Experienced F&I managers know that dealership operating systems and menu applications come and go, so they adapt.  -  IMAGE: Getty Images

Experienced F&I managers know that dealership operating systems and menu applications come and go, so they adapt.

IMAGE: Getty Images

At one time or another, every F&I manager has experienced frustration with technology, especially when learning how to use a new system or application in the F&I office.

As it turns out, there are levels or categories of adoption when it comes to technological innovation. They are: innovators, early adopters, early and late majority, and laggards. Innovators are the ones who develop the new application or system and, therefore, are the first to use it. These are followed by the early adopters. If you have ever stood in line to purchase a new smart phone on the release date, chances are you would fall into this category.

Most of us fall into the early and late majority categories. We aren’t the first to adopt a new technology, but we aren’t the last either — that distinction belongs to the laggards. Laggard isn’t a term you hear every day. I don’t think I would want to be in the laggard category when it comes to technology, but to those of you who are, I admire your conviction.  

What does this have to do with F&I? The F&I manager is the person in the dealership that must utilize multiple systems to facilitate the delivery of each transaction, and they must master the user interface of each quickly and efficiently. Experienced F&I managers know that dealership operating systems and menu applications come and go, so they adapt. They don’t like it, but they do it.

New F&I managers do not have previous experience to lean on and can find the technology learning curve challenging. If you are new to the role or are being groomed for the role of F&I manager, I would highly recommend becoming an early adopter. Becoming proficient with each system interface is necessary to deliver a deal prior to having to face a customer, and it can give you a huge advantage transitioning into the F&I role. 

Experience leads to proficiency. Proficiency leads to confidence. Confidence leads to credibility. And confidence and credibility lead to success in the F&I office. 

If you are new to F&I, take the time and make the effort to get ready, so you can be ready for that first delivery. To do that, you will need to understand how each system operates and how each system interacts with other systems, or in many situations, unfortunately, how they don’t. This will involve online tutorials, webinars, asking a lot of questions, observation, and trial and error. 

There isn’t an easy way to do this, but full immersion and a willingness to dive in will accelerate the process. Take notes, and if step by step instructions aren’t available or are difficult to follow, write out your own. Load every deal available to you so you can put into practice what you are learning. Utilize checklists and crosscheck your work. The more comfortable you are entering a deal into these systems, the better. 

I recently saw a poster in an office that read “Never let a computer know you are in a hurry. They can smell fear.” Funny, but we have all have been in a situation when we are under a time crunch and a system doesn’t operate the way we expect, or we make an entry error that causes a delay or interrupts the flow of a deal — frustrating to be sure. I am pretty sure that computers can’t actually smell fear or sense frustration, but I am certain your customers can. 

Working through a smart discovery with the customer, disclosing the menu, gaining commitment, and meeting performance objectives can be challenging for a new F&I manager. Exacerbating the situation by adding the stress that can come with not being proficient in loading a deal, managing system issues, or printing or creating e-docs for customer signature is a recipe for a quick “no thank you” and a poor customer experience. 

In F&I, early adopters succeed more quickly.  And what about the laggards? Not to worry, they probably quit reading this article after the second paragraph.

3 Tips to Accelerate Technology Adoption in F&I

  1. Don’t learn the user interface with a customer in front of you. That is expensive training!
  2. Be proactive in your learning, look for opportunities to load a deal without a time crunch so you can go at your own pace.
  3. Take advantage of every resource. Vendors, online learning, product providers and if they are willing and available, experienced F&I managers.