In a recent issue of Dealer Marketing Magazine, Jim Maxim, Jr. had a great piece called “5 Steps to Better F&I Results” that broke down the ways in which dealerships, and specifically, F&I managers can streamline processes to get better results.

The point that really resonated with us: the underlying argument that we, as an industry, have a habit of overly complicating things. Some of it is unavoidable, since regulations and compliance require us to do and present items in a certain way. But much of the selling process itself can, and should, be more efficient.

Part of the issue is that providers, agents and dealers occasionally overlook or downplay an important aspect of success: training. In the day-to-day operations of an F&I office, training often takes a back seat. There are typically 1,001 other issues requiring the F&I manager’s attention, not to mention the actual selling and taking care of the paperwork.

The problem is when we ignore new technologies or methodologies — and the training that is part of learning to use them —the F&I office remains static. While consumer preferences change, sales tactics change, and even the products themselves change, the fundamental way the F&I presentation is handled often remains the same at many dealerships. And while that might be “good enough” to maintain a certain level of sales, it also could mean lost sales opportunities, money left on the table, and potentially an unpleasant customer experience.

I’m not saying every dealership needs to jump on the “cutting edge” bandwagon. Brand new methodologies that are unproven or radically different may be difficult to quickly mainstream into everyday operations. No one will blame a dealership for wanting to wait for new techniques and ideas to prove themselves in the market before making a change. And there’s a big difference between always having to have the latest and greatest technology, and making thoughtful, measured upgrades.

Crucial to this step is then ensuring everyone in the dealership understands the new technologies and processes, and is actually using them to their full potential. We have all seen instances in which a new technology that is meant to simplify our lives actually seems to complicate it more, especially while we are learning to use it. Oftentimes this is due to impatience to achieve results without taking the time to properly learn and understand how the new technology works. We buy in to something to increase our efficiency or effectiveness, but we must take the time to learn in order to achieve those desired outcomes.

Once again, it comes back to the people. F&I managers can make or break product sales, so making sure they have the best tools – and the knowledge to use them – will naturally set them up for the best possible success. The way they relate to their customers, the way they present their products, the way they handle the entire visit, can make or break the sale — and not just of the F&I products. How many deals are lost when consumers get fed up in the paperwork portion of the process and walk away? How much better could the CSI scores be if the process feels welcoming and transparent to the consumer?

The simple saying “People, Process, Product” could be the dealership’s mantra: make sure the right people are in place, that they have efficient, modern methodologies and the training to use them optimally, and then the right products to sell. Get that formula down, and you may be surprised by how efficient – and profitable — the F&I department can be.

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This post was written by: Garret Lacour, CEO RoadVantage

Published: October 21, 2016

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