Great managers recruit and develop talent ahead of need. They also know the value of a well thought-out and implemented onboarding process. - IMAGE: Getty Images

Great managers recruit and develop talent ahead of need. They also know the value of a well thought-out and implemented onboarding process.

IMAGE: Getty Images

The dealership needs an F&I manager, or maybe two. No problem, right? There are several candidates within the dealership that have been identified as having the potential and competencies to move up in the organization. Based on the time and resources the dealership has allocated to developing a career path for these individuals, the GM knows exactly who is ready for the opportunity and who has the highest probability to succeed. No? Well, that’s how it works at Eutopia Motors. 

Unfortunately, many dealership GMs and department managers do not recruit, evaluate, and develop talent ahead of need. When presented with an F&I position or multiple positions to fill, there isn’t a culture of next teammate up because the time and resources needed to develop internal candidates wasn’t a priority until now. 

In this situation, the dealership must either hire someone away from a competitor, find someone outside the organization who happens to be looking for a new opportunity, or promote a candidate from the sales team who may or not be the right person for the job. Urgency goes way up, because the longer it takes to fill the position, the more it costs in lost revenue and eroding morale because of scheduling issues and heavy workloads for the other F&I mangers. It gets worse. In this scenario, when urgency in hiring increases, poor hiring decisions increase as well. 

Let’s say the dealership gets lucky. They either find the perfect candidate looking for a new opportunity or they have the perfect internal candidate for the open F&I manager position. A happy ending to a sad story, right? Maybe. Research tells us that how this story ends will largely be determined by the dealership’s onboarding process. Good process, good result. Bad process, bad result. 

A strange tradition in the car business is that it is not uncommon for dealership management to have a “welcome to the jungle…may the strong survive “mentality when it comes to bringing a new person into the dealership or promoting a person into a new role like F&I. Once the new hire or candidate is finished with HR, it’s up to them to figure out the ins and outs of the new role.  

In F&I, letting the experienced or inexperienced F&I manager figure it out isn’t setting them up for success. In fact, many times this type onboarding process, or lack thereof, feels more like walking the plank than onboarding.

Finding talented people to work in the dealership is difficult, time consuming, and expensive. If you’re a GM or department manager, take some time to evaluate your team, focusing on the competencies and skillsets needed to move up into a dealership management position, especially F&I. If you have identified a candidate, consider what they will need from a development and skillset perspective to succeed based on your F&I manager job description and a list of desired competencies. Now you have a foundation to start putting together an onboarding plan. What you will find over time is the best onboarding processes for the F&I role are customized to the specific candidate.

Everyone is different. Some will pick up the technology quickly, some might take a little longer. Some may have strong organizational skills and can handle the administrative weight of the role, and others may need to rely more heavily on checklists. You get the picture. Knowing the gaps going in can make all of the difference. The point is to have a plan and a process to onboard each candidate into their role that sets them up for success. Time is a consideration as well. 

When promoting someone into the F&I role be sure your onboarding process allows enough time for the candidate to assimilate into the flow of F&I. If possible, send them to an F&I management certification course prior to stepping into the role. This should give the candidate a foundation in compliance and process. Allow them to load the deals that aren’t time sensitive. Give them enough time to learn about and understand the products they will be offering the customer. These things take an investment of time on behalf of the candidate to learn, and an investment of time of the GM or F&I director to drive the accountability needed make the process effective and efficient as possible.

Great managers recruit and develop talent ahead of need. They also know the value of a well thought out and implemented onboarding process.