As an F&I professional, you have many responsibilities. The expectation is that you will handle all of them with a great attitude while displaying a willing and supportive professional demeanor.
Easier said than done, right?
I spend a lot of time with F&I managers. I listen to the complaints about hours, pay, salespeople, management, administration, technology, and lack of customers.
I let them vent and then ask them a question a very wise, successful, and disciplined dealer once asked me when I complained about my sales department brining deals to the F&I office with missing information. He looked me right in the eye and asked, “What are you going to do about it?”
I wasn’t sure what he meant. And it must have shown on my face, because he said, “John, in life, as in business, you get what you tolerate.”
That really had an impact on me.
A Little Less Conversation
That dealer went on to give me a little tough love. “You complain about it, but that seems to be all you’re doing,” he said. “You should teach them how you want the deals to come into your office and quit complaining about it.”
How often do you participate in the sales and training meetings in your dealership? What impact could you have by training on a process or a product? What about sharing some closing techniques you have learned along the way? Or maybe how to properly handle customer concerns or objections?
My excuse at the time was, “I’m not a trainer.” The dealer’s response was, “If you want things to change, you might want to become one.”
So I jumped in with both feet and asked the GM if I could have some time at the next sales meeting to train on how deals should be organized before they get to F&I. I did the research, wrote out what I wanted to say, kept it upbeat, and asked questions of the audience. And what happened? You guessed it: nothing.
The first rule of training is that it’s not a one-time thing. It’s an all-the-time thing. That leaves us with two choices. We can either complain or teach. I recommend teach.
There are too many benefits to you and your team not to do it. Ask to be given some time once a week, every week, to train on a topic. Prepare. Don’t wing it. With preparation and consistency, you raise the bar for the entire front end.
Training Made Easy
If you’re having trouble getting started, one of the best techniques I learned early in my career is one credited to Aristotle, who has been referred to as the “father of Western philosophy.” A pretty smart guy, Aristotle.
He was the first to be credited with using a “triptych” (from the Greek, meaning composed or presented in three parts) to teach. Instructors everywhere, including the U.S. Army, still use it today. The three parts to your F&I training triptych are:
• Tell them what you are going to tell them: “Today I am going to share some ideas on how you can shorten the wait time for your customers to get into F&I after they have agreed to buy.”
• Tell them: “These simple steps can make a significant impact in speeding up the F&I process as well as improving CSI.”
• Tell them what you told them: “To review, the three things you can do are …”
You can do it. Complaining doesn’t change anything, but taking positive action can. And who knows? Maybe that one salesperson who is always bringing you incomplete deals might just start doing things the way you want him to.
John Tabar is director of training for United Development Systems Inc. (UDS). Email him at [email protected].