When I think about all the things we need to know and study to become an F&I professional, I recall those rhymes and songs I’d come up with in grade school to help me remember the lesson of the day. Sometimes it was an acronym, sometimes it was an abbreviation like the three “R”s of education: reading, writing and arithmetic. Well, this month I want to talk about the three “P”s of the F&I trade.
So, what are the three “P”s? Well, you’re not going to find them in the same manual you used to read up on the rules and regulations governing the F&I office. You won’t find them in some webinar you sat through on closing methods and menu usage. But I can tell you that the three “P”s are just as critical to your role as an F&I manager. In fact, when ignored, they can be a recipe for disaster.
The three “P”s are politics, personalities and pressures, and they can only be learned during on-the-job training. Let’s review each one.
1. Political Games
I have to admit that this is one of the toughest things to battle. No matter where you’re employed or what franchise you represent, internal politics will always be a stumbling block.
There’s the co-worker who seems to get special treatment every time a controversy arises. Problems always seem to magically disappear for this character, right? Maybe they’ve done a good job sucking up. Whatever the case, these individuals aren’t willing to develop the skills they obviously lack. You just have to decide how much distance you need to put between you and them.
Then there are those times when you are asked to veer from the process to appease a family member or friend of someone working at the dealership. This may adversely affect your paycheck or averages and cause great frustration, but you do have a choice: You can either go along with what’s asked or say “No” and deal with the repercussions. Unfortunately, these situations will arise often, so proceed with caution.
2. Personality Issues
Wouldn’t it be great if we all came to work with the same goal of delivering cars at the maximum gross possible for both the front and back end? Heck, wouldn’t it be great if everyone had each other’s back? Man, what a concept! Problem is, it takes a strong, Type A personality to go for max gross, and not everyone possesses the drive.
There are the passive-aggressive Type Bs. Urgency is simply not part of their work day. But they are better than Type C, who are a little blasé and possess almost no aggression — mainly because they don’t like confrontation. Type D is the same. They don’t like confrontation either, and the only thing that motivates them is making enough “jingle” to buy a six-pack and make it through the weekend.
There are also the subtypes within the four basic groups that drive us mad. Together, they seem to be working in harmony to sabotage every bona fide effort we make to get deals done.
As for us “A” types, we never seem to get enough. If we just knocked the last 10 deals out of the park, we get ticked off when we blank on the 11th. But we must remember that not everyone thinks like we do, and we must figure out a way to appreciate what those other personality types bring to the table. Take Type C. These individuals are deep thinkers who can be perfectionists. Our job is to recognize those traits and figure out how to make those personalities mesh with ours. Hey, we’re all in this together, right?
3. Pressure Cooker
Life in the “dungeon” offers plenty of daily pressures. And these pressures are not just limited to just work-related issues. If they were, what an easy day we would have.
See, aside from the daily pressures we face, there can be issues at home we have to deal with. It can be like juggling chainsaws and kittens sometimes, right? Lucky for us Type As, the thrill of success can be so infectious that it allows us to forget all those other things. The truth is that most pressures we face are self-induced. If we can recognize that, we can work through all the little challenges we face.
There’s one additional “P” we could add to the three I covered: profit. It’s the reason we get up every morning, right? Like you, I’m here for the money. I love the thrill of the kill and the job satisfaction that comes with it. You just have to learn how to make sure the other three “P”s don’t get in the way.
Marv Eleazer is a finance manager at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. E-mail him at [email protected]