When I was an F&I manager, I was proud of my position, but one day I was disappointed to hear a derogatory comment about being a “clerk”. I am writing this for the benefit of all F&I managers, and may they never be tagged “clerk” again.
Computers helped the F&I manager evolve and they are now helping customers with more information and specifications than ever before. We become guilty of thinking because the customer has this information, they are not interested in us any more.
How many times has a sales person turned over a customer to an F&I manager saying; “The customer doesn't want anything, just print the bill of sale”? The sales person has just done the customer a disservice and reduced the F&I manager to the rank of a “clerk.”
I have news — the customer still wants to touch, feel, smell and drool, yes drool over a next new vehicle. They have the information, but they still want their investment protected, they still want the presentation and they definitely still want to be sold!
Don't deny your customers the opportunity to enhance their ownership experience. The F&I manager reinforces the customer's positive experience by selecting products designed to support their buying decision well into the future.
Unlike clerks, F&I managers follow a process similar to all sales professionals.
Offers the services of the business office
Interviews and counsels the customer
Selects products that are beneficial to the customer
Explains and demonstrates the benefits of these products
Sells these products
Completes the sale for the customer
Follows up with complete, accurate documentation for delivery
For all you F&I managers, you are more than a clerk! You are an interviewer, a selection specialist, a professional presenter, an advisor, a salesperson and a manager.
Here's how to really get that across:
STEP 1: Schedule time with the sales staff to demonstrate the features and benefits of the products you sell their customers. Explain why you offer these products and not others less desirable.
STEP 2: Attend all sales meetings armed with the business office statistics, be the last speaker and finish on a high note by praising top producers and encouraging others.
STEP 3: Rather than chastise poor producers out of frustration, hold separate one-on-one meetings to boost rapport. Repeat the features and benefits presentation on your products.
STEP 4: If your dealership has an optional business casual dress policy, don't follow it. You're the F&I manager. Dress to impress by wearing a business suit.
STEP 5: Since service meetings are typically held with technicians, service advisors, parts people, managers and others, request an opportunity to discuss your products at the next scheduled meeting. Gain their support by demonstrating the features and benefits of the products you sell to their customers.
STEP 6: Upon arriving at your dealership each morning, walk through the service department and greet as many employees as possible. As a result, the service personnel will likely support you and your products.
STEP 7: If at all possible, put accessories in your office for demonstration purposes, but if this can't be done, make a picture wall to display your products. Mount posters, brochures, and such in professional looking frames.
STEP 8: As for financial institutions you do business with, keep their calendars, pens, brochures and handouts available for customers. The availability of several financial sources reinforces the customer's acceptance of your process.
STEP 10: Like a good manager, keep your work area free of clutter by processing your paper work. The F&I office is the office of a manager and must be portrayed as such.
STEP 11: It doesn't matter how many customers you have on the go, you must stay in control. So produce a checklist for every deal folder and use it. An organized manager is respected and depended upon.
STEP 12: Either role-play the following introduction with your sales people in the next sale meeting or practice your own intro. Either way, make sure you are introduced in the least complicated and most professional manner possible.
“Mr. and Mrs. Customer this is my Finance and Insurance manager, ___________________. He/She will complete the documentation, and registration of your new vehicle. He/She will also be able to go over all of the warranties, vehicle under coatings and everything else you may require for your new vehicle. I'll see you when the paper work is complete.”
A clerk produces accurate documentation. The F&I manager does that, but also uses professional techniques to counsel, select, present and sell benefits and advantages to customers. Which do you want to be?
Bryan Goudy is a training manager and instructor at the Automotive Sales College, 1-888-681-7355.