Robert Fulghum published “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten” in 1986. The bestseller contained lessons learned in an average kindergarten classroom that could be applied in life as adults. Some of these simple lessons included sharing, being kind to one another, and cleaning up after yourself.
I entered law school late in life, and I appreciated the week of orientation to get myself ready. I learned three points in orientation that I think can be applied to the car business.
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1. It’s Not About the Numbers.
Law school couldn’t be just about grades. Most students came from the top 10% of their graduating class. Since almost everyone was an overachiever in the past, the competition could be intense. Some students could spend too much time trying to get the best scores and beat themselves up for no longer being the best.
The car business is similar. Our success can’t be just about numbers. Sales can’t be just the number of cars delivered; it includes CSI. Service can’t be just about the number of ROs closed; it includes balancing customer-pay with warranty work. The same holds true for F&I.
It doesn’t matter how high the PVR is if the contract can’t be funded.
Many F&I producers think it’s all about the PVR or product penetration. Those are key pieces, but taking care of all the compliance issues and having a cashable contract are also important.
It doesn’t matter how high the PVR is if the contract can’t be funded. A good F&I manager is well rounded, not necessarily the highest producer.
2. Knowledge and Experience Count.
The only grade for each law school class was the final exam, and all the scores from that final had to average to a B. That meant very few overachievers could make an A. It wasn’t about the score anymore; it was about knowledge and experience.
The car business should be the same. Numbers can’t be the only thing that matters; it should be about applying knowledge and experience.
How do we gain that? Use your resources.
It’s not about memorizing answers for a test. Learn the material. Read product contracts and understand the “why” behind the coverage. Learn about compliance; don’t be satisfied to just check boxes on a checklist.
Use the people around you. Role-play, watch YouTube presentations to hone your craft, and ask for help. Take every opportunity to gain knowledge and experience.
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3. Your Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset.
It didn’t take law school orientation to let me know some lawyers have bad reputations. Some start their shenanigans in law school by being a “gunner.” They think only of themselves, play head games with others, and try to sabotage everyone around them to make them feel better about themselves.
The car business’ reputation isn’t much better. It seemed like every other case we read my first year was about a bad dealership. The “techniques” many of us were taught when we first started our careers are felonies.
It can be scary to stand your ground and do what’s right, but you have to.
Thankfully, not everyone listened to those bad lessons. We don’t need leg to make money. We don’t need to “find someone in service” and forge a signature. Don’t tolerate bad people in our industry. TSA’s motto works for our industry: “If you see something, say something.”
It can be scary to stand your ground and do what’s right, but you have to. Your character and your reputation matter.
Make your job more than about the numbers, apply your knowledge and experience, and earn the right to have a great reputation. Do your job and do it well.
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