Part of the 11-store, California-based Hoehn Motors Co., Hoehn Carlsbad Buick GMC Cadillac is putting up F&I numbers behind a unified front end led by General Manager Jerry Brummet and group F&I Director Josh Sherman. They declined to share the store’s per-copy averages, but did say their two-person F&I team averaged more than two products for much of the summer and more than three in August.
Brummet joined the GM dealership in 2011 after working at the group’s Porsche and Mercedes-Benz stores. He says he brought a highline mentality with him, noting, “I get cars by the truckloads, but I get customers one at a time.” It’s a philosophy that has the store’s CSI score sitting at 98.5% and contributed to the group earning eight consecutive “Best Dealership” awards from readers of Ranch & Coast magazine.
The secret to his dealership’s success is communication — with customers and between the sales and F&I teams. “We try to manage upfront so we don’t create a CSI issue for the whole dealership,” Brummet says. “We slow it down and make the customer aware of where they are in the process. It’s about managing expectations.”
The process starts with a pre-interview conducted on the show floor by an F&I manager. They have three goals: Put a key player in front of the customer as early as possible, explain the documentation and titling process, and ask key “trigger” questions that will set the tone for the rest of the transaction.
“I want to make sure we have all the proper information,” Brummet says, adding that customers aren’t allowed to enter the F&I office without the initial interview. “It also starts that open conversation and allows my F&I managers to start loading the menu in preparation for the customer’s transition from sales.”
Once the commitment is made, an email notifies Brummet and the F&I team that a deal is ready for F&I. The next free F&I manager takes the deal, and Brummet will sometimes use the opportunity to introduce himself to the customer and keep them occupied if they have to wait. Meanwhile, a sales-and-finance checklist keeps both teams on track. If something slips through the cracks, the F&I team has the authority to hand the deal back to the sales manager to get it corrected.
The F&I process begins with a second discovery interview designed to confirm all the information collected by sales. It also serves to remind the customer about the items discussed during the initial interview, which sets up the menu presentation.
The F&I team also has a compliance checklist to complete. Brummet inspects every deal before it can be sent to the business office for processing, which happens the same day an agreement is finalized. Within three days, the deal is sent back to Brummet for a second audit before it is sent back to the F&I office, where deals are randomly inspected a third time.
F&I managers will also conduct a funding audit against the internal deal record in order to identify any reductions in finance reserve. Any changes are logged in a spreadsheet that is emailed to managers and owners on a weekly basis.
To become an F&I manager at Hoehn Motors dealership, candidates must have worked in another area within the organization and attended “Hoehn University.” The eight-week course, which is led by general managers from each of the group’s locations, addresses a number of topics related to ethics and compliance.
New F&I managers are also required to complete a full week of training offered by Resource Automotive, the group’s F&I product provider. That company also heads up the group’s semiannual compliance training program and completes an annual review of the group’s processes and documentation.
Owner Bill Hoehn also prioritize serving the local community, whether it’s supplying Thanksgiving dinners and school supplies to students at the nearby elementary school, organizing a group of employees to serve dinner to families at the Ronald McDonald House, or taking a group to employees to Rosarito, Mexico, to build houses for the organization’s annual Come Build a Hope program. Spearheading those efforts is Roy Inzunza, the group’s corporate chaplain, who also provides counseling and support services to employees.