Psychology Today defines burnout as “a state of chronic stress.” To be fair, we work in a 30-day cycle, hero-to-zero selling environment. We are under constant pressure to hit an objective, maintain an acceptable PPR and PVR, and not make any mistakes — stressful to be sure.
I read recently that 35% of all F&I managers quit each year. Some seek greener grass at the store down the street. But many others simply burn out, choosing to go back to sales or start another career. Before this happens to you, let’s discuss the common signs of F&I burnout and three proven ways to treat it.
How to Spot F&I Burnout
The early-warning signs are the same for burnout as they are for the dreaded greener grass disease, as is the biggest red flag of all: Your performance is poor and your production is dropping.
Your first reflex is to tell yourself it isn’t your fault; it’s the sales department’s fault. And by the way, management doesn’t know what they’re doing, there isn’t enough business, we’re getting way too many cash deals, and the weather has been bad for the last three months!
These rationalizations for burnout and greener grass disease are usually followed by the notion that all would be well and perfect if you could just change your geography. You are certain that working at the dealership down the street would solve all these issues.
The unfortunate truth is that changing geography hardly ever cures F&I burnout and is at best a palliative treatment for greener grass disease. It is very likely that all the factors you currently blame your poor attitude and performance on await you at your next destination.
I understand that there are times when you may find yourself in the wrong situation and a change is a good move. However, if burnout is the motivation, it begs a question: Is it better to make a change when you have the positive momentum of an upward trend in both performance metrics and attitude, or do you make a move when both are trending down?
If you are trending down, you may want to examine the cause of your burnout and look for ways to lessen your state of chronic stress before you change dealerships.
How to Treat F&I Burnout
Here is a three-step procedure that will treat and hopefully cure burnout:
1. Get rid of that negative dialogue going on inside your head. Those negative thoughts only support failure. They never nurture success. So don’t let them take root.
Instead, try reminding yourself why you wanted to become an F&I manager in the first place. Like many of us, you probably wanted the job to advance your career and increase your income.
Has anything changed?
If not, reset your inner dialogue to a positive one by setting some new goals with new deadlines.
2. Clean your office. Out with the old and in with the new — including your attitude! There is something about clearing all the old, unused, nonessential detritus out of your office that fosters a positive and more optimistic attitude. It is amazing how the physical activity of cleaning your office can also cleanse the mind of negative thoughts.
3. Make a list. Once your office is clean, take out a piece of paper and write down all the things that you would like to change about your job, those you work with, and your current situation.
Now comes the hard part: Look at your list and really think about each item as objectively as you possibly can. Common items that may appear on that list could be a constant stream of incomplete deals, lack of accountability, untrained salespeople and sales managers, scheduling, and income and deal distribution, to name a few.
Put a checkmark by all the things on the list that could influence positively — even if only slightly — if you put your mind to it and acted instead of stressing.
Now cross out those items you can’t do anything about. Hopefully the things you can influence outnumber those you can’t.
You now have a new to-do list that will help you get back on track, gain positive momentum, and protect you from burnout and greener grass disease. Prioritize your list, set some goals, and go to work.
And remember, things won’t change overnight. It will take some time. Keep working on it. You will be amazed at the incremental stress reduction that comes from taking action and positively influencing your situation. You may find the grass getting greener right where you are.
John Tabar is director of training for United Development Systems Inc. (UDS). Email him at [email protected].
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