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Wards Industry Voices columnist Marv Eleazer.

Car Dealership People: Are You a Whiner or Winner?

As a famous old moralist said, “Self-help is the best help.”

A farmer was driving his wagon along a miry country road after a heavy rain. The horses could hardly drag the load through the deep mud, and at last came to a standstill when one of the wheels sank to the hub.

The farmer climbed down and stood beside the wagon, looking at it but making no effort to get it out of the rut. All he did was curse his bad luck and call loudly on Hercules to come to his aid.

Then, it is said, Hercules really did appear, saying:

“Put your shoulder to the wheel, man, and urge on your horses. Do you think you can move the wagon by simply looking at it and whining about it? Hercules will not help unless you make some effort to help yourself.”

When the farmer put his shoulder to the wheel and urged on the horses, the wagon moved. Soon the farmer was riding along in great content and with a lesson learned.

Unlike most of you, I sometimes love to whine when things go sideways. I know it’s a carnal weakness but sometimes I just need to get it off my chest.  September was one of those months for me. It seemed like the car gods were batting me around the handball court with glee awaiting their next turn while my head was aching from every slap against the wall.

It seemed most deals were crossing my desk with sub-500 credit scores buried in thousands of dollars on their trade and with no cash down.

At other times, customers with scores north of 800 weren’t budging on F&I product acceptance. Adding to my malaise was that my F&I partner could do no wrong, knocking deals out of the park.

Those who know me might believe Mad Marv is oblivious to this, especially with the decades of experience I have under my belt. Well, let me tell you this: The struggle is real. The good news is, it won’t last forever.

Like that farmer, it’s easy to pout and complain about downturns and difficult days. Heck, any one of us can do this all day long. But the problem will still be unsolved.

Think about the daily issues we gripe about in the dealership F&I department:

  • Contracts in transit. Every so often, one of these raises its ugly head and drags on for days because of missing stipulations and the customer won’t return a phone call.
  • Missing information. I’m knocked out every time I scan over a deal and discover a missing social security number, date of birth or job time.
  • Desk manager woes. Deals submitted to F&I closed on an unattainable payment well below buy rate and the term too long.  Like, we’re magicians.  What are they thinking? 
  • Sloppy or absent turnovers from sales to F&I. That’s probably an F&I manager’s hottest button. A car buyer walks in with a check from a credit union for the exact amount and nobody seems to know why F&I didn’t get a chance to talk to the customer beforehand. 

I’m sure you can add to my short list along with your own personal whining. We can sit around over beers fussing about them. But it won’t solve the problems. When we pay our bar tab and saunter back to our offices, these problems still will be there. 

So, what can we do?

For starters, leave the pity party. It’s soothing to unload on other people about your work-day woes. I like complaining as much as the next guy, but it accomplishes nothing. Besides, you can’t solve the problem by simply looking at it and whining about it, as Hercules told the farmer.

F&I managers are great problem solvers or else we wouldn’t be in the chair. But at times, the job is particularly challenging. I get it. If it was easy, everyone would do it, and they wouldn’t need us.

I don’t need to tell you how to fix the problems I mentioned above, because you already are dealing with them and know the solutions. My message is to act as soon as you can, because every minute spent whining is a minute wasted in solving. Plus, most of the problems facing F&I are training opportunities for others.

Oh, and Aesop’s moral to this fable: “Self-help is the best help.”

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 (TM).

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