Choosing to adhere to these 10 non-negotiables is difficult and it takes discipline – choose them anyway.
I think it is important for F&I managers to look at F&I as a business within a business. As in any business, here are certain non-negotiables, which, if the business owner has the discipline to not compromise on, will greatly increase the likelihood of managing a profitable business that stands the test of time. Here are my 10 non-negotiables for F&I:
KNOW WHO YOUR BEST CUSTOMER IS
Sales is the best customer of any F&I manager. Drive and cultivate a positive relationship with all members of the sales team. Take the initiative to work with the sales manager and sales staff to help maximize each opportunity.
NEVER BE SATISFIED WITH THE STATUS QUO
Never stop learning. Be a student of the business: Nothing is the same as it was yesterday; learning equals growth; and growth equals discomfort — lean into it. Don’t be the F&I manager who ends up applying two or three years of experience to a 10- or 20-year career.
MAKE THINGS HAPPEN
Come to work to work. Waiting for something to happen kills more F&I careers than just about anything. Get out of your office and stay engaged by being out on the sales floor or in the service department to create opportunities.
HAVE PROCESS DISCIPLINE
Go beyond trusting your process. Believe in it so strongly that you can’t imagine doing it any other way. Know everything about the products you offer. Take the time, every time, to discover the customer’s needs, and then align the benefits of your products to solve the customer’s problems and fulfill their needs.
Put the needs of the customer first. Build trust by keeping the customer informed about what you are doing and why — listen to understand, not just to reply. Then, share knowledge, give examples, and present options. Know the value of being a great opener when it comes to closing, and be transparent in your method.
PRIORITIZE YOUR TIME
Learn and understand the difference between important and urgent. Have the situational awareness to avoid the “present bias” that exists in F&I. The important things in F&I support your goals; the urgent usually supports someone else’s goals. Don’t get stuck in the “urgent.” Learn how to balance the urgent needs of those around you with what is important to you. You cannot continually sacrifice what is important to you, such as professional growth, development, and profit for the sake of what is urgent to others and expect to be successful.
Don’t allow others to give you your goals — create your own personal and professional goals, as well as a plan to achieve them. Track your performance on all opportunities, incorporate 90-day rolling averages to establish trends, understand the value of small, sustained increases over time, and know that the numbers tell the truth about your performance and rarely, if ever, lie. Never make excuses for your performance. Instead, adjust and go to work.
DON’T COMPLAIN, TEACH
Become the best trainer in your dealership. Solid execution of the fundamentals is the key to performance in any endeavor — start there. Challenge others to improve, and in doing so, make yourself and your associates better.
MARKETING F&I AND FOLLOW-UP
Nobody bats a 1,000. There are many customers who decline the products we offer at delivery, which doesn’t mean they will never see the need or value in what we offer — be there when they do by following up with all F&I customers. The CRM is the most valuable and least used tool in F&I. For those willing to look, customers are everywhere. There is more than one revenue stream available for F&I.
DON’T MAKE MISTAKES
Take pride in your work — don’t ever have CIT problems. Protect the dealer and limit the dealer’s risk whenever possible. Touch a deal once and maintain situational awareness to ensure that the seeds of noncompliance never take root. Do the right thing because it is the right thing to do.
Don’t negotiate with yourself — consistency and discipline are the keys to performance and success. Understand that choosing to adhere to these 10 non-negotiables is difficult; it takes discipline, but choose them anyway. Choose them every time, with every customer in every situation, without exception.
John Tabar is executive director of training for Brown & Brown Dealer Services.
Originally posted on F&I and Showroom