It was Henry Ford that once said, “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t … you’re right.” That quote came to mind while I was reflecting on an article I wrote back in 2011 titled, “Squishing the Flea Mentality.” It dealt with the limitations we put on ourselves and our abilities.

It’s a known fact that we use less than 10 percent of our brain’s problem-solving capabilities. Sure, it’d be good if we could use the other 90 percent, but it’s likely we wouldn’t fare any better. That’s why we need to focus on the task at hand with the tools we already have.

Take the F&I menu. Does the design of this F&I sales tool really affect the outcome? No, it’s what you say and do that leads to a sale. In fact, I know of an F&I manager several states away that runs near the top of our 20 Group month in and month out. And guess what? He doesn’t use a menu.

It’s not the menu or even the process that drives sales; it’s about your burning desire to be your best. I often think we waste too much energy comparing ourselves to other people; it drags us down when we don’t measure up.  

Hey, you come to work every day and put in 10 to 14 hours toiling with co-workers while trying to work miracles on impossible deals. But what do you get in return? You get beat up by customers, salespeople, management and title clerks, right? That’s why I say, if you’re going to put in the time, you might as well go after the dime. Hey, there’s no glory in being an F&I manager, so why not break the bonds that stop you and make it your goal to reach the level you can only dream about?

And don’t worry about failing. Mr. Ford didn’t. In fact, here’s what he had to say about failures: “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Ford broke tons of fabricated parts while testing out his designs. And I’m sure many of those failures were lying around his workshop to remind him of his disappointments, but he believed in what he was doing and knew he could make it work.

“Never complain. Never explain,” he said.

Well, when you fail to seal the deal with a customer using a particular close, what you’ve done is uncovered one reason the customer won’t buy. So rather than complain, try something different. And if that doesn’t work, try something else until you get the customer’s attention.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard F&I managers complain about their profit per vehicle retailed being in the toilet and how everything in their office seems to be in a death spiral. My response to those situations is to stop whining and start figuring out where you’re going wrong. Once you’ve done that, put an action plan together to correct your problem. Hey, no one but you can fix your problem.

Ford also had this to say about problem solving: “There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems.” And that’s what you have to keep in mind when you try to get yourself back on track, because slumps don’t happen overnight. They happen because you’ve strayed from the process over time. Remember when you stopped offering a certain product because you started believing customers wouldn’t buy it? Well, that was the beginning of your performance skid.

Ford also said this: “There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do.” It’s a great line to refer to when you’re in a slump. I mean, what if Ford gave up because he couldn’t solve an issue? That’s why you have to get rid of that “stinking thinking.” 

So, next time you find yourself saying, “You don’t understand, my customers are different; they won’t pay $2,500 for a service contract,” I want you to think of this line from Mr. Ford: “Most people spend more time and energy going around problems than in trying to solve them. Don’t find fault, find a remedy.”

See, the biggest obstacle in your way to achieving $1,000, $1,200, $1,500 or even higher is the gray matter between your ears.  If you don’t believe you can, you’re already at your max output. 

You may be struggling with my message this month, especially if you’re enduring a tough stretch in the box. The last thing you need is someone getting on your case. Well, I’m not just “somebody.” I’m an F&I manager who does this job every day, someone who has struggled just like you. So think of these articles as my way of giving back to the people who have helped me through the years. And as a veteran of this profession, my message to you is to start believing in yourself and the results will follow.

Marv Eleazer is a finance manager at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. E-mail him at [email protected]