From his days as a full-time, ordained minister to a second career as one of the nation’s leading F&I trainers, Rick McCormick has succeeded by always doing “the right thing the right way.” Agent Entrepreneur sat down with McCormick to learn more about his life and career and the moment he fell in love with the automotive industry.
How did you get your start in the auto industry and why did you specialize as a trainer?
I came from a diverse background and entered the auto industry almost 16 years ago. I served as an ordained minister full-time for 20 years, and for most of those years, I worked another “full-time” job to afford to be able to do that! I always gravitated to selling and/or training in each position. After multiple family moves, we determined in order to stay in one place long-term and I would serve in ministry part time and then find stable employment.
So I walked into a car dealership to find a temporary position. I fell in love with the challenge of helping customers. Then I was provided the opportunity to move into the F&I office. This story resonates with so many others I have met around the country. It’s easy to get into this business. And once you do, you fall in love with helping people and knowing the more you do, the more money you make! So I have been on this “temporary” job for 16 years now.
After spending five years in the F&I office, the only thing I could think of that would be more enjoyable would be helping others develop their skills and being part of their success. After a timely meeting with Ron Reahard, I knew not only that training was a place I wanted to serve but the core principles of his perspective on this business were aligned with mine. Simply put, always do the right thing the right way. I have had the privilege of working across the country with F&I managers to assist them in growing their skills and abilities, and I have seen many grow to places of influence and income levels they never thought possible. Nothing could be more fun than that!
What areas in F&I do you focus on with your training?
The focus is on results and growth. In the results arena, all a dealer has to do is look at the financial statement each month to see if the training is having an effect. However, placing the emphasis on results alone is not conducive to a long-term growth trend. The month-to-month activities of an F&I manager putting forth consistent efforts to increase skill sets and abilities will determine the results.
Focusing our efforts on their growth as a professional increases their product knowledge and confidence levels. Those are the roots that deliver a flourishing professional who offers a customer focused and comfortable process, making it easy for customers to buy the products available. The F&I process must add value to the customer’s purchase experience. It should be based on a needs-based approach that positions the F&I manager as a trusted advisor who provides consistent results. We work extensively to build that kind of process and that kind of F&I manager.
Why should an agent call you for a training assignment?
We become a trusted partner in the agent’s success. We are uniquely positioned in the industry because we don’t sell any F&I products. So we have the same agenda as our clients: to help F&I managers help more customers. This has allowed Reahard & Associates to work with agents, finance companies, product vendors, vehicle manufacturers, dealer associations and individual dealers, as well as some of the largest dealer groups in the country. We provide cutting-edge techniques and a growth-based effort that will make each F&I professional more effective.
What are the top three messages you try to give at each of your training sessions?
First, we challenge F&I professionals to work on developing and improving their individual skills. Great F&I professionals consistently look for areas where they can improve. You never graduate from the school of growth. My goal is to ensure that every training session is a growth session.
Second, we work to ensure a consistent process is used that builds trust with every customer. Techniques that don’t build trust must be altered. The level of profit and customer satisfaction rise and fall on the level of trust built with each customer.
Finally, each F&I professional should be a team builder. F&I managers are in a strategic position and have been entrusted with the opportunity to interact with almost every part of the dealership experience. We work on their interaction with other departments and how to positively impact the overall process in the store. Great F&I managers help build great teams!
What changes in the industry do you foresee that will impact your training the most over the next few years?
A huge shift will come from more of the selling process moving to an online format. We must embrace the technology that can provide a quicker and more efficient process. Embracing technology necessitates we engage the customer online with F&I information concerning financing, products, and pricing. We are developing tools to enable this transition as we speak.
However, the products must still be sold and the customer’s need for them must still be uncovered. As a result, the focus will continue to be helping the customer get the products they need and the financing that is most beneficial for them. Customers have always driven change in our methods. We will lead F&I managers to embrace the change and continue growing their skills.
Tell us about yourself and the kind of activities, hobbies, interests you pursue outside of training.
My free time is spent with my family. From the patient wife who embraces my frequent travel to pursue my passion to the five grandchildren who challenge me for more ways to have fun with them. Whatever interests them, interests me! My most enduring memories have come from time with them. I also enjoy reading autobiographies and personal growth books. And if the Atlanta Braves are televised or the Tennessee Volunteers football team is winning, I can probably be found in front of the big screen watching.
This industry has been good to me and provides great opportunities daily. And when I come home, I have a great family to spend time with. What else could a man ask for? Here’s to a great finish to the year!