Business is good. Income is at unprecedented levels in sales and in F&I. Some F&I managers tell me that the past 12 months have been the best of their careers. Based on the performance data that I review every week; I’d have to agree.
The problem is this can’t be said for all. If the market is the tide that raises all ships, why isn’t everyone doing better in F&I? When you look at the data, the top 20 percenters seem to be doing exceptionally well, and it appears that they are raising the overall F&I results of many dealerships or dealer groups. This isn’t a new phenomenon; the 20 percenters do this month in and month out.
If you are one of the 20 percenters, this article isn’t intended for you. This article is for the 60 percent in the middle who may be interested in getting into the 20 percent group.
To start, I want you to know I am not going to compare what you do every day to what the 20 percenters do every day. I truly believe that nothing compares to you, but you. Results speak for themselves. What I am going to suggest, however, is most likely the dealership environment you are in could be perfect for keeping you exactly where you are as an F&I professional.
When business is as profitable as it is right now, accountability wanes, the top producers in F&I get celebrated, the low performers get replaced, and the middle, solidly average producers are left alone, stuck in the middle of the pack. Not celebrated, not in fear of being replaced, just consistently average. Now if you are happy there in the middle and are satisfied with the consistency of your professional life in F&I, this article most likely isn’t for you either.
True, there is something to be said about consistency. Knowing what you will produce and what you will earn each month can take the pressure off you and can lead to a certain comfort level in the F&I role. There are two words in the previous sentence that are problematic when it comes to growth — pressure and comfort.
If you aspire to get out middle and into the top 20 percent, you will have to get comfortable being uncomfortable and choose to increase the pressure in your work life by challenging yourself.
Avoiding putting pressure on yourself and being comfortable is like a reverse gear for growth in F&I. Everyone knows that to change your outcomes, you will have to change something you are doing, or in some cases, many things. I think there a lot of F&I managers who realize this at some point in their career and after some self-examination and consideration decide that they want to get out of the middle. They decide to change their process and develop some new habits that have proven successful for others. They have a great attitude about making the changes. Unfortunately, many times it just doesn’t work out. That’s because It takes more than just a good attitude.
Attitude is great, some say it is everything. What I say is that many times action needs to proceed attitude. You can rationalize why you need to change; you can know it is the right thing to do. You can even have a great attitude about it going in. Reality is that once the pain of the change sets in, attitudes can change.
Experience tells us that if we continue with the actions needed to change a habit or process, good things will happen. And once we start to see some results, our attitude gets much better — action proceeding attitude.
Your habits and process determine your outcomes in F&I. To improve, you must do something that is very difficult; you must value the new processes or the new habits more than your old ones. Easier said than done.
Building new habits in F&I doesn’t necessarily get rid of old ones. Don’t let the discomfort of developing a new habit or process cause you to fall back to the old keeping you in the middle. Losing a bad habit takes discipline, self-awareness, and accountability. I would even suggest adding some positive pressure and increased accountability on yourself by sharing the new habits you are trying to develop and the old ones you want to lose with your department leadership. You’ll have some setbacks but don’t let them defeat you. Success in changing a habit or process isn’t linear, keep your eye on the big picture. If you do, you can get unstuck and out of the middle.
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