Agents are a trusted partner to the dealer and providing the F&I team with opportunities for training is the best way to improve performance and drive profits.  - IMAGE: Nattanan Kanchanaprat via Pixabay 

Agents are a trusted partner to the dealer and providing the F&I team with opportunities for training is the best way to improve performance and drive profits. 

IMAGE: Nattanan Kanchanaprat via Pixabay 

Agents are responsible for one main thing: raise the profits for the dealership. With the compression of front-end profits, the major area of focus has transferred to the F&I office. Even the most talented people need to be consistently challenged and shown the path to continuous improvement in profits and customer satisfaction. There are many principles that will support continuous improvement efforts. However, there are three principles I have found to be invaluable in driving success, helping customers, and providing the dealership with financial rewards.

Track effort and training rather than numbers, because numbers are the result of the effort.

Diagnose before you prescribe! Attempting to sell products in excess without knowing the exact needs of the customer is F&I malpractice! The mantra of today’s customer is “nothing extra.” To convert the customer from No to Yes, we must utilize a customer-focused process. This process requires time for the customer to identify their own needs and determine a product's necessity. “You told me earlier,” is the most powerful statement in any F&I office. When I hear that phrase from an F&I manager, I know a diagnosis has been made, and the likelihood of products being sold climbs dramatically.

Customers don’t buy products based on what you say, but rather when they feel they have been heard. That requires dialogue with consistent, open-ended questions ensuring that the customer does the talking. It’s not an interrogation, but a conversation. Customers are more likely to see value in a product when an F&I manager offers proof that they are listening. I have rarely seen a successful F&I manager that was not exceptional in this skill.

Make the process an interactive and visual one! Attempting to overcome objections with verbal remarks is far more likely to cause rejection of the offered product. Regardless of how well-rehearsed and informative our reasoning may be, it's very likely the customer will still say no. Instead of talking our way to success, it is better to "show" our way there. One of the symptoms of an F&I slump is the F&I manager dominating the conversation. Explaining the expense of a possible repair provides very limited information. Instead, consider showing the customer a copy of a recent repair order so they can better understand the overall expense. F&I managers must get the customer out of the “bleachers” and make them part of the presentation. An involved customer is a buying customer!

Train like a champion! Training makes champions! It’s true both in sports and in the F&I office. Unfortunately, many F&I managers likely attended a class years ago and have not been regularly involved in training since. In professional sports, this would get you cut from the team. In this F&I world, this means lost profits. Without consistent practice, our statements become generic, and this stifles our ability to engage with customers. It's essential to continue honing our craft to assure that we have current, reliable information to share with customers. In the age of google, customers have greater access to information, which means we have to consistently learn to keep up with a progressing market. Agents are a trusted partner to the dealer and providing the F&I team opportunities for training is one of the best ways to improve performance and drive profits.

Agents are a trusted partner to the dealer and providing the F&I team with opportunities for training is the best way to improve performance and drive profits. Track effort and training rather than numbers, because numbers are the result of the effort.

Here's to more F&I success!

Author

Rick McCormick
Rick McCormick

Columnist

Rick McCormick is the national account development manager for Reahard & Associates.

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Rick McCormick is the national account development manager for Reahard & Associates.

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