Saturday, May 01, 2004

The Selling Cycle - Part XI F&I Process

The sale has been closed. A change of face not only brings welcome relief for the sales person, it also sets the stage for a professional financial representative to secure the funding and complete all the disclosures.

Many of you reading this article may well be wondering what makes a financial representative “professional”. A professional knows the federal regulations that govern the F&I process and accepts full responsibility for applying the rules. A professional understands that in this litigious environment, how results are attained is just as important as the results themselves. In other words, the professional financial representative knows that the means must justify the ends.

A recent segment of the television news magazine Dateline highlighted an automotive group in which at least one financial representative changed a customer’s income on the credit application. Altering invoices in order to justify a higher advance constitutes fraud, and the consequences can have devastating results for everyone involved. As a result, auto lenders are not funding contracts until they telephone the customer and verify the customer application and the vehicle’s equipment. This extra step delays funding and is the direct result of dishonorable activity.

Hiring practices, employee training, monitoring and performance evaluations must all emphasize zero tolerance for misrepresentation. Dealers need to make it clear that misrepresentation will be met with immediate dismissal and take action now to employ checks and balances in the deal paperwork process.

Here are some guidelines:

Maintain MSO’s and titles in a secure environment in the accounting office.

Separate the duties. No one person should have access to the MSO’s and titles and the funding packages.

The sales manager can work the deals using copies of invoices kept in a three-ring binder at the sales manager’s desk. After approving the deal, the sales manager can then put the invoice copy in a deal jacket and hand it to the financial representative to complete the deal.

Finance personnel should prepare the loan documents that will be submitted for funding. They can also complete all their tasks using a copy of the invoice.

When the accounting office receives the deal jacket of packaged funding documents, the invoice copy should be easy to identify and easy to verify with the original invoice.

There will be no better time than right now for the RV industry to be ethical, honest, and trustworthy in every aspect of its business. If you cannot justify how you get your results, soon your results will not matter.

F&I will continue to be a critical profit center operating in the media spotlight. Use the map that follows to ensure that your F&I process can safely tow the sale you close to world-class delivery without a hitch!

1. Sales manager and customer agree on the deal

2. Sales manager notifies financial center of deal status

3. Finance representative picks up documents at sales office

4. Finance representative verifies file is complete and contains mileage, VINs, trade info, checks

5. Finance representative goes to salesperson’s office to meet customer and review sales figures with salesperson and customer

6. Finance representative escorts customer to finance center office (walks & talks)

7. Finance representative reviews customer information screen to insure all information is correct and prints documents

8. Finance representative conducts interview to discover customer’s needs

9. (Spot delivery) Finance representative presents all products and closes with the menu

9a. (2 visit process) 1st Visit Finance representative presents products to add to the vehicle: environmental protection, security systems, etc. and set the appointment for walk through

9b. 2nd Visit Customer greeted by Sales and escorted to the vehicle Orientation Tech

9c. After orientation technician escorts customer to the financial center

10. Using F-A-B format, finance representative presents all insurance products to the customer

11. Finance representative negotiates the payment plan / benefits

12. Finance representative and customer secure agreement on payment plan

13. Finance representative prepares documents: loan, policies, title –DMV

14. Finance representative fully discloses all documents

15. Finance representative secures customer signature on all documents

16. Finance representative pages Sales to the office

17. Finance representative says thank you and farewell to the customer

18. Finance representative secures funding approval; prepares loan docs & all internal docs; turns the file to accounting office

RV Executive Today, May ’04 Issue, p. 25 & 27