About this time every year, when F&I professionals are looking forward to a new year, we get the question, “What can I do to become a top performer next year?” When we're asked that question we always suggest that we first look at some commonalities among top performing F&I professionals and every year we start the year with the list below.
While top performing F&I professionals come in all shapes and sizes, there are some commonalities we find among consistently top performing F&I professionals.
Commonalities among top F&I performers:
1. They implement an effective, consistent process and follow it.
And for any process to be successful, some elements need to be part of it.
- It has to be easy enough to do it every time.
- It has to be simple enough for the customer to follow.
- It has to be fast.
- It has to present 100% of qualified products
- It has to work immediately when implemented
- It offers “choices” rather than “sales pitches”
A consistent process will produce consistent results. Top performers don’t just “wing it”. Certainly, our Package Option™ approach accomplishes this through a systematic process and sequence of techniques.
2. They present every product the customer qualifies for, every time.
The only absolute rule in F&I is that if you don’t offer a product to a customer, they probably won’t buy it. Never assume you know which products a customer will buy. Top performers present every product the customer qualifies for, every time. Of course, your process has to do this in a way that is easy, simple and fast.
3. They never compromise their ethics.
Years ago we would have never thought these words would pass our lips about our business, but today we can say with confidence, “It doesn’t matter how much money you make, if you are not in legal and ethical compliance and don’t have top CSI scores, you are a dinosaur and soon to be extinct”.
Joe Girard is, without question, the greatest car salesman in history. Yet, he has always understood this aspect of reputation building. He has made statements like “Ethics will make you or break you”. “Say only the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”. Or “If it's a lie, you don't need the sale. It's a dirty sale”. And finally, “If your boss is asking you to do something unethical, this is the one time I will tell you to quit”.
4. They build and maintain productive relationships
Years ago, we had a veteran tell us “There are only ten people in this business and they all know each other”. We didn’t know what he meant at the time but after all this time in the business, we get it. The relationships you build today will stay with you throughout your career, whether good or bad.
Top performers pay particular attention to their relationships with lenders. We work with bank and credit union personnel all the time and you might be surprised at how freely they discuss who the “good” dealers and F&I managers are as opposed to the ones they can’t trust. And these people stay on the job for thirty years or more. And they talk to each other.
Also, top performers develop productive relationships with factory personnel. Get to know the reps that visit the dealership. Attend factory sponsored events as often as possible. Your reputation with the manufacturer’s personnel is important to your long-term success.
5. They are students of the business.
Top performers educate themselves. Many of them attend every training event their dealer will pay for. Not only do they grow their knowledge base but these training events are a place they to network with their peers. In our case, the F&I personnel we train and our agents and product providers communicate regularly and share valuable ideas and information.
6. They measure their words.
You are responsible for the reputation of your dealer and yourself. And in this day of the internet, it is easy to go online and post some kind of offhand remark that you might later regret. But remember, everything you post on the internet is permanent. It never gets erased. My suggestion is that you assume everything you post online will be printed on your resume, every time you apply for a job. If you wouldn’t say it in an employment interview, don’t post it.
While networking online can provide valuable information, you will quickly be identified by what you post. Just a tip: Don’t go on line and brag about how much money you are making or how great you are. We know of a dealer who has shown competitor’s posts to their customers. And the dealer whose employee is posting these things, (they think on a “closed” forum) doesn’t even know it. It’s just bad form. And do you really have any business sharing your dealer’s proprietary information on line?
7. Finally, honesty and credibility are their standards.
Now, we're not going to get on some moral high horse here. But this trait may have the most profound effect on your future career goals. One of the most critical traits dealers are looking for today, and certainly will be in the future, is the honesty and character of their F&I staff.
We often get calls from dealers and agents asking about potential F&I candidates. Not too many years ago, the question we would be asked was “How much money can this person make me?” But more and more these days the questions we get are “Are they honest?” or “Will this person keep us out of trouble?” or “How were their CSI scores?” There is no question that paying a little attention to your reputation in the industry will pay dividends for the rest of your career.
Want to be a top F&I professional in 2017?
There are many personality types and different ways of approaching F&I. But these traits are a common denominator among elite F&I professionals and might be worth pondering as you approach the New Year.
~article adapted from Team One Group, George Angus Saturday Morning Message
Contact us for more information on how we can help you become a Top F&I performer in 2017.