Fear causes F&I managers to react in the moment when obstacles appear. True professionals process before reacting.  - Illustration by nadia_bormotova via Getty Images

Fear causes F&I managers to react in the moment when obstacles appear. True professionals process before reacting.

Illustration by nadia_bormotova via Getty Images

Being an F&I manager is not just about delivering vehicles. Being an F&I manager is about living a philosophy that prepares you for moments when your reaction is the difference between deal or no deal. The top pro will flourish and find their happy place even when the worst happens.

Every vehicle opportunity, both simulated and real, will have a better outcome if F&I managers are able to open up their field of input to receive all the information coming in — which is contrary to natural human instinct.

Read: 10 Secrets of Successful F&I Managers

That Tunnel Vision

In stressful situations, human beings narrow their focus and often block out other important information. This is the very definition of tunnel vision. It’s dark and focused, but you are only seeing one beam of light. 

The professional F&I manager learns to take a deep breath before reacting, which allows the tunnel to open, letting in more light, which triggers the proper sequence to begin.

Silence the alarm. Let the information in, understand, and then react. It can be done in the time it takes to cycle a deep breath. Breathe in as you take in the information; breathe out as you start your reaction.

F&I professionals must achieve situational awareness in all aspects of their lives.

You should do this for all aspects of your life, not just in an emergency. Before you ever walk out of your house, consciously take a deep breath, and then begin.

Professional F&I managers do not react in the moment. This doesn’t mean they are not concerned. It means they are processing. Fear is not in their sequence.

When the moment is over, that’s when they allow the adrenaline to course through their body as their mind reviews how close they came to allowing emotions overcoming processes. Having this ability to absorb and process information isn’t just for the F&I managers office and it can’t stop once you drive away from the work. F&I professionals must achieve situational awareness in all aspects of their lives.

Notice the Nuances

Simply living a life in which you consciously absorb the environment around you will reflexively make you a better F&I professional. Being present in the moment takes effort. You must step your mind up one level from seeing to observing.

Notice the nuances. After a while, it becomes reflexive so as you are penciled another “interesting” deal, you breathe in the information and then breathe out the pressure.

F&I professionals notice the little things that were not there yesterday. They notice that their team didn’t get enough sleep last night. So maybe a little more diligence with CRM is on the agenda today.

F&I professionals will acknowledge their spouse is having a bad day — and they’ll also know there is nothing they can do about it except listen. To absorb and understand before we react is a learned talent. They know they do not have all the right answers, so they don’t attempt to make one up.

Most importantly, the F&I professional will know how to look their boss in the eye, smile, and say “No” if it’s not good enough. Master your craft. Achieve to be a top F&I professional.

G.P. Anderson is finance director of Thielen Motors Chevrolet Buick in Park Rapids, Minn., and a 30-year industry veteran. He is ACE- and AFIP-certified, a 2008 F&I Pacesetter and winner of the inaugural 2011 F&Idol contest. Email him at [email protected]

Read: Mid-Level F&I Managers Need Advanced Training

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