F&I and Showroom magazine and its sponsor, Innovative Aftermarket Systems (IAS), set out to find the best F&I presentations in the following categories: Vehicle Service Contracts, GAP, Tire and Wheel, Key Replacement and Theft Deterrent. One of the five individuals selected will be named the 2011 winner of the magazine’s inaugural F&Idol contest.

In July, readers of the magazine were asked to submit a video of a mock customer interaction. The videos had to be less than five minutes long, and each contestant had to  successfully handle at least two customer objections. The prize for each of the category winners: $1,000, plus airfare and hotel accommodations at the
Las Vegas Hilton.

Judging the entries were Bob Corbin, president and CEO of IAS; Gregory Arroyo, the magazine’s executive editor; ‘Mad’ Marv Eleazer, monthly columnist and F&I director at Langdale Ford; Ron Reahard, magazine contributor and president of Reahard and Associates Inc.; Steve Veldkamp, training director at Great Lakes Companies; Alan Miller, senior vice president of CNA National Warranty Corp.; Robert Harkins, president of RAH Consulting; and Randall Crisorio, president and CEO of United Development Systems.

Entries were judged for their transition statements and overall flow, customer rapport, product disclosures and knowledge, effective use of personal stories, and objection handling. In all, judges reviewed more than 30 entries and selected the five individuals profiled below.

The videos were posted on the Industry Summit Website to allow readers to vote for their favorite finalist and help decide who would walk away with the F&Idol trophy — and an additional $2,500. Here’s a look at the finalists:


Name: G.P. Anderson, finance manager (F&Idol Grand Prize Winner)

Store: Thielen Motors, Park Rapids, Minn.

Years in the Business: More than 20

Years At Current Dealership: 12

Claim to Fame: His finance penetration rate stands at 78 percent, and he’s working toward averaging at least three products per deal.

Keys to Success: The constant need for improvement. “F&I managers need to strive to get 1 percent better every single day,” he says.

Customer Objection: I’m concerned about GAP raising my payments.

G.P.: In your situation, it will run you $499 for five years. Divide that by five and that comes out to $99 a year. Divide that by 365 and it costs you 28 cents a day to have that coverage. One of the great things about this coverage is that it covers you for five years. Let’s say that, in three years, you decide to trade out of [the vehicle]; you’ll still have two years of coverage remaining. If you cancel it, you get the balance of the money back, which we can use on your next vehicle purchase. It’s prorated.

Also, you said you wanted your payment to be under $300. Well, with the product, your payment is going to come in at $295.

Key Replacement

Name: Jim Hesselgrave, finance director

Store: Crown Honda, Pinellas Park, Fla.

Years in the Business: 32

Years At Current Dealership: 14

Claim to Fame: He was his store’s Finance Manager of the Year in 2010, and he averages two products per deal. Additionally, one out of every two customers buys a product from him.

Keys to Success: Doing the same thing every time and the training he received from Gerry Gould of United Development Systems.

Customer Objection: I’ve never lost my keys and I don’t plan to lose them in the future. I don’t think it’s a good product for me.

Jim: Let me tell you about another customer’s experience. A man takes his family to a theme park and, at some point during a rollercoaster ride, his keys fall out of his pocket. But he’s got one of these (holds up a customer card). He makes a phone call, gets picked up and is driven to the nearest dealership about six miles away at no charge. The dealership makes him a new key at no charge and they drive him back to the entrance so he can rejoin his family. All of that took less than an hour. Does this make more sense to you now?[PAGEBREAK]

Vehicle Service Contract

Name: Chris Bonilla, finance manager

Store: Auburn (Wash.) Chevrolet

Years in the Business: 6

Years At Current Dealership: 6

Claim to Fame: In August, his service contract penetration rate was at 68 percent and his average profit per retail unit was at $1,846. That means only 10 percent of his customers don’t buy products from him — the rest do.

Keys to Success: The mentorship of his owner, Phil Bivins, as well as the influence of his trainer, Joe Papa. He also credits training received from Resource Automotive.

Customer Objection: I don’t want my payment to go up, and I think this is a quality car.

Chris: Let’s say your car was 99.9 percent problem-free. So, if you multiply 15,000 parts by 99.9 percent, that means 14,985 parts will be problem-free. But that still leaves 15 problem parts. Let’s say your car is better than 99.9 percent and cut that number in half to seven problem parts. Our average repair order is $500. If I multiply $500 by seven, you get $3,500. Well, our service contract is $1,999, so you can see how our service contract is going to save you money in the future.

So, will 72 or 78 months work better for you?

Theft Deterrent

Name: Raymond Borg, finance manager

Store: Suburban Collection, Troy, Mich.

Years in the Business: 18

Years At Current Dealership: 8

Claim to Fame: The operation’s magic number for product per vehicle retailed is $1,000, so he likes to be around there. He also tries to achieve a two-product average per retail unit.

Keys to Success: The insights offered by his F&I Director, Gary Allgeier. The dealer group’s video recording system also allowed him to get his customer interactions really dialed in.

Customer Objection: The car uses a smart key. You can’t “jimmy” the lock or hotwire the car, so I think I’ll pass.

Raymond: Cars aren’t actually broken into, as least from the professional jobs we’ve seen. Instead, they’re flat-bedded. Once it gets into a garage, it’s disassembled into 50 parts or so. Our process etches traceable numbers into the vehicle. If your car is stolen and the parts did show up, police and body shops can use their black lights to see the phone number and VIN permanently etched [onto the parts]. We also warn thieves with a sticker that goes in the window. And the package comes with an additional $5,000 to help replace the car.

Customer: AAA has always covered me.

Raymond: They won’t cover the taxes, and the car loses about 20 percent in depreciation when you drive off the lot.

Customer: I could see how that would make sense.

Raymond: It’s approximately $7 or $8 a month to possibly deter a thief from thinking about stealing your car. And it helps you get your money back if it’s stolen. Want to go ahead and include it with your purchase?

Tire and Wheel

Name: Paul Vander Kamp, business manager

Store: DeNooyer Chevrolet, Kalamazoo, Mich.

Years in the Business: 7

Years At Current Dealership: 7

His Approach: Using both visual aids and real-life occurrences. “You’re in a high-importance position, so the more professional you are with customers, the better impression they have of you and the dealership,” he says.

His Key to Success: The training and support provided by Ally Financial.

Customer Objection: I like the coverage, but I can get it through ABC Tires for less.

Paul: ABC Tires has a great program. But if you’ve purchased there, they only give you a prorated replacement warranty. Ours is not prorated. If you’re 70 percent worn out and you need a new tire, they’re going to pay that kind of money for it. ABC Tires also does not cover the rim.

Customer: I also considered self-insuring because the tires and rims can’t be that much.

Paul: The truck model you’re buying has 20-inch rims, so you’re looking at about $200 per tire. Also, it’s going to be about $600 to $700 per wheel.

Customer: Those are a lot more expensive than I thought.

Paul: You have to ask yourself, is it easier to budget $2 to $3 a week, or is it easier to budget for a $900 unexpected repair?”