Thursday, November 01, 2007

F&I Express Station#10-Part of the Management Team


F&I is often a department of one who answers to many. This person/department produces significant income for the dealership and is a vital part of the management team. It is critical that the F&I manager is seen as a valued member of the management staff.

F&I managers should participate in managers meetings, sales meetings, and most importantly, the education of new employees. Think of the improved productivity when a sales person knows the correct way to complete a trade interview sheet and a complete credit application.

MAKE THE DEAL

As a part of the management team, F&I personnel should participate in daily “Let’s Make a Deal” meetings. This is where the sales manager and the F&I manager review the status of every walk-in customer, every lead and every instance that did not turn into a deal. They review the facts and ask each other what would it take to make this a deal? Maybe a different vehicle? Could it be more for the trade? Or, perhaps, longer financing so the customer can enjoy lower payments. What piece of information was overlooked on the first pass?

A different pair of eyes is all it takes to discover the magic of making a deal. These meetings usually take place early in the day. It could be the ticket to making a deal before 10 a.m. and getting the day started with lots of energy.

In the general course of the work week, Wednesday is lending cleanup day. What contracts were not funded? The F&I professional should produce a daily pending finance deal report. It lists where the documentation is in the paperwork mill, and all outstanding contracts. The report is aged, and the number of outstanding contracts is tallied, along with the total account receivable in contracts.

F&I professionals not only think about the deal coming in, but they think about the tasks that lay ahead for the deal that was just completed, in addition to the follow-up for the lost sales nine months ago. The F&I position is not for the faint of heart. It is a fast-paced position that requires lots of positive energy and dedication to the job at hand. The position demands dedication and a high standard of ethics.

F&I MANAGERS CONTINUE LEARNING

F&I professionals must be self-starters who make time in their day to better themselves. Setting goals, mapping out a plan to attain those goals, and implementing the plan all improve production. They also monitor their own performance and make changes to the plan as needed.

F&I professionals realize they must continue to ask questions, and they must learn continuously. They must be on the cutting edge of change. When was the last time your F&I professional read a book on leadership, managing internal change, closing skills or presentation skills?

Those of you reading this may be asking, “Jan where have you been lately? You have obviously lost touch with the hours the F&I manager puts in.” Rest assured I have not lost touch with long hours. What I know is that if we want improved productivity, and improved customer loyalty, we must renew our education on people skills, business management and technology. What are you doing to allow your personnel time for continuing education?

MONITORING PERFORMANCE

I realize that most dealers count every sale as a retail event. Since we are all in the business, we must understand that we sell some things that should be counted as part of the wholesale price, not as a retail figure. I am referring to the horse, the cow, and let’s not forget the camera. I ask you, where are the F&I opportunities in these type of sales? The answer is, “nowhere.” Yet, all these things were taken in trade and sold by the dealer, and counted as retail sales against the F&I manager.

PRU stands for average profit “per retail unit.” It would be great to track wholesale pieces in a different account, or a different log, and not have it affect the F&I producer.

In the next article, we will take to task monitoring performance. There is more than numbers in those percentages.

RV Executive Today, November 2007 Issue, P. 34 & 38