The day I started in the F&I office changed my life forever. Of course, my income went up; however, that was not the real game-changer for me.
This new position demanded that I commit to growing my skills and increasing my results month after month. I knew commitment to consistent improvement would sharpen my skills, ensure my results would trend upward, and make me more valuable to my customers and my employer.
For the next couple of years, I spent every free minute researching my craft. I also made the mistake of thinking I would learn even more if I worked “bell to bell” every day. All that did was qualify me for a leadership role in the local chapter of Workaholics Anonymous! One day I finally came to my senses and realized I was not enjoying the journey anymore.
I was reminded of that feeling when I recently heard a song that for a previous generation was a New Year’s Eve staple. “Enjoy Yourself (It’s Later Than You Think)” was made famous by Guy Lombardo. Here are some of the lyrics:
You work and work for years and years, you’re always on the go. You never take a minute off, too busy makin’ dough! Someday you say, you’ll have your fun, when you’re a millionaire. Imagine all the fun you’ll have in your old rockin’ chair!
I made some decisions the day I knew F&I wasn’t fun anymore. And as I travel nationwide, I encounter far too many F&I managers who are not having fun anymore. So here are two things I did to put the fun back into my work and make what I do enjoyable again:
1. Develop Meaningful Relationships Along the Way!
This requires an intentional effort that focuses on others over self. Living every day with a knowledge of it’s not all about you enables you to face daily mundane tasks with a deeper purpose in mind. And it makes for some great friendships along the way.
My customer interactions became more focused on helping them than selling them. I developed friendships with some that have endured to this day. They knew they had a friend in the car business.
I started calling my bank representatives just to check in and see how their month was going. I knew about their family and hobbies and they knew about mine. Knowing that I was also an ordained minister, one rep asked if I could conduct his father’s funeral, since the family had no one else to turn to. It takes time and genuine interest to develop that type of relationship.
2. Prioritize and Guard Time With Family!
Working late nights and Saturdays puts a real strain on our relationships with those we care about most. Unfortunately, it is a reality of the profession we have chosen. We must deliberately and regularly disconnect, rest, and enjoy our families and friends.
Schedule time away from the dealership each and every month. Be intentional with your time off. If you are asked to forgo your day off during the last week of your busiest month, that can and should be offset with an extra day off during slow time.
F&I managers (and dealers!) who drive a nonstop work mentality will experience regular and frequent employee exits from the F&I office and the dealership.
The F&I opportunity is life changing. Your growth as a person, as a professional, and the income you earn as a result can be transformational. So take time to grow your skills, which will increase your results, allowing you to have an F&I career (and income!) that will be a blessing to you and your loved ones.
And by the way, be sure and enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think!