How often have you heard an F&I professional say “That bank rep should bring us lunch” or “He showed up and I didn’t have time to see him” or “I made her wait in the showroom until she got tired and left”?
This backward approach to handling bank reps has always concerned me. These men and women are your partners in F&I. They’re not some vendor that comes into your store looking to sell you a shoeshine. They are someone you should be able to call morning, noon and night — even on weekends, when your buyer isn’t at work — to help you put a deal together.
Mind Your Reputation
Nothing will build you up among your sales staff faster than being able to get the most complicated deals done. To be known as the F&I guy or gal who can get anything bought is a fantastic reputation to have and one that will precede you. Who better to help you in those endeavors than a bank rep?
When I meet an F&I manager who exhibits the “what-can-you-do-for-me” mentality, I assume at least one of three things is true: he is inexperienced (no matter how long he’s been in the business), likely to let pride and ego stand in the way of results, or has yet to figure out the business and is probably not very popular with any colleague.
The auto retail business really is a small world. Everyone knows everyone. The same applies to the finance sector. Your reputation travels fast in that community. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve interviewed a potential candidate for an F&I position in one of my stores, been impressed by how that individual presented himself or herself, then called a bank rep in his or her market and got the real scoop.
Nurture Lending Relationships
Great F&I managers know that bank reps are a critical liaison between them and the bank. We look to our lending partners for help with collecting and verifying stips, or even getting them waived. We look to bank reps to push an approval through for deals we believe in and during the end-of-month rush.
Bottom line, great F&I managers know there is no substitute for a great bank rep. When I was one of two guys in charge of F&I operations for a group with 34 stores across five states, we treated our bank reps with the highest regard, and any of them would tell you the same today. We didn’t have them buy us lunch. We bought them lunch. I always made it a point to invite them into my stores as often as they wanted to come. And when they did, I offered them a workstation so they could set up their laptops, make phone calls, and help work deals at the desk.
In return, those reps and their banks would go above and beyond to finance our deals. And when we asked them to participate in training new F&I managers, they were always happy to help — and we all benefited from learning more about the specifics of their programs and approval processes.
In this business, relationships are key. We work in a tight-knit community of professionals. If you have abused your bank reps in the past, I recommend you turn it around — now! Start rolling out the red carpet when they walk in. Buy them lunch and tell them you appreciate them. Allow them to see what you’re working on and allow them to ask you for more deals. Remember, they have a job to do, too.
Treat your bank reps like partners this year, and I promise your skill set, reputation and production will go from good to great in the blink of an eye.
Shaka Dyson is the founder and CEO of Dealer F&I University and creator of the “F&I 20 Group” Facebook group. Contact him at [email protected].