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Meet the five F&I pros vying to win the 2014 F&Idol competition and the $2,500 grand prize.

September 2014, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Gregory Arroyo - Also by this author

The fourth installment of the IAS-sponsored F&Idol contest features the overall winners from the last two competitions, both of whom work for the same dealer group. This year’s field also features a three-time winner of the contest’s Tire & Wheel category.

The competition launched in late July, when readers of F&I and Showroom were asked to submit their best on-camera pitch in the following categories: Vehicle Service Contract, Tire & Wheel, Key Replacement, F&I Products for Leases, and an open category. Entries were judged in late August, with category winners honored at this month’s Industry Summit.

Category winners, who received a $1,000 cash prize, were then asked to reshoot their winning entries at the magazine’s annual conference. Those videos will be made available online and will serve as their entries for the contest’s final round, which will be voted on by readers of the magazine. The overall winner will then be announced in the November issue. Now here’s a look at the five finalists vying to be crowned this year’s F&Idol champ.

Key Replacement

Winner: Stephanie Cooper

Title: Finance Manager

Dealership: Timbrook Automotive, Cumberland, Md.

An F&I manager for more than five years, Cooper returns as the reigning F&Idol winner. Last year, her Vehicle Service Contract entry got her into the competition’s final round. This year, she took top honors in the Key Replacement category. Cooper, who works at Timbrook’s Chevrolet store in Keyser, W.Va., averages more than $1,300 per copy on 1.4 products per deal. Her acceptance rate for key replacement is 50%.

Objection: I never lose my keys.

Cooper: I understand you feel you don’t need it, but would you mind if I share something with you?

Customer: No, go ahead.

Cooper: I recently flew to Florida, parked my car in long-term parking, put the car key in the luggage and checked in my luggage. Well, the airline lost the luggage. That’s normally not a big deal, because I have a spare, right?

Well, the spare was two hours away at the house. So instead of renting a car, driving all the way home and all the way back to the airport, I called roadside assistance. They towed me to the nearest dealer, the dealer cut and programmed the key for me, and I was on my way with zero out-of-pocket expense. So with key replacement, we can take care of that for you. Do you want me to go ahead and add that for that $5 a month, or do you want to pay cash?

Other (GAP)

Winner: Rodger Martin

Title: Business Manager

Dealership: Stan McNabb Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram, Tullahoma, Tenn.

Martin enters F&Idol’s final round as a first-time contestant, winning the competition’s open category with his GAP presentation. His acceptance rate for GAP is 53%. Martin has spent 16 years in the industry and six years at his current dealership. Before becoming a full-time F&I manager in 2007, he served as both a sales manager and an F&I manager for a pre-owned lot operated by a franchised dealer.

Objection: But I can get GAP through State Farm.

Martin: You can. I have State Farm insurance myself, and they have tried to get me to get their GAP on my vehicles before. But let me explain to you why I didn’t, and maybe you’ll have a little bit better understanding. State Farm’s GAP does a couple of things: No. 1, it’s what they call a “rider” policy. If they pay the insurance claim and the GAP claim, you get two dings on your insurance. And you know what that’s going to do to your rates.

Customer: They’re going to go up.

Martin: That’s exactly right. The second thing is, if somebody else is at fault and State Farm doesn’t have to pay anything, their GAP insurance doesn’t have to pay anything either. So you could be left holding the bag with anywhere from $2,400 to $6,000 in order to replace the vehicle, plus you’ve got to pay your $1,000 insurance deductible. So you can see why it makes a lot more sense to go and enroll in our GAP today, don’t you?\

Products for Leases

Winner: Justin Gasman

Title: F&I Director

Dealership: McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC, Boulder, Colo.

The 11-year industry veteran is a first-time contestant in the F&Idol contest. He joined his current store, which is also up for the magazine’s 2014 F&I Dealer of the Year award, this past January. In the past eight months, he has more than doubled the group’s per-copy average. His acceptance rate on Ally’s SmartLease Protection product is 50% on 10 leases per month. His per-copy average is well north of $1,200.

Objection: We keep our cars in good condition and I make sure they are washed and waxed.

Gasman: I can appreciate that. And washing and waxing will help. But washing and waxing are really just maintenance. This is going to take care of the excess wear-and-tear charges. Let’s say the kids leave a crayon in the back and it melts into the seat, causing damage to the leather. Or let’s say there’s a scratch or damage from soccer equipment in the back panel. It might be something you don’t notice, but it’ll need to be taken care of at the end of the lease. And the difference is — $1,315 is your base; $1,329 is with the full vehicle protection program through Ally. So that’s only a $15 difference per month.

Tire and Wheel

Winner: Jeremy Johnston

Title: Business Manager

Dealership: The Suburban Collection, Troy, Mich.

This is the third championship bout in as many years for Johnston, who works at the group’s Ford store in Sterling Heights, Mich. The 12-year industry veteran averages just shy of two products per deal and just north of $1,000 per copy. He has been with his current store for three years.

Objection: I don’t want my monthly payment to go up.

Johnston: I’m a fast food guy. Do you like fast food?

Customer: Yeah.

Johnston: What would you rather have, a Big Mac or a cheeseburger?

Customer: Probably a Big Mac.

Johnston: Because it fills you up quicker, right? It’s the same thing with that 17-inch rim and tire you have on your previous car. You hit a pothole, guess what? That rim has a lot of beef on it. Guess what you have on your new car?

Customer: What?

Johnston: You’ve got a cheeseburger on your car with those 20-inch rims. There’s not a lot of beef. So those potholes are going to eat those up left and right. And it costs $1,195 for one rim and one tire. In fact, here at our dealer group, year to date, we’ve done more than $1 million in just tire and rim replacements for folks.

Vehicle Service Contract

Winner: Dina Wilson

Title: F&I Director

Dealership: Timbrook Automotive, Cumberland, Md.

This 10-year industry veteran is back in the competition’s final round after being named the 2012 F&Idol winner. She’s been with Timbrook Automotive for seven years, serving as the group’s F&I director out of Timbrook Auto Outlet, a pre-owned store. Wilson’s acceptance rate on vehicle service contracts stands at 57% (pre-owned only). She averages $1,160 per copy on 1.5 products per deal.

Customer: I still have that five-year, 60,000-mile warranty, right?

Wilson: You do. But do you know why manufacturers put a longer warranty on their powertrain?

Customer: Because it needs it more?

Wilson: No, they put longer warranties on there because those aren’t the parts that typically go bad. It sounds good, but that’s not usually what happens. The reason is, you can maintain your transmission, your cooling system and your engine by doing regular oil changes. So those things can be maintained, but your electronics cannot.
As an example, I’m sure you have a cell phone, right?

Customer: Yes ma’am.

Wilson: Well, back in the day, cell phones weighed about two pounds. Now they are less than five ounces, and you have the world at your fingertips in that cellphone. Cars are not much different. Back in the day, you could access everything underneath the hood of a car. But today, everything is computerized and the cars are harder to maintain because you have to go to a computer to figure out what’s wrong with the vehicle. It really is a computer nowadays. And if your computer goes wrong, you have to replace it. It either works or it doesn’t. So why not go ahead and protect your vehicle the full time you plan on keeping it by protecting all your electronics and your engine and transmission?

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