Each year brings the promise of fresh beginnings for finance and insurance managers. So why is it that you already find yourself frantically reviewing past performance records, wondering why you’re failing to hit your targeted objectives?
Do you feel your performance objectives are even obtainable? Is there a nagging suspicion your supervisor is just setting the bar too high?
Do you suspect your product provider is looking to get rich off your hard work? Maybe your boss just came back from a 20-group meeting with benchmarking information from other dealerships, and you find yourself shaking your head wondering how those other guys pull it off.
Why is it that you’re on the bottom of the 20-group profit analysis report? What do those guys have that you don’t? To put it simply: they’ve got the Midas Touch. The good news is it’s not exclusive. You can have it, too.
Acquiring the Midas Touch takes determination and dedication. It demands discipline and drive. If you think there’s any other way, don’t kid yourself.
To achieve lasting success requires nothing short of good old-fashioned hard work. Everything is earned. Nobody is “born that way.” It’s a skill set you can develop and master by making necessary sacrifices and by refusing to take “no” for an answer.
Don’t blame someone else because others outperform you. Instead, own up to your responsibilities, and then do something about it.
Taking ownership of your performance is essential to building a master plan. If you’re lacking in product penetration, study your products inside and out. It amazes me how many F&I managers don’t really know their products, yet wonder why they fall short.
Here’s a great start: Get a yellow highlighter. Then ask yourself some pointed questions.
How effective you are in overcoming product objections? Do you get a deer-in-the-headlights look when a customer tells you, “I want to stick to my base payment, but thanks anyway”?
Will you come up with every excuse under the sun to explain why you can’t meet the customer at the sales desk to review documents and ensure continuity?
Do you continue to take deals into the F&I office without first getting a checklist signoff by a manager, only to find the deal caked with errors?
How consistent are you with presenting a menu to every customer, every time? How many times will you blow the opportunity to present a menu to customers because you think they’re in a hurry and don’t have time? Or the customer is leasing or paying cash, and you figure, “Why bother?” It’s a recipe for failure to prejudge deals or take it upon yourself to not even bother presenting the menu because you’re convinced the customer won’t buy.
Now, let’s look at your relationship with the lenders you work with. What sort of relationships have you established? Do they like you? Do they want to help you? Have you earned their trust? How comfortable are you with rehashing deals so you can obtain a better approval or product advance calls?
What innovative practices are you willing to try, and how far outside the box are you willing to go to obtain more product sales? Will you continue to do the same as you have always done, or are you committed to making a change that can significantly boost your performance and your earnings?
What’s your relationship with the service department? How involved are you with them ,and what actions have you taken to increase aftermarket product sales?
Do you try to recruit customers from the website who are fishing for finance options? If not, why not? At what point in the sale do you get involved? Is it before or after the customer is landed on the car?
Availability is an essential duty of the successful F&I manager. When you aren’t in your office with a customer or on the phone with the bank, take time to be visible on the floor to meet with the sales staff or to provide one-on-one training.
Take time to get to know the people in the office, maybe even buy them lunch. Talk regularly to the sales managers by sitting with them at their desks. Two heads are better than one.
Whatever you do, be proactive. Be engaging. Be self-starting. If you wait for the deal to come to you, it may be drained of potential profit stripped by the desk or an angry customer who didn’t understand the terms.
Get involved at a moment’s notice with the easy and not-so-easy deals. When was the last time you conducted sales meetings? Is this allowed at your dealership, but you just don’t do? Do you attend sales meetings? If not, why not?
Build a curriculum for the sales department to determine what specific training should be provided. Meet regularly with your general manager. Take the lead in setting up masterful meetings that empower others to grow and generate profits for all.
This is how to acquire the Midas Touch. It’s about throwing away negative habits and picking up positive ones that lift everyone, including you.
Sometimes, it means doing things that others refuse to do. It means taking charge, being consistent and inspiring others to grow with you.
It demands that you know your trade inside and out, fill your cup with new ideas and energize your mission.
To be a champion, do what champions do.
Rebecca Chernek is head of Chernek Consulting, offering customized in-house consultation and regional workshops on F&I practices for motor-vehicle dealers. She can be reached at [email protected]. Websites cherekconsulting.com and chernekconsultingvirtualpro.com feature the launch of an F&I interactive training platform this month.