This month’s question comes via email from an unhappy F&I manager who needs to remain anonymous. He writes: “After the best month I ever had, my reward was another pay cut. I’ve been here four years. They’ve cut my pay three times. I’m ready to quit and find a dealer who won’t change my pay plan every time I have a good month. Any suggestions?”
Yes. Don’t quit! Because wherever you go, it could happen there too.
"Unfortunately, when an F&I manager is making $30,000 a month and the GM — who has to manage 50 employees in multiple departments and is responsible for overall dealership profitability — is only making $25,000 a month, I can almost guarantee there is going to be a change in that F&I manager’s pay plan."
This is a common frustration. In fact, it’s the No. 1 complaint we get from F&I managers. It’s either “My pay plan is set up so I can’t make any money” or, as in your case, “Every time I start making good money, they change my pay plan.”
When I was an F&I manager, I always said, “You can call my mother names and spit on my blue suede shoes, but when you mess with my pay plan, that really ticks me off!”
To an F&I professional, changing someone’s pay plan when they’re doing an excellent job seems both counterintuitive and counterproductive. I mean, if someone is making $15,000 for generating $100,000 in F&I income, why would you not want them to make $30,000 if they generate $200,000 in F&I income? The dealership is making a lot more money, right?
No matter how big or small the dealership, an F&I manager’s income should depend primarily on the amount of income he or she generates. Unfortunately, when an F&I manager is making $30,000 a month and the GM — who has to manage 50 employees in multiple departments and is responsible for overall dealership profitability — is only making $25,000 a month, I can almost guarantee there is going to be a change in that F&I manager’s pay plan.
In “The Little Red Book of Selling,” Jeffrey Gitomer writes, “Sales can be the lowest paying, easiest job you can ever have, or it can be the highest paying, hardest working job you can have.” While it is possible to make an extremely good living as an F&I manager, expect to work hard for it every day of your career. As your skills improve and you start achieving higher performance and income levels, the reality is that virtually every dealer is going to move the goal posts.
Football goal posts were originally located on the goal lines. In 1974, the National Football League moved the goal posts to the back of the end zone, instantly turning a 30-yard field goal into a 40-yard field goal. Then in 2015, trying to add a little more drama to kicking extra points, the NFL moved the snap of the football from the two-yard line to the 15-yard line.
Overnight, that virtually automatic 20-yard kick for an extra point became a much more difficult 33-yarder. Yet NFL kickers didn’t get a pay raise because of the increase in difficulty. They might not have liked the extra point being moved back to the 15-yard line, but it accomplished the NFL’s goal. As for kickers, their success rate on extra points dropped from 99.3% in 2014 to 94.2% in 2015.
An NFL kicker’s income is based on their accuracy. This change, which demanded a longer, more difficult kick, could have easily cost them hundreds of thousands of dollars in performance incentives — possibly even their job. Yet none of them quit. The NFL owners make the rules, and they determined kicking extra points had become too easy.
A good F&I pay plan compensates an F&I manager based upon his or her productivity. A great pay plan motivates managers to excel and ensures continuous improvement in F&I productivity and profits. It also reinforces the dealership’s goals and objectives. However, goals, objectives, and expectations can and do change over time.
When a dealer determines that maxing out your pay plan has become too easy, your compensation plan will change. While no manager is going to be happy about it, F&I professionals are always going to figure out how to maximize their income under the dealer’s increased performance levels. If you view higher performance levels as a pay cut, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you view it as an opportunity to grow as a professional, you can increase your income and advance your career. It’s your choice.
If you would like a copy of a performance-based pay plan, have a question you would like answered or an objection you struggle with, call or email me. Because it’s a beautiful day to help a customer, or an F&I manager!
Got a question or objection for Ron? Use your mobile phone to record a brief video (shot landscape style!) of your question and upload it to go-reahard.com/ask-ron.
President of Reahard & Associates