If your F&I team operates on all cylinders, chances are they have created an F&I culture within your store. This type of culture is one where  salespeople and sales managers are supportive of their efforts and customers see great value in F&I process and products. Of course, it takes more than those things to make an impact in F&I, but without those components, it is very difficult to create an F&I culture. If your store is not there yet, it may seem easy to achieve success in those areas, but nothing comes easy, it requires work and dedication to make a positive impact on people.

Let’s take a closer look at those steps to see how your team can create an effective F&I culture by winning with their  salespeople, managers, and customers.

Step 1: Winning with your sales team. When you have to decide who must win first – customers, sales managers or  salespeople, choose your sales team. Since the desk managers influence the process so much, it may seem counterintuitive to begin with your sales force, but it will make sense, once you do it.  It has been my experience to see this approach work every time while turning around multiple under-performing F&I departments. 
Where do you start?

Begin with one sales person. For better results, start by winning your top performer, who in most cases does not support F&I efforts. This will be a challenging task, yet it will be the most rewarding one.

What does it involve?

You must know that the most important thing to a sales person is selling a vehicle. While you might know this and even acknowledge it, do you live it and show it to them? Once you do, you will get one step closer to winning them over. Help them deliver more vehicles in a fast and efficient manner, regardless of what type of transaction it might be. Stop grinding them for making mistakes and start coaching them by showing how to do better next time.  Stop “punishing” them by being slow or unresponsive and start showing them your sense of urgency. Stop blaming them for apathy to F&I, and start showing them your empathy to challenges they face. Start closing more deals for them, regardless if it’s a cash or an outside finance deal. Winning your sales team will lead you to establish the foundation to the F&I culture you want to enjoy. 

Step 2: Winning with your sales managers.

When you influence  salespeople and win them over – the sales desk will follow.

What do your managers want?

In most cases – the same thing your  salespeople want – sell and deliver more cars and do it in a fast, efficient and effective way.   What they do not want, is to see a slow and un-responsive F&I team. They do not want to hear excuses and complaints from F&I managers. They want to see a partner in their F&I team, someone who would step up and help in the time of need and not hide in their offices.  They want to see someone who owns their mistakes and takes care of those in a timely fashion. They want to hear someone cheerfully say – “give me this deal” no matter what type of a deal it is.

Winning with sales managers also involves coaching and training your sales team on how to close more deals and sell more cars.   

Step 3: Winning with your customers. Your sales person spends several hours with their customer and now it is your turn. Needless to say,  salespeople are very protective of their relationships. In addition, customer’s sales resistance can reach a high level at this point.

What do your customers want?

Let’s face it – they want to pay for their vehicle and go on their way. They spent all this time deciding and now that they made it, they are ready to go. Their sense of urgency is at the highest level as well. They want someone who will listen to them, match their sense of urgency and complete their paperwork in a timely fashion. When they hear a menu presentation they want to hear and see value in the products your team is pitching. Moreover, stop boring them to death with your presentation, engage them, educate them, and show value. Ultimately, you want to have customers make their buying decision on their own – no one likes to be sold, but everyone loves to buy. 

Winning with your  salespeople and managers will help you create a better experience for your customers. Creating an F&I culture is not an easy task, yet it is very rewarding. It will take hard work from everyone involved. F&I is a team sport and it requires a lot of give-and-take. Focus on delivering a massive amount of value to your salespeople, managers, and customers without anticipating anything in return. When that happens – as Zig Ziglar said, “you will get everything in life you want, if you will help other people get what they want.”

Author: Tony Troussov

Tony is an owner of Mezen Dealer Services. He recently served as Group F&I Director at Morries Automotive Group. Throughout his twenty plus years in an automotive retail career he held multiple leadership positions, including a GM of a large import dealership. As a consultant, Tony works with dealerships and OEMs helping them improve processes and customer experience. He designed and developed on-demand learning platform for dealership employees. Along with hundreds of dealerships, his clients included Hyundai, Lexus, GP Strategies and J.D. Power. Tony has delivered over 650 presentations totaling over 3,000 hours of platform time. His international work includes speaking and training in Korea, Portugal, and UAE. Tony is a Certified Coaching Practitioner with Certified Coaching Federation and a Certified Speaking Professional with National Speakers Association.

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