When you hear about someone being obsessed about something, at first you may perceive it as a negative thing. Here is a definition of the word obsession – it “is an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person’s mind”. Of course, obsession could be bad, but if you have good thoughts preoccupying your mind or dominating your mind continuously they can turn into a very positive drive and focus. Let’s face it – it is hard to stay focused in the automotive business. Many of us are simply not wired that way and constantly chasing the proverbial “squirrel.” But healthy obsession that generates laser-like focus will create consistency of healthy results. So what should you and your F&I team be obsessed about? In order to reach greatness in F&I here are four areas that your team needs to be obsessed about daily.
1: Training and education.
In my travels I meet plenty of F&I professionals who are self-taught and who have never attended a formal F&I training. It is sad, but lack of education is a reality in our industry. Whether it is a three day, or a two-week long F&I boot camp, offsite training and learning is vital, regardless how long your people have been in F&I position. Being open to learning and growth is important, what’s even more important is to be obsessed about getting better. Practicing, drilling and rehearsing their skills will get your team to the level beyond their current one. Obsessed teams are practicing with each other during down time and not during busy times with their customers. In addition to that, they are obsessed about success of an entire store, so they educate and coach their sales team, both on products and process. Let’s get obsessed about self-improvement and growth in F&I.
2: Forecasting and tracking.
You know it – what gets measured – gets done. If your team is not setting goals and forecasting their year, quarter, month or a week, there will be nothing to track their progress against. Many good teams know what their PVR and penetrations should be, they may even know what their total gross profit should be for any given month, great teams are obsessed about forecasting and tracking their progress. They can tell you exactly what they are trucking on any given day. They strategize and plan their year and then work it backwards down to each week. An obsessed team knows the numbers they are tracking each day of the month and if they are down from their forecast, what will it take to catch up. This enables them to be consistent month-in and month-out. Obsession about forecasting and tracking will keep your team accountable to each other.
3: Communication and culture.
Lack of communication is the root of many problems within many organizations. Your F&I department affects every department within your store. Inconsistent or unclear communication leads to confusion and dissatisfaction of your employees and customers. Clear and consistent communication from F&I department will generate plenty of good-will from everyone involve. Both verbal and written communication is important. Telling someone who did a great job during a sales meeting will go long ways. Communicating via email at the end of a day about daily progress with a management team will create awareness and culture of accountability. Being humble and asking for help when needed will improve a culture of openness. The prima-donna status on the other hand, will isolate them and contribute to a bad culture. Being obsessed about communication will lead to a culture that will create a great working environment.
4: Performance and profit.
This seems obvious – F&I is all about profit and performance. What makes F&I team great is their obsession about each and every deal. They are working on performing their best on each transaction, be it cash, lease or finance. I never forget hearing one performance-obsessed team told me this – “we do not have lease, cash or finance deals – we just have deals”. To uninitiated being obsessed about profit, can be perceived as bad. In reality dealership’s profitability should be every employee obsession. A healthy obsession with profit is not about greed it is about growth and pride. This obsession will lead your team to think through each deal before they jump into it. It will lead them to reflection on every lost opportunity and obsession to do better next time.
Being obsessed about aforementioned areas does not mean you cannot have fun and enjoy a great team environment. On the contrary, it simply means staying focused and preoccupied with things that will generate great opportunities for everyone. With that in mind, ask yourself, what is your team obsessed about? What things preoccupy or intrude on their minds? Help them focus and re-align their thinking to be obsessed about education, communication, culture and performance all of these and many more healthy obsessions will lead to greater profitability.