Jim McDavid, JM&A Group's vice president of North America Sales, is taking a crash course in Spanish. Why the rush?
It's because JM&A is expanding its finance & insurance training and product offerings into Puerto Rico, where F&I offices are few and far between.
Of about 190 dealerships there annually selling 125,000 new cars, only 5%-10% maintain F&I departments like those in the U.S. Instead, Puerto Rican dealerships' F&I offices typically stick to processing paperwork, making money on loan reserves, but seldom on products such as extended service contracts and insurance policies.
“As we looked at the market, we saw a lot of opportunities for us to do there what we do here: help dealers make F&I profits and make customers happy in the process,” says McDavid.
A first step in the initiative was to establish relationships with dealers, finance companies and banks in the U.S. territory.
JM&A did that, in part, by hosting a golf outing at El Legado de Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Course. The weekend event featured as a special guest the course's developer: legendary golfer and Puerto Rican native Chi Chi Rodriguez.
JM&A already had 14 committed Puerto Rican dealers. More are coming aboard “as they understand the way we do it here,” says McDavid.
The JM&A way is to send in its trainers — all dealership veterans — who not only tell clients how to sell F&I products but show them in actual presentations.
“The dealership people watch us perform,” says McDavid. “Once they see how easy it is and how effective menu selling is, and once they see the profits and the happy customers, then the rest is easy.”
It's important to gain the trust of people in Puerto Rico which is a “close-knit community,” he says.
To show its good will, JM&A donated $30,000 to the Chi Chi Rodrigeuz Youth Foundation, serving inner city youths who are at risk of dropping out of school.
It was initially going to be $20,000. McDavid kicked in $10,000 more, after chatting with Rodrigeuz over drinks.
“Chi Chi is a good salesman,” says McDavid.