Whether or not we like admitting to our peers that we have weaknesses in the box, we do. That’s because none of us work or practice the trade at max efficiency on every deal. It’s called the “human condition,” namely, being flawed. It’s also the reason we need constant training and motivation to up our game.
It’s easy to take great pride in our ability after an “A”-type customer signs off on our platinum package. We almost dislocate our shoulders patting ourselves on the back. Then again, if the majority of your customers were “A”s, you’d be replaced by an hourly clerk.
But we know that’s just fantasy. It takes true skill and dedication to perfect our craft. It also requires that we seek out the help of others while practicing more effective closing methods. And we must pay attention to everything from profit per vehicle retailed and penetration rates to administrative duties and compliance issues. And we must be mentally sharp and consistently process-driven to limit funding headaches.
Unfortunately, you can do all that, every day, and still develop weaknesses. Let’s tick off three culprits commonly found in the business office:
1. Procrastination: No one likes to talk about this bad habit, but it certainly can be an annoyance, especially when you get backed up with new business walking in the door. You suddenly find yourself under a mountain of deals, forcing you to work overtime just to catch up.
Listen, I’m no saint. I have been offensive to co-workers because I wanted things to be absolutely perfect — to the point of wadding up their deals and throwing them into the hallway because of simple mistakes. I know you’ve never done anything that bad, but I have, and I was wrong.
Procrastination manifests itself in all the mistakes and missing documents that, in turn, causes funding delays and drives up your contracts in transit. Practice self-discipline and stick to the process, even when business is slow.
2. Lender Familiarization: Shotgunning deals can speed up the process when things get hairy on the show floor, but it isn’t always needed. It’s also easy to get too cozy with a finance source or a buyer and overlook huge opportunities elsewhere. The truth is finance sources are forever tweaking their buying practices based on portfolio performance.
These can include superflats, equity discounts, and exceptions.
You will never know the latest offerings if you don’t click on the various updates available in RouteOne and Dealertrack. Heck, I ran across a seldom-used finance source the other day that now pays 3% of the amount financed up to a max of $2,500. The source’s wholesale rate is also very competitive. Point is, you can leave money on the table if you’re too lazy to read.
3. The F&I God Complex: Yep, you know exactly where I’m going with this one: Too many F&I professionals expect every single deal to come to their office with a bow wrapped around it. It’s a bad habit and it’s simply not appreciated in the 21st century.
Another facet of this personality is the unwillingness to go the extra mile with staff to make a deal happen. Maybe it’s because it’s heavily “stipped,” or maybe it was turned down for frivolous reasons, such as being overadvanced. Yep, there are finance companies that will decline a deal because of this. In fact, I had one just last week.
The customer had an 800-plus credit score but was $1,800 over the bank’s guidelines. Realizing a deal was about to fall between the cracks, I started digging. I worked the sales manager for more on the trade and price, then back to the finance company, which moved a bit on the customer and only needed about $100 to make the deal work. Luckily, the customer hadn’t bought elsewhere over the weekend and happily came back for the delivery.
Imagine what the outcome would’ve been had we let it sit in the dead deal file another day or two. Yup, the competition down the street would’ve cashed in on our hard yet unfinished work.
Listen, I’m no saint. I have been offensive to co-workers because I wanted things to be absolutely perfect — to the point of wadding up their deals and throwing them into the hallway because of simple mistakes. I know you’ve never done anything that bad, but I have, and I was wrong. So take note and cut those salespeople some slack.
Look, no matter how good you become at this job, there will always be room for improvement. My challenge to you this month is to take a step back, look at everything you do, and then determine how you can improve. Even if it’s just the smallest of things, take the time to implement change to get better.
Good luck and keep closing.
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga. Email him at [email protected].