&I manager doesn’t get the customer’s story regarding information contained in the credit app or the bureau, the F&I sales process becomes nothing more than a series of generic product pitches. 

Comment

  1. 1. John Warren [ October 12, 2011 @ 07:37AM ]

    I think this article is extremely dated and narrow in its point of view. There are so many factors that go into how a store is structured; the customer base, the sales people's talents, and the ethics of the store's employees, and the competitive forces in both lending and auto sales in that dealers market all have much more to do with profitability and compliance effectiveness than the nature of the relationship of responsibility between F&I and the sales desk.

    The reality is if you don't have a solid desk manager that can analyze the strength and weakness for F&I profit early in a deal there will be no deal for F&I to work.

  2. 2. mike Ryan [ October 18, 2011 @ 11:43AM ]

    Your article is right on the money. During my 35+ years I have told many a sales manager that I am not his secretary. My employment contract says I work directly for the dealer only and I will have his support for a100% PROPER T.O. See the dealer if you have a problem with this or I will!

  3. 3. Matt Payne [ November 23, 2011 @ 07:36AM ]

    I believe your article has some valid points. I also believe there need to be team work between the desk, sale, and f&i. We must communicate, and the f&i people cant set back at there desk waiting for someone to bring them the next deal. We need to get off are butts and get involved as early as we can. I have been in f&i for 17 years, but first and foremost im a car salesman and proud of it. I believe ther are alot of us that have forgot that. Remember if we do not move inventory, we cant sell product, there is no need for fixed opps. So the bottom line is "cant we all get along" . Communicate have and sell, sell,sell. We are all on the same team. Thanks for your time. (Matt Payne) the creditcowboy!!!

 

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