Epiphanies – those so-called a-ha moments – often are born from necessity when trying to solve problems.
Nick Woodman, founder of GoPro, hit on his idea of developing a rugged, agile and compact camera to capture himself surfing because no products like it existed at the time.
Ingvar Kamprad was having trouble stowing a table in his car when a friend suggested removing the legs. He instantly visualized the idea of flat-packed furniture and Ikea was the result.
If you’re seeking to improve yourself professionally, you’ll eventually experience an a-ha moment. In that moment of clarity, a fork in the road will present a choice.
You can continue down the same well-trodden path to which you’re accustomed or embrace the revelation and take a new route.
Years ago, a trainer said to me, “Marv, none of us know it all. We’re just conduits of information. I pass along things I learn from others and in the process gain knowledge myself.”
Sounded simple enough, yet how often do we ignore or miss such wisdom flying right over our heads?
We often read about discoveries in science, manufacturing and medicine. Sometimes they’re uncovered by pure accident while others are the result of laborious trial-and-error.
But in each case, open-minded people are looking for better ways to do a job and improve the world around them.
Dealership F&I professionals are no different. They keep an open mind and a sharp eye out for opportunity. Effectively communicating with customers is Job 1.
I see this often on the Ethical F&I Managers™ Facebook page where many people swap ideas and techniques they’ve gleaned from others.
It’s not rocket science to copy and adapt something from another F&I pro. That’s one of the major ways progress is made.
I’ve heard and seen a lot of different approaches to customer objections in this business, and have tried most of them. Some worked great with my personality and process; some didn’t.
While pondering these things, I decided to ask my colleagues around the country to reply to this question:
“What is the single greatest revelation that has aided you professionally?”
Their replies are vivid and diverse. Here’s a sampling.
Dale Patten: The realization that salespeople are the No.1 customer. They can make or break you both intentionally and unintentionally. Treat them like a customer and with appreciation. Period.
Stephanie Cooper: Your raise becomes effective when you do.
Scott Mason: Cash customers buy (F&I) products too, and just as much as everyone else, you just have to get the perceived value of the product to exceed the price.
James Cole: The customer “connections” that sit across from you. It’s much more than a warranty sale or GAP penetration. The connections quite possibly could alter the path of your career altogether.
Lane Trujillo: Developing a process and sticking to it. Fine tune it but learn to find common ground and treat people like humans. Doing the right thing means you don’t have to justify anything.
Catherine Flannery: When you realize that you don’t need to ask the customer a single question because they will tell you everything. Don’t ask them stupid questions and back yourself into a corner and make them be a liar.
Cindy Merry: Getting involved in the deal early and often! Working with the desk structuring deals and educating the sales team on the frontline is crucial to doing our part as leaders.
Dina Gilbert Wilson: Never prejudge anyone.
Walt Dobrowski: You can make a lot of money in this business by not assuming anything!
Michael McMahon: Changing from “building rapport” to “establishing credibility” as I transitioned from sales to F&I.
Ryan Holcomb: Looking at how to deal with personality types has been very helpful.
Jimmy Lee: The better you treat the sales staff, the more cars they’ll sell and the more opportunities you’ll receive.
Matthew Hilty: Becoming a true leader that people want to follow.
Charles Campbell: I have used this in literally hundreds of education sessions over the years: “It is better to have and not need, than to need and not have.”
For me, it’s the revelation that, because of the various customer types, there are different ways to handle objections to buying F&I products and services. Until I embraced this concept, I often misapplied and used the wrong tools.
These are just a few suggestions. I wish I had more space to list them all. I urge you to re-read them and see if any spark an a-ha moment that will help you do your job better.
A parting quote: “Never be afraid to do something new. Remember, amateurs built the ark; professionals built the Titanic.”
Good luck and keep closing.
Marv Eleazer, author of this “Real F&I" column, is the lead F&I Manager at Langdale Ford in Valdosta, GA. He has 30 years F&I experience. He is the founder of a Facebook group, Ethical F&I Managers™.