No matter how long you’ve been in the box or how good you are, there’s always that month when it seems the floodgates of customer apathy and resistance swing open, drown your numbers, and wipe away your self-confidence. And no amount of encouragement from your showroom staffers can help, as your mind tells you the light they say is at the end of the tunnel is really the headlight of an oncoming train.
Like most of you, I’ve sat through countless hours of offsite training seminars led by some of the best in the business. These pros teach methods, process and deal flow, and they offer tips on how to overcome objection while maintaining top-notch customer satisfaction. And that’s all well and good. Problem is, there is always an element of reality that’s rarely, if ever, taught.
Of course, I’m talking about the skill of staying mentally and emotionally sharp when things turn sour.
In fact, I remember attending a conference in Las Vegas years ago. A company executive was on the stage promoting his online university, telling dealers in the room they could save on travel costs by having their F&I managers learn from the comfort of their desks. I was suffering through a rough patch at the time. In fact, I was struggling with the idea of being away from my store during a crucial month.
Well, after droning on for what seemed like an hour, the executive finally opened the floor to questions. I waited for a few attendees to get their questions in — none of which addressed how I was feeling — before I asked for the microphone.
“What, if any, online workshops do you have to help with the daily rigors of the job when you’re mentally or emotionally struggling with a downturn at the dealership?” I asked. The speaker was caught off guard. He stumbled to find the right words before admitting his online course didn’t address that, which left me feeling even more frustrated.
So how do we overcome this issue? Well, there are a handful of F&I pros and trainers — individuals who have actually sat in the F&I chair — I feel comfortable reaching out to when I’m struggling. One person in particular still does F&I for a living. I call him my moral compass because he always knows the right thing to say. In fact, I know the moment I dial his number what direction he’ll take the conversation. He’s just really good at reminding me how great this job can be.
So I guess that’s the answer. And it makes sense, right? I mean, who better to pull you out of that mental slump than someone who faces the same issues and customer personalities you do every day? So that’s my message to you this month: Pull yourself off your little island, attend a conference or pick up the phone, and start building your network of trusted professionals who do what you do, and can help you through those difficult times.
The cool thing about sharing is it doesn’t take long for a second set of eyes to point out the great things happening in your store. Hey, it’s pretty easy to become so involved in those small aggravations that you can’t see the forest for the trees. In fact, I bet you’ll be amazed at how many F&I managers would love to trade chairs with you.
Sure, there are going to be downturns from time to time, and you’re going to be right in the middle of one sooner or later. The question is, how will you deal with it? And who will you call for a little motivation?
It’s those two questions that inspired the creation of my Ethical F&I Managers Facebook group seven years ago. It continues to thrive as a place where F&I pros can go to vent, get their questions answered, and even overcome a slump. So, again, my advice to you this month is to reach out to someone and start building your network of trusted allies. You might be surprised by how quick your numbers turn around with a different point of view. Good luck, and keep closing!
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected]