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Dissecting the Meet-and-Greet

October 2010, F&I and Showroom - Feature

by Gerry Gould

Throughout my career, I have been fortunate to work with some of the most creative car guys in the industry. As a result of these associations, I have learned countless best practices. I would like to share two of the most prominent traits I have observed that separate elite F&I managers from the rest.

The best production comes from F&I managers who, when not in front of a customer, spend the majority of their time at the sales desk. Not only can they make better observations about the customer from this vantage point, it improves communication with the buyer.

Gaining Customer Commitments

I also have witnessed what an active F&I manager can do after reviewing those helpless deals — you know, the ones the sales team has tried everything in its power to make happen. It’s not that the sales managers were incapable of doing their jobs; it’s that, oftentimes, they are sent down the wrong path due to a salesperson’s misguidance.

Remember, an active F&I manager can bring a fresh perspective to a deal. If the F&I manager is involved in the sales process, he or she can usually see things a little more clearly because his or her primary focus is to solidify the deal and support the sales team in gaining a commitment from the customer.

The reason I would tell F&I managers to introduce themselves to the customer in the sales area is because it works to reset the clock, putting the customer at ease as he or she enters the finance department. For the F&I manager, this action helps to establish a rapport between the F&I manager and the customer, which makes the customer more receptive to the F&I process.

Get Involved Early and Often

The F&I manager is typically the most talented closer in the store, so using his or her talents to secure a sale will certainly be beneficial. However, the F&I manager needs to be conditioned to think of F&I profits only after the sale is made. Taking this approach and creating a common goal will promote better collaboration between the sales and finance departments.

Early involvement by the F&I manager also will reduce the number of poorly structured deals, which tend to disrupt the F&I manager’s efficiency. At the very least, early participation puts the F&I manager in the middle of the action, allows him or her to assist in structuring the deal properly and ensures that paperwork is complete and accurate. The sales staff benefits from having someone who is up-to-date on current lending programs; in other words, an expert on the who, what and how lenders look at a deal.

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