As agents, we all come from different backgrounds. Nevertheless, whether one had extensive retail experience or not, our dealers do expect real results from us. F&I training and development is the price of admission.
Agents are expected to provide off-site classroom-style training that will produce a learning environment — and, ultimately, generate results. This in-classroom training must spill over to one-on-one in-store coaching. This is when information acquired in a classroom will be solidified. Only then will it produce real behavioral changes.
All of this is expected, and many agents have been doing it for years. But in today’s competitive world, you have to deliver beyond the dealer’s expectations. Let’s take a look at three strategies you can utilize to improve your influence and go beyond F&I training.
F&I Is a Team Sport.
Customers are being exposed to F&I well before they arrive at a dealership. By now, you’ve heard all of the boring stats about it, you’ve seen all the technology widgets, and you may have experienced empty promises of some magical software. Good, bad, or indifferent, it is true: Customers are curious about financing and protection options while they are shopping for their new vehicle.
What does this mean to you? Well, if you are not involved in training salespeople or BDC personnel, you are missing out on an opportunity to win big. Get on the same frequency with your dealer and figure out a way to influence all who are involved in those early conversations with customers.
You must know what their process looks and sounds like. Do not approach it as if you are simply trying to be in the know; rather, look for ways to steer them to have structured conversations with their online shoppers.
The reality is that BDC personnel care about appointments set and show ratios, while salespeople care about one thing, and one thing only: selling a car. Help them figure out the best way to accomplish more of those goals and you will win them over. Supportive sales and BDC staff will, in turn, influence customers and plant great F&I seeds.
Win the Desk.
Our industry is changing. As Baby Boomers are retiring in droves, F&I knowledge and know-how transfer is becoming much more scarce. With less experience, F&I became much more technology-dependent.
Think about it: Dealertrack and RouteOne were already well-established when the majority of F&I and sales manager professionals working today began their careers. They are much more dependent on system approvals.
With ever more complicated lender programs, the art of an F&I deal is hard to come by. This is a great opportunity for an agent. Coaching and helping sales managers and F&I managers to put deals together is a sure way to win everyone over.
Get familiar with your finance sources and their guidelines. Meet with bank reps personally and find out about the intricacies of their programs. Ask your dealer to provide you with finance platform logins and go to work on making deals happen. Helping sales managers score more gross will go a long way toward winning them over.
Understand the Ripple Effect.
With shrinking margins and a greater focus on F&I, dealer profitability affects everyone at the store. When focusing on the ripple effect of this, you are influencing people at the dealership far beyond F&I training.
Helping someone reach their goals and buy their first house or take their family on a nice vacation is a reward that is worth all the effort you put in with those individuals. When you make your work about people, it amplifies the effect you have on everyone involved. It certainly becomes a way bigger “Why?” than anything else out there.
As Zig Ziglar once said, “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Figure out a way to produce so much of this positive ripple effect that the dealership personnel you train can’t wait for you to be with them. This is one way to stay relevant and influential. Touch as many people as possible at each one of your accounts, from receptionists to technicians.
As basic as it sounds, treating everyone like gold will pay much more than any product will. When you make it about them, you are bound to create a much greater influence.
None of these things might be new to you. As a matter of fact, there is a chance you have done them in the past. And maybe — just maybe — you forgot and got away from them. The benefits are endless, with one being more esteemed by your dealer. Positioning yourself with your dealer as a key member of their leadership team will go a long way.
Above all, keep the human aspect in mind. This simple change in mindset will have an effect that goes beyond F&I training.
Tony Troussov CSP is a 20-year F&I industry veteran and principal of Mezen Dealership Services. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.