I didn’t know what to expect. F&I Think Tank wasn’t my first rodeo, but the one-day event was different: Not only were we asking attendees to stick with us for nine straight hours, we were asking them to get in the discussion. Well, according to results of our attendee survey, not only did we deliver, we knocked it out of the park.

F&I Think Tank was held May 3 at the Sheraton Tampa Riverwalk Hotel, where about 65 dealers, general managers, F&I directors and industry insiders exchanged techniques, discussed hot-button issues and renewed their passion for this industry.

I’d like to especially thank the event’s F&I trainers Gerry Gould, Luis Garcia, and Rick McCormick. It was clear they were in their element, as they stayed in the conversation before and after their 1:35 p.m. session. Also putting on a show were past F&Idol winners Dina Wilson, G.P. Anderson and Justin Gasman. Then there’s our 2014 F&I Dealer of the Year, Jane Vaden Thacher of Vaden Automotive Group. She dazzled the audience with her presentation. In fact, I don’t think the F&I pros in the room had ever heard such passion about F&I from a dealer.

As for the event’s compliance gurus, well, I don’t have enough room to list them all, but just know their panel session was one of the highlights of the day.

So, yeah, everyone delivered, but there was a moment early on when I wondered if things would go as planned. Then it happened, about 40 minutes into the event’s second session. It featured the aforementioned Justin Gasman of Boulder, Colo.’s McCaddon Cadillac Buick GMC, James Ballou of Dick Norris Buick GMC in Clearwater, Fla., and Humbert Cazaubon of BMW of Sarasota, Fla. I served as the moderator, but I can’t take any of the credit.

The ice was already beginning to break when Justin offered to run through a cash-conversion technique he used the week prior on a couple who proclaimed, “Nope, we pay cash. That’s what we’ve always done.’”

Gasman said the technique requires a customer of “reasonable intelligence, because you have to keep their attention for at least five to 10 minutes to walk them through the exercise.”

Here’s some background: A salesperson had failed to inform the married couple about GM Financial’s subvented 0.9% for 60 months on pre-owned Cadillacs, which is what they were buying. Justin, whose F&I office sits in the middle of the showroom, immediately took the deal the moment he heard the husband fuming over the dealership’s offer for his trade-in. It was an exchange he referenced when the couple initially objected to his pitch.

“So you’re going to walk over $300 on a trade, but I’m showing you how to put money in your pocket,” he told them.

The technique only requires a sheet of paper and a computer with an Internet connection. “It’s old school,” Justin said. On the sheet of paper, he wrote an “A,” circled it and wrote down the full amount for the vehicle. He then wrote down “B,” circled it and wrote $5,000 down at 0.9% for 60 months.

“The comment always comes up, ‘I’m going to pay 0.9%, but I’m earning .01% in my savings account. This doesn’t make sense,’” Justin noted. When it did, he clicked on bankrate.com to show the couple that Ally was paying 0.85% on money market accounts and 1% on the savings accounts. He then calculated how much money the money market account would earn over five years vs. what the customer would pay in interest on their auto loan.

“The difference was about $1,300,” Justin said.

“So the customer, who was going to write me a check for $35,000, ends up giving me $5,000,” he added. “And in my office, I helped them go to Ally.com and we opened a money market account right there, transferred $30,000 from his Chase bank account, stuck it in the account and then got GM Financial to auto debit the Ally bank account.”

The audience came alive, and remained so for the remainder of the day.

“And it wasn’t a huge victory,” Justin shouted over the chorus of cheers. “It was only a $100 flat on a 0.9%, and I sold etch and GAP. It was the best $600 I’ve ever made.”

It was at that moment I knew I was part of something special. Here’s what one attendee said in our survey: “I couldn’t take enough notes … It was refreshing to listen to others in the same chosen career sharing the trials of their day and the methods they use to handle them.”

Mission accomplished. By the way, Industry Summit is just around the corner. 


Gregory Arroyo
Gregory Arroyo

Editorial Director

Gregory Arroyo is the former editorial director of Bobit Business Media's Dealer Group.

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Gregory Arroyo is the former editorial director of Bobit Business Media's Dealer Group.

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