Like any line of work, F&I isn’t for everyone. I’ve met some really great people during the decades I’ve been doing this, and I can truly say that some of them aren’t cut out for the job. In order to be successful and soar high where the eagles fly, a person must have a made-up mind, nerves of steel, and the mental resolve to deal with the obstacles constantly thrown at them.
Most of those obstacles can be overcome and some can’t. Professionals have spent enough time training themselves to quickly determine the difference.
Unfortunately, there are people occupying the F&I chair who do just enough to keep their job, never realizing how important a wide-angle view of their surroundings can benefit them.
"But I can also tell you that one look at most of their numbers and even an old dog like me realized I need to up my game and sharpen those old rusty knives. I say that because some of these kids are getting the job done in spite of the crap they’re having to clean up every day."
I sometimes stop to read comments posted on social media about working conditions and the latest grousing about how tough the job is. Well, if you haven’t discovered how tough life can be in the box after a few years doing it, then you’ve either broken through the barriers that hold others back or you’ve taken on the flea-in-the-jar mentality.
I hope it’s the former and not the latter.
I’ve written about all the obstacles that get in our way plenty of times. They’re the same things that go on in every dealership. And you know, even I get caught up believing my store has unique problems with staff, botched “turnovers,” and all the other things that drive F&I managers mad. But it’s everywhere.
I just returned from a corporatewide F&I meeting a few weeks ago. I got to sit down with people who have a wide range of experience, and I can tell you they were sharing tales so very familiar.
But I can also tell you that one look at most of their numbers and even an old dog like me realized I need to up my game and sharpen those old rusty knives. I say that because some of these kids are getting the job done in spite of the crap they’re having to clean up every day.
And that’s the real difference between someone who just comes to work every day viewing F&I as a career rather than a job. In fact, let’s define the two words to identify the exact differences between their meaning.
Let’s start with the word “job,” which entails the following:
- A regular, remunerative position.
- A paid position of regular employment.
- A task or piece of work, especially one that is paid.
- A “career,” on the other hand, can be described as:
- A field for or pursuit of continuous, progressive achievement.
- A profession for which one trains and earns certifications.
- A position which is undertaken as a permanent calling.
I don’t know about you, but for me, the first two phrases that leap off the page are “paid position” vs. “permanent calling.”
You see, job-minded folk view their daily tasks as routine, rarely asking how they might improve. They’re often content with the status quo, which can lead to higher turnover. Yeah, I get that poor working conditions and boorish bosses are good excuses for not investing in oneself. But I’m talking about something far worse. It’s the simple lack of desire to succeed and excel at something other than routine.
On the other hand, career-minded people are usually 360-degree thinkers. They are constantly looking for better ways to do things. And I’m not necessarily talking about employees who have college degrees from Ivy League schools. Nope, I’m talking about the curious critical thinkers who are game-changers in any organization.
In the F&I office, career professionals are easily identified. The numbers tell the tale. Just about any level of job performance and whether or not an individual is career-minded or just warming the chair can be tied to these metrics.
How about you? Is F&I your career or just a job? Do you self-analyze and ask why the customer didn’t buy a service contract when he drives a ton of miles? Why didn’t he buy GAP when he’s down $5,000 on the trade? Why did he get a better rate at his bank? Did you exhaust all sources before giving up or asking for more cash down?
I’ve said before that F&I isn’t for the faint of heart. I will also say the rewards are great for those who are willing to turn over every stone in the pursuit of excellence. The only thing that keeps holding you back is the gray matter between your ears. You can improve and change your mindset if you want — or not. It’s up to you.
Good luck and keep closing.
Marv Eleazer is the F&I director at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, Ga.
Email him at [email protected].