“Chopped” is a Food Network fan favorite for which chefs compete by cooking three-course meals. The twist? Each course must include ingredients from a mystery box. This leads to delightful creations as chefs struggle with incorporating things like Animal Crackers and seaweed. It would be easy if all the best ingredients were available. That’s the beauty of what they create, and the results range from amazing to catastrophic.
Now, transport your thoughts to creating a successful F&I department in dealerships today. General agents are in a unique position to evaluate the ingredients currently being utilized and, if the results are less than desired, determine the different ones that need to be introduced. F&I managers don’t have the luxury of only seeing the best customers, just as general agents rarely find dealership partners that have everything in place for ultimate success. We all must be like the chefs on “Chopped” and utilize the three ingredients that create champions.The most important ingredient is the ability to adapt and change to the current set of challenges. Many F&I departments are still utilizing an old-school step-selling process that relies heavily on talking customers into buying products. However, the customer has moved on. They are researching online the many facets of buying a vehicle, including F&I products, to learn what they do and what they should cost.
We must provide a process that builds trust and one that customers enjoy. It must build upon the level of knowledge that each customer arrives with, not duplicate it. Our mindset must change to one that recognizes it no longer matters what I think about the process, but what does the customer think, and how I can adjust.The next ingredient is a healthy dose of practice. How do you take seaweed and Animal Crackers and create a delicious dish? Practice! Just like the “Chopped” chefs, the challenges they face are ones they have prepared for in advance. You play like you practice.
The most successful F&I professionals I know regularly read, research, and practice their craft. They don’t want to face a challenge for the first time in front of a customer. So they create challenging customer objections and practice their responses before they see the customer. Regular and challenging practice is a key ingredient to making each day a masterpiece. Leave out this ingredient and the taste of the results will be bland and disappointing.The third ingredient is a structured, consistent process. True freedom to be creative with customers lives inside of structure. Pilots meticulously run through preflight checklists. Pro baseball players develop rituals to help them hit more consistently. Chefs consistently adhere to time-tested recipes. Why should it be different inside the F&I office?
Highly successful F&I professionals have a process they follow, and it’s one they follow every time. Structure creates the freedom to act authentically and to create true connections with customers. While the time with each customer may be customized to their needs, the foundation of a consistent process will ensure that every customer has the opportunity to maximize their ownership experience with the products we offer.
We place a high level of importance on getting the right people in place. However, what are we using to determine who is right? Past production levels alone are not enough. Does this individual have the ability and desire to change? Do they adhere to consistent efforts to improve regardless of the level of their current production? And, do they have a consistency in their process that eliminates taking shortcuts and pre-judging customers? Those three ingredients will create great levels of success.
Successful general agents increase their value to their dealers by identifying the current ingredients available and by introducing new ones as needed. We all must deal with less than ideal ingredients when introduced to a challenge. Like the chefs on “Chopped,” we too are judged by what we eventually create. Here’s to creating great success recipes in 2018!
I look forward to seeing you on my next post. Visit www.go-reahard.com to learn more about how we can help you help more customers. Also feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas that get results is my passion!