So Mrs. Marv and I recently purchased our first boat. We did a lot of research before we committed. Yes, we wanted to make sure we got the boat we wanted, but we also had to be sure we could safely handle it when navigating a busy marina. So we completed a boating safety course and joined a chapter of the U.S. Power Squadron to stay up to date with safety regulations.
I also realized that classroom instruction alone couldn’t prepare us for real-world situations we’d face, so we hired a professional captain to give us lessons. His expertise was invaluable. He taught us how to read charts and navigate the local waters. Hey, docking a boat in calm water is tough enough; try doing it in a crosscurrent and 10-mile-per-hour winds.
Fear just has a way of taking hold of the mind when you lack experience. Luckily, the captain was always there to remind us to stick with what we were taught — or as we boating folk like to say, “stay the course.”
And that’s my message to you this month. See, as F&I professionals, we face a host of distractions on a regular basis. They can kill our confidence and cause us to start shortcutting our processes. Pretty soon, our numbers begin to tumble and our department suffers.
It’s so easy to go off course when outside forces start getting into our heads. It can be issues at home, a bothersome coworker or a demanding customer. And I know putting those issues aside is easier said than done. That’s why we have processes.
See, our established processes are designed to work whether we’re having a great day or a bad day. Hey, whatever situation you’ve faced — whether it was contracts-in-transit issues, lost stips or botched turnovers — I’ve faced it as well. Maybe you were slammed with six customers at once, and every one of them wanted you to work at the speed of light. Whatever the case is, you cannot afford to deviate from the process. You must stay the course. There’s just too much at stake.
And just like the sales process, the F&I process has its own version of the road to a sale. And it exists because it works. Let’s review:
The Meet and Greet: This quick introduction at the salesperson’s desk does a couple of things. For one, the F&I manager resets the clock by telling the customers when he’ll be ready to see him or her. Second, missing information and questions regarding a credit issue can be addressed.
Confirmation and Disclosure: This step involves reviewing the sales price, trade allowance and any payment discussion the desk had with the customer to ensure the deal is ready to move forward.
Menu Presentation: Whichever menu or method you use, it’s vital you become proficient in presenting your products. In fact, it should only take a few minutes to complete. And it should flow naturally and with ease, and never sound like a canned speech.
Answer Questions and Concerns: It’s critical that you make sure your customers understand what you’ve presented.
Confirm Their Decision: Once you’ve done this, it’s time to close the deal and print the documents.
Of course, what I’ve outlined is a basic F&I process. I know most of you can run through those steps in your sleep, but the mark of a true professional is one who can stick with the process when faced with a string of cash or outside lien customers who aren’t interested in your products.
No matter how tough it gets, you cannot drift from the proven method on which you’ve been trained. Hey, I’ve been in situations where my confidence was shot after posting a big zero on my previous six deals. Then the next customer who entered my office bought every product offered. I stayed the course, stuck to the process and kept my emotions out of it.
So the next time you encounter rough water and high seas, remember that great feeling when you stuck with the process and had a customer buy everything without uttering a single objection. Good luck and smooth sailing!
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected]