Saturday, December 01, 2007

F&I Express–Station#11-Staffing the F&I Department


The F&I department has three different positions. One person could fill all three roles depending on the size of the dealership, or split the duties between three people. The rule of thumb is that one F&I producer can handle about 75 deals each month. That includes the great deals, the poor credit deals, and all the usual documentation that accompanies the deals. When the level of business exceeds 75 deals per month, then the department needs to expand by adding an additional F&I producer or an F&I billing clerk.

F&I Billing Clerk

This is an hourly position and is mainly administrative. The billing clerk helps the F&I producer so he can focus on selling rather than paperwork. The billing clerk prints the documents for delivery, except for the final retail installment contract and policies that might be sold during the second visit. The clerk obtains customer credit applications and submits them to lenders for approval. The clerk also takes the correct payoffs on trade-ins and verifies insurance on sold units, in addition to preparing documents for submission to the lenders and accounting office. This job is a great entry-level F&I position, and it can be seasonal or part-time depending on sales volume.

In high season, the F&I producer meets the customer, conducts the credit interview, presents the F&I products, addresses customer concerns, secures the sale, and prints the buyer’s order. After the manager secures the customer’s signature on the purchase order, the billing clerk completes the balance of the documentation. In the meantime, the F&I producer is free to greet the next customer and begin the interview process, followed by the presentation of goods and services. For this activity to be successful, dealerships need two F&I offices, because both the F&I clerk and F&I producer rotate between offices.

For motivation it is great to pay the F&I billing clerk a small monthly commission of the F&I departmental income. Remember, you want to create a positive synergy between the producer and the clerk.

F&I Producer

F&I managers, producers or writers, are the frontline people seen by all customers. These are the people responsible for the bottom line. They secure the sales, increase customer satisfaction and retention, increase profitability, complete all the legal sale documentation, and monitor contracts in transit. The position is judged not by the quality of the documentation, but by the amount they contribute to a dealership’s bottom line.

This position, based mainly commission, sometimes comes with a small salary. Producers must possess a high level of integrity and conduct themselves in an ethical manner at all times. They are the last ones seen by customers and the first ones remembered when it comes to anything on the RV. This position requires an individual that is self motivated, and has a positive attitude.

F&I Director

Larger dealerships with multiple locations need to consider an F&I director. Directors are the main point of contact for the vendors. They are also the liaison between senior management and the F&I producers. Directors are the number crunchers, the report evaluators and coaches for the producers. Directors recruit, hire and staff F&I departments. They also look out for new products and services.

F&I directors participate in sales meetings, manager meetings, vendor meetings and weekly objection meetings. Directors assist producers in setting monthly goals and developing strategies for meeting department objectives. The director makes a commission on all the F&I department’s income, is mainly an administrative position, and most receive a salary.

How Many Deals Can One Producer Handle?

The threshold is about 75 deals per month. For those who have a two-visit process, that means F&I producers see about 150 customers. It would be great if the customer flow was spread throughout the month, but the reality is the buying frenzy often happens all at once. It could be dead all day and at 5 p.m. the F&I department is stacked up with five deals and everyone wanting to go home on time. Sales managers should be crossed-trained with F&I producers. This is also why having part-time billing clerk available at high traffic times is advantageous.

Recruit the Best!

Where does one look for someone who can make lemonade out of lemons? Look in-house. Having a culture of internal growth is a positive statement for any company. Post job openings on an intra-net.

Everyone likes working with a friend. Have current employees look for potential hires in their circle of influence. Offer a bounty for anyone hired, and pay the bounty after the new hire passes the probationary period.

Send a letter to your service and parts customers. Let me share an idea of the wording.

Dear Mr. ______________,

Thank you for being our loyal parts and service customer. We truly value your patronage and are happy to provide you with world-class service.

As you might know, currently we are expanding our __________ department. As a result, we are looking for new members for our “A” team. If you know of someone who is looking for a career change and possesses the same high level of customer service skills that you have enjoyed at our dealership, please have him or her contact me or our HR manager __________.

I wish to thank you in advance for assisting two friends. We always look forward to seeing you at the campground.

Sincerely,
Friendly RV Dealer

Prospecting for quality personnel should be the function of every manager. Share the load and ask managers to submit the name of one potential new employee every month. Create a well of prospects. The next time you are looking to expand your personnel, look in the well first.

RV Executive Today, December 08 Issue, P. 38 & 41.