When I started my first car sales gig at the ripe age of 22, things were going pretty well. But after several months went by, I found myself struggling. What I needed was a little mentoring, and my F&I manager unwittingly came to the rescue.
I’ll never forget what he tried to do for me. He went on to have a very successful career with one of the largest public dealer groups in the nation, but his teachings really helped me during those early years. Yes, they took a while to sink in, but they eventually did and I’m forever grateful for his help.
See, my problem was that I was flying by the seat of my pants. Yes, chance did smile upon me from time to time, but that approach, as I learned, wasn’t conducive to sustaining a long and successful career.
“Chance favors the prepared mind” is an old business adage adapted from a quote by famous microbiologist Louis Pasteur. The premise is to be constantly prepping yourself for opportunity by way of study and learning. It also means developing the right attitude. And that’s the lesson my mentor imparted on me.
Without a prepared mind, opportunities for advancement are missed or overlooked. Hey, success doesn’t just happen. It takes effort. That’s why I’ve attended the magazine’s annual F&I conference every year. Yes, I do serve as its back-page columnist, but I was a loyal attendee long before I wrote my first column.
One of the things I enjoy about the conference is catching up with old friends and colleagues. But the reason I attend every year is I’m always looking for something — or someone — to inspire me or to help me sharpen my skills.
And before I make the trip, I carefully select the sessions that address areas where I’ve become dull or ones that offer advice on handling troublesome situations. And I wasn’t disappointed with this year’s program. In fact, I was able to use some of what I learned the first day back in the dealership. Actually, I used it on the first customer I saw. He flatly declared that vehicle service contracts are a waste of money. Well, he left a happy camper after purchasing his first VSC.
But there was something else that inspired me this year. It wasn’t a new technique or advice on how to approach a situation in the F&I office. No, what inspired me was a young salesman named Adham Tarabay.
You may be wondering why a salesperson would want to hang out with a bunch of guys and gals chatting about F&I. Well, the answer might surprise you. See, Adham, who has only been selling cars for a few years, was at the show because he was passed over for an F&I gig at his previous sales job. He left that store and got another sales job at a dealership that prefers to hire from within. So, to ensure that he’s prepared for that next opportunity, he made the trip to Las Vegas to learn from the best in the industry.
What really blew me away was Adham made the trip on his own dime. That’s right. After being granted time off from his new employer, he paid his own way to be at the conference. He also paid for formal F&I training offered by a company located near his home in British Columbia, Canada.
I have no doubt Adham will become a top performer one day. He just wants it that badly. And he made it a point to seek out as much knowledge as possible during the conference, soaking up everything he learned like a dry sponge. The last thing he told me was: “I’ll be back next year as a full-fledged business manager!”
Adham is one of the best examples of a prepared mind. He’s making the leap from sales to F&I, but he’s not doing it blindly nor without any direction.
So what about you? Are you studying the industry between deals? Do you mentally practice and hone your presentation skills during down times? Have you read the most current product enrollment forms you hand to customers? Hey, something may have changed that you could use to help an uncertain customer make a qualified decision.
Opportunity comes in many forms. The people who spot them and take advantage are the ones who are mentally prepared. I invite you to join the party and up the ante in your store. Adham has and so should you. Good luck and keep closing!