Who doesn’t know the old baseball poem, “Casey at the Bat”? Down by two runs with an inning to go, the hopes of the fictional town of Mudville rested on the shoulders of the mighty Casey. And with runners on second and third, as the tale goes, Casey stepped to the plate. All that was needed was a hit to save the game for the Mudville Nine.
Written in 1888 by Ernest Thayer, the poem is a story about pride, arrogance and self-confidence gone awry. I’m sure Thayer wasn’t thinking about the F&I office when he wrote it, but the lesson he imparts certainly does apply.
Take the cash deal. How many times have you kept the bat on your shoulder because you didn’t think you had a chance of selling anything to that cash-paying customer? Well, as Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
But I’ve been there. I have felt that gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach when a salesperson lays a deal on my desk with a note that the customer is paying cash and has already made out his check. You feel defeated and helpless, because it’s your third cash deal in a row and your per-copy average is sinking fast.
So you hurriedly print out the docs and get the customer in and out of your office in hopes that the next customer will sign off on your platinum plan. Well, if you haven’t realized by now, not every deal is going to arrive nicely wrapped with a bow on top. Some deals require you to be on top of your game, which is why you need to develop a well-structured cash menu you can roll out every time a cash-paying customer enters your office.
One can only imagine how that pitcher must have felt facing Casey. He burned two fastballs by the mighty hitter, who didn’t bat an eye. “That ain’t my style,” Casey says after the first pitch. But his overconfidence would be his undoing, as the pitcher blew another fastball by “the force of Casey’s blow,” leaving the crowd silenced and the hero in disgrace.
Now imagine for a moment if Casey had taken a swat at one of those two pitches he sneered at? Would the outcome have been different? Unfortunately, no one will ever know, because Casey only took a hack at the one pitch he thought was worthy of his efforts and skill.
I know what you‘re thinking: “Oh, Marv, we‘ve sold this customer in the past and they never buy anything” or “The desk worked them for all the cash and there‘s nothing left for a service contract.”
Well, kind of like Casey on those first two pitches, you’ll never know if you had a chance if you don’t take a hack and make your presentation.
Here’s a question for you: Are you so good at predicting what a customer will do that you decide which ones deserve your best presentation? Or do you base your decision on what they told you during your needs-discovery interview?
Look, you have three choices when it comes to cash customers: Present 100% of your products every single time, select which cash customers are right for your presentation or abandon all attempts to present your menu to these customers. Now guess which option top performers select.
Like baseball, F&I is a game of numbers. And the only way to put those averages in your favor is by leaving your emotions out of it and sticking with the process. Top performers know this and act accordingly. I know it’s easier said than done, but that’s why we must constantly remind ourselves to stay the course.
So the next time you’re faced with three consecutive cash deals, you have a decision to make. You can simply print out the docs and rush the customers out of your office, or you can set up a cash menu with all your products and make an energetic presentation. Hey, those three deals may be the only ones you get that day. If you choose to let them fly by, you can count on nothing happening. So slap some rosin on your bat, get back in that batter’s box and don’t waste any pitches! Good luck and keep closing!
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected]