ORLANDO, Fla. — Prince Automotive Group of Tifton, Ga., was named 2018 F&I Dealer of the Year by F&I and Showroom magazine at last month’s Industry Summit in Orlando, Fla. Prince emerged victorious from a field of seven 2018 F&I Pacesetters, all recognized for their adherence to ethical and compliant F&I operations and dedication to their communities.
Prince employs seven finance professionals in its six Georgia rooftops, including stores in Tifton, Valdosta, Douglas, and Albany. The group was nominated by their F&I products provider, American Financial & Automotive Services, and represented at the event by Vice President Jay Prince and F&I Director Brad Richardson.
Jay Prince said he was largely unfamiliar with the F&I Pacesetters and Dealer of the Year program but saw completing the nomination process as an opportunity to express and reinforce the group’s commitment to F&I and a high level of professionalism throughout its operations. When they learned Prince Automotive Group had been named a 2018 Pacesetter, Prince and Richardson made plans to travel to Orlando, but Prince said he kept his expectations in check.
“I didn’t know who else was nominated until I went down to Industry Summit and they read a short history of their stores. I turned to Brad and said, ‘We sure were lucky to be nominated. We’re never going to win this thing.’”
In brief remarks, Prince thanked the industry, the group’s employees, and American Financial, and expressed his admiration for his fellow Pacesetters: Bob Moore Buick GMC of Oklahoma City, Zumbrota (Minn.) Ford, Hoehn Carlsbad (Calif.) Buick GMC Cadillac, Austin, Texas-based Nyle Maxwell Family of Dealerships, Cecil Atkission Motors of Kernville (Texas), and Bob Moore Subaru of Oklahoma City.
After the event concluded on Wednesday, Oct. 10, in the midst of Hurricane Michael, Prince and Richardson got straight to the business of severe weather response; each of the group’s stores would be closed all day Thursday.
“Once everything got back to normal, we shared the news with those folks who had not seen it,” Prince said. “Certainly the other team members are excited about the honor and recognition. I said, ‘This is a national award. To win that is amazing.'
“It says a lot about our professionalism,” he added. “We try to be professionals in what we do. F&I is so much more than just selling, in today’s world. It’s compliance-based. … F&I managers have to take responsibility for the dealership.”