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Finding Greatness in the Box

F&I professionals who stop swinging for the fences and focus on base hits stand to gain the confidence of their customers and the per-copy average that comes with it.

March 2018, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Lloyd Trushel

Babe Ruth was a professional baseball player for 22 years. During his career, the “Sultan of Swat” faced opposing pitchers 8,400 times and was feared as a force to be reckoned with because of his ability to hit home runs. That said, over 91% of the time, he didn’t actually hit a home run.

Babe Ruth’s greatness actually occurred through runs batted in (RBIs). He only hit 714 home runs (an 8.5% success rate), but he was responsible for producing 2,213 RBIs — which wouldn’t have been possible without the base hits his teammates produced.

"Focusing on producing base hits might not feed my ego, but it will feed the success of the whole team. A base hit mentality doesn’t mean we never hit homers, but it does mean that we will be willing to take a walk or lay down a sacrifice bunt if it helps our team."

Take Barry Bonds. He hit more home runs than Babe Ruth but never won a World Series. The difference wasn’t personal ability. It was the ability of Babe Ruth’s teammates to produce base hits consistently.

In the box, we must strive for consistency. We get 60 to 70 at-bats a month and we typically don’t rotate through eight other players before we’re up again. I see a lot of F&I managers focused on the instant gratification and short-term goal of hitting a “home run.” That might feel exciting, but the bigger accomplishment is being consistent.

See, I believe in approaching every customer with short and long-term goals in mind, because the importance of reducing future risks like chargebacks and poor CSI cannot be ignored.

For instance, if I run a very high per-copy average but have a low penetration rate, you can bet I’m a home run hitter. You can be certain I’ll also have lots of “strikeouts,” a.k.a. chargebacks. My customers refinance, they cancel products, they refuse products in the future, and, if they feel taken advantage of, they never come back. This is not a formula for long-term success.

Focusing on producing base hits might not feed my ego, but it will feed the success of the whole team. A base hit mentality doesn’t mean we never hit homers, but it does mean that we will be willing to take a walk or lay down a sacrifice bunt if it helps our team.

See, in every transaction, the very first decision the customer makes is whether or not the salesperson can be trusted. By adopting a “win-win” attitude and standard pricing models, as well as striving to create loan structures that are intelligent for the customer, we show that our intent is focused on them. This allows customers to relax, consider the benefits, and trust you enough to say “Yes.”

Sure, I could ask for $3,000 over on a VSC every time, but a more intelligent method would be to adopt pricing habits based on the culture of my dealership and keep my pricing fair. If I find that I’m apprehensive to disclose the price of a product I’m selling, then it becomes obvious I’m only looking for a home run.

Trying to bury your customer actually lowers your chance of success. Like it or not, your eye movement, body language, and vocal tone will betray you, and the customer will subconsciously begin the process of telling you “No.”

It is of paramount importance to operate in harmony with your values. That means creating an offer for your customer that is fair. This may represent selling every product you have, but with a spirit of fairness in mind. You can always adjust your pricing to align with your goals, but consistency is the key. Build your menu around fair pricing and keep it consistent. If you need higher profits, raise your margins, but maintain consistency in product pricing.

Remember that our long-term goal is consistent income with low chargebacks and high CSI, and we share this goal with our customers and the dealership.

Lloyd Trushel is a key member of a group of associated companies and undertakings that include Consator Group, F&IQ, CAP Warranty, First Choice Warranty, Intelibuy and others. He previously served as an F&I trainer and account manager for Assurant. Contact him at lloyd.trushel@bobit.com.

Comment

  1. 1. Jason Boothe [ March 13, 2018 @ 02:09PM ]

    Great insight, Lloyd. Your advice is certainly true for small market dealerships like mine. We rely on return customers and word-of-mouth referrals from those customers. I offer my buyers my entire product line each and every time. But, our pricing always takes our local market realities into account. We sell products that actually do what the products promise at prices that don't bury our clients to the gills. We want to build long-term, even life-long, customer relationships. And, in turn, these long-term relationships continually push us over the top month after month. Thanks again for the timely article!

  2. 2. Frank Pugliese [ March 14, 2018 @ 04:24AM ]


    Truly insightful article. I totally agree with you; the Home Run deal comes at a price- how many deals do you strike out with trying to hit that HR? At the end of the month, the difference between the highest PVR producer and the "average" producer is only a couple of hundred dollars but the percentage of Zero deals is usually higher with the guy who has the Biggest PVR deals int hat store. I see this movie every month with 95 producers in my Group.

    Again, Great article.

  3. 3. Mad Marv [ March 14, 2018 @ 06:25AM ]

    Make the offer of all products but always keep the customer's welfare in mind. Great article, Lloyd!

  4. 4. ALBERT RIVERA [ March 15, 2018 @ 04:49PM ]

    Great article, you create goodwill with the customer by being fair and also it helps customer retention.

  5. 5. Asim [ March 16, 2018 @ 06:12PM ]

    Customer first; dollars second. . . Customers leaving the F&I office satisfied are 400% more likely to return to the dealership for future purchases. Team work makes the dream work!

  6. 6. Lloyd Trushel [ April 06, 2018 @ 12:28PM ]

    Hello All,

    Thank you very much for your comments and feedback. It's amazing how a 20 year F&I manager can adopt new habits and out perform themselves and create more profit by focusing on their customer instead of their PVR.

    Very best regards,
    Lloyd

  7. 7. Dan Landers [ April 17, 2018 @ 06:27PM ]

    I agree completely, and have employed this philosophy for years. A customer that gets protection and security on his entire vehicle feels truly secure, yet the profit from 5 or 6 products feeds the APC and your service department regularly than the fat warranty (which will probably be cancelled for a cheaper one soon anyway). There is the occasional one product home run, but you have to be smart enough and thorough enough to know when to swing.

 

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