Author Archives | Rick

Speak With the Loudest Voice!

Speak With the Loudest Voice!

I looked into the face of a top-performing F&I professional and said, “Your potential is furious with your performance!”

After the initial shock, he realized it was a valuable challenge. As independent agents, we meet regularly with great F&I managers who are producing at the best levels they have seen in their career. A simple request to keep improving performance sounds hollow unless it is shared in contrast to potential.

Here are two principals that can enable us to become the “screaming potential voice” to the managers with whom we work:

1. People Will Rise or Fall Based on Your Expectations.

As independent agents, we have tremendous power simply by being in a position of authority; as a result, we can use our words to influence how others view themselves. Expressing belief in your team of F&I professionals and focusing on setting high — but achievable — standards for them will have real repercussions.

Instead of praising employees’ talents or brains, praise the efforts and strategies that got them to where they are. When we track effort, we are putting importance in the very thing that creates results. Expect every F&I manager to practice their skills. Expect every F&I manager to grow their knowledge.

Results always follow intentional effort! When we communicate to an employee, we too often leave out the potential we see in them to be even more successful.

2. Every F&I Professional Must Occasionally Be Pushed Out of Their Complacency.

There’s a natural tendency for people to gravitate toward what they’re good at doing. Then they get stuck there and the “comfort zone” lulls their motivation for improvement to sleep. Good leaders push people to try things they have potential for and give them the opportunity to take a risk. They actively look for ways their employees can practice the exact thing they need to do but might be uncomfortable trying.

Why would a top-performing F&I professional aspire to even higher levels of production and customer satisfaction? Because the loud voice of potential is calling them. It drowns out over-confidence, shortens the length of time spent in the comfort zone and makes even the best better.

Be the voice of potential and watch those you have influence over reach record levels in the days ahead. Be an agent of potential!

Posted in F&I Success0 Comments

Adopt the Manning Mindset!

Adopt the Manning Mindset!

Archie Manning, an NFL quarterback in his own right, raised two sons who have made an even greater impact on the league. The Manning clan attributes their success more to the mindset they were taught than to the talent they were born with and developed. Recently retired, Peyton Manning often shared two principles that enabled him to set records year after year during the course of his career.

1. After You Feel You Have Reached Your Best, Get Better!

Peyton set a total of 21 records in the NFL. He underwent four neck surgeries in 2010, and retiring would have been the easiest option. However, he refused to be satisfied with great. He knew there were levels he still could reach. Peyton aimed for levels no other quarterback had reached. He set his final five records after his “career-ending” surgeries, validating his decision to keep growing and pursue higher levels of accomplishment.

As independent agents, one of the most valuable products you bring to the dealership is the ability to motivate even the best performers to continue to grow.

While the products we offer can, to some degree, differentiate between us and our competitors, dealers are looking for more. Dealers want their agents to have the ability to make even the most successful business manager better. They need someone who can develop their team and motivate them to commit to the disciplines that will ensure consistent improvement. Growing those that represent your agency must be a priority, so they can in turn grow those they touch each month.

2. Review Your Performance Relentlessly Until You Can See What Others Don’t! 

Peyton’s coaches, from college to the NFL, say they have never seen anyone more committed to watching the films of previous games. Peyton was relentless in his pursuit to see things that others had missed.

The most effective way to know how a customer may react to a presentation, product or effort to overcome an objection is to know how they have done so in the past.

With numerous options available to have transactions recorded in the dealership, it is more compelling than ever to have the F&I team review the “films” of past deliveries. F&I managers who regularly review past delivery videos can see things that others miss. Film study can accelerate their growth and can help spot a counter-productive habit.

3. Outprepare Your Competitors!

Manning was neither the most athletic quarterback nor the strongest; he certainly was not the fastest. But no one can debate he was the most prepared. As independent agents, what differentiates us from others is the most important intangible product we offer: the ability to grow the dealership’s F&I team! Those that do it well will take their dealer partners to record levels!

I look forward to seeing you on my next post! Please feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas with F&I professionals is my passion!

Posted in F&I Success0 Comments

Sales Up, Guard Down!

Sales Up, Guard Down!

The car business exists in a constant state of flux. As independent agents, we have to step back and evaluate the business during the good and the bad times. Consistently growing the skills and knowledge level of all our team members is as critical when the money is flowing as it is in an economic downturn. It is simply human nature when things are going well to spend the money, take the business we have for granted and neglect the need to always be ahead of the competition. This leads to a “sales up, guard down” mindset.

The list of companies that let their guard down is filled with those that are trying to catch up in markets they used to lead. Names like Blockbuster, Kodak and Motorola strike immediate perceptions of companies that took their success for granted. At the height of their success, no one could imagine anyone challenging their domination of the market. Yet they were all surpassed by those who consistently worked to improve. I am more convinced than ever that perseverance plays the largest part of success.

Here are two things we can learn from those companies so we do not duplicate their mistakes:

1. Bad habits are developed during good times and have a way of revealing their consequences long after they have taken root. You must constantly be looking for ways to improve your products and services and stay one step ahead of your clients. Good companies don’t succeed by playing it safe and sticking to what they know; they’re always experimenting with new angles, new services and more efficient approaches. These efforts can seem unnecessary, or at least back burners in priority, when we have plenty of business and are growing year after year. However, the consequences of the lack of focus will eventually show up when the market slows down. The time to grow the skills of your team and fine-tune your processes to maximize profits is always; good times and bad!

2. It is critical to build a resilient, flexible business that is ready to take advantage of opportunities and respond to challenges in the market in days, not months. When the CEO of Blockbuster was told in 2008 that both Netflix and Redbox posed a threat to their dominance of the market, he responded with a defiant attitude.

“Neither Redbox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition,” he said. “It’s more Walmart and Apple.”

Blockbuster could not change because they would not change. They felt invincible! We all have been lulled to sleep by the sound of success; however, it must never silence the call for improvement. As independent agents, we are counted on to make dealers aware of changes in the market and how to address them. We must not be so engrossed in our current success that we lose the desire to help each dealership grow and change in order to stay out front of their competition. We help them grow when we grow.

Companies often develop good habits in bad times and bad habits in good times. Times are good now. Independent agents who find a way to grow in the good times will both survive and thrive during the inevitable downturns. But for now, make 2017 a record year and adjust and grow all the way through!

I look forward to seeing you on my next post! Please feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas with F&I professionals is my passion!

Posted in F&I Success0 Comments

The Ride Back Home

The Ride Back Home

During a cross-country rail trip to New York in early 1928, Walt Disney not only lost his cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but half of his animation staff to his film distributor. Before boarding the return train to California, Walt sent his brother, Roy, a telegram: “Don’t worry, everything OK.” On the train home, Walt contemplated a new character — a mouse, which he named Mortimer. His wife, Lillian, had a different idea, and Mickey Mouse was born. What can we learn from Walt’s ride home?

1. Your Attitude Toward Failure Will Determine Your Level of Success.

More important than how much loss you suffered as a result of a failure is what you will do next. You have two choices: You can be brutally honest with yourself, determine what part of the failure you are responsible for and embrace it, and start planning your comeback, or you can blame others, the weather, the economy or multiple things out of your control.

The stark reality is that others have faced similar challenges and have found ways to adjust, change, grow and create overwhelming success going forward. You can too! Failure is a stepping stone to a greater future and provides lessons that can only be learned when you have been knocked down. The correct attitude will assure you get back up and come back stronger than ever!

2. Not Getting the Clients You Want Can Be the Best Thing That Could Happen to You.

Not getting the results you expected is sometimes a stroke of good luck, because it forces you to reevaluate your skills and effort; it can open new opportunities and information you would have otherwise overlooked. Sometimes our efforts fall apart so that better things can fall together.

Failure enables us to see the importance of purging attitudes and techniques that aren’t working and need to be changed. And never forget that, no matter how many mistakes you make or how slow your progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn’t trying to improve and grow their skills.

I look forward to seeing you on my next post! Please feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas with agents and F&I professionals is my passion!

Posted in F&I Success1 Comment

The Number One Question

The Number One Question

An F&I professional who is committed to consistent growth in their ability to help customers knows that skills are not something to be demonstrated daily but something to be developed daily.

We know the two main ingredients that lead to a successful F&I office are great products and well-trained people. Dealers today demand we help them create consistent improvement in customer satisfaction and profit levels.

We need to take a look at where the F&I department is currently and then consider the question that follows: Where do we go from here and how do we get there?

Evaluation and the Law of Entropy

Each F&I manager should be evaluated as to where they are in their professional development. The numbers are the easy part. However, we must determine what activity each team member is involved in that will increase skill level and how often this activity takes place.

The law of entropy works in thermodynamics and in F&I offices. Simply stated, it reveals that any system or process that does not have fresh energy introduced into it on a regular basis will disintegrate into chaos over time. We must determine if an F&I manager is committed to growing up or just showing up. When “skill entropy” sets in, it will produce an effort that shortcuts the process and blurs the lines of compliant selling, both of which are unacceptable.

Once we know the production level and the current growth pattern of each F&I manager, now it is time to talk about where we’re going and how to get there. The goal should be consistent improvement month after month and a commitment to the activities that will assure that happens. Three elements are crucial to ensure that we facilitate a dealership environment that promotes growth:

1. Growth Must Be Pursued With Consistent Practice.

All professionals practice and F&I professionals are no exception. A training calendar should be developed monthly that clearly shows activities to be involved in on a daily basis. Spending 20 to 30 minutes each day to develop skills should be expected and tracked. Training then becomes viewed as a process, not a one-time event.

Everyone tracks performance. However, to motivate and move people to grow, you must track effort. We have seen numerous examples demonstrating the top performer in a dealership is the one who has the highest commitment to training. It reveals more than just completion of assignments. It’s a mindset that says no matter what level of success I obtain, there is always more to learn.

2. Growth Must Be Compensated.

Training activities on a monthly basis must be part of the F&I compensation plan. There are two ways to grow your skills: by instruction or by consequences. Including expected training activities in the monthly compensation plan provides consequences for those that want to demonstrate, more than develop, their ability.

We provide an online training program to dealers that incorporates a weekly training module which takes from 20 to 30 minutes to complete. Many dealers tell their F&I teams, “If you complete 100% of the training each month, I will pay for it. If you do not complete 100%, then you will pay for it.” If it’s important to the dealer, it will make it into the compensation plan. Including training in the compensation plan will let every F&I manager know there is the expectancy of growth and a commitment to the activities that make that happen.

3. Growth Must Be Celebrated.

When training milestones are reached, that should be celebrated. Many dealerships have a Saturday sales meeting where cash is handed out for accomplishments during the week. It not only provides instant gratification for a job well done, it tells everyone in the room that individual did a good job.

To many individuals, the recognition is as important as the money. Make Their Day, an employee motivation firm, recently surveyed 1,200 American workers. Among the study’s highlights: 76% found peer praise very or extremely motivating and 88% found praise from managers very or extremely motivating. And the reward of recognition in front of their peers was rated higher than monetary rewards. Growth that is celebrated is repeated in others.

If the growth of the F&I team demands daily practice, is tied directly to their compensation plan, and success is celebrated in front of their peers, then the question of where are we going and how we will get there has officially been answered. That is a recipe for success and a win for the dealer — and for the agent!

Rick McCormick is the national account development manager for Reahard & Associates Inc., an F&I training company providing classes, workshops, in-dealership and online training.

Posted in Training0 Comments

So God Made a Farmer …

So God Made a Farmer …

These words summarized what was arguably the best commercial of the Super Bowl XLVII in 2013. I have been a longtime fan of the man whose words graced the two-minute ad: Paul Harvey. Here is a short section of the ad:

God said, “It had to be somebody who’d plow deep and straight and not cut corners. Somebody to seed, weed, feed, breed and rake and disc and plow and plant and tie the fleece and strain the milk and replenish the self-feeder and finish a hard week’s work with a five-mile drive to church. So God made a farmer.”

Like farmers, independent agents must continually adapt and change to moving markets to succeed. I have many relatives in Alabama who are potato farmers. To adapt to new challenges, they became creative. They now utilize a GPS system that will plot the tractor’s course, allow it to drive itself and never waver more than an inch in planting row after row of potatoes. In doing so, they lowered their production cost and increased their overall profit.

The challenge for agents is to look for the most innovative products that appeal to a multigenerational market of customers. F&I managers must be trained to integrate technology into their presentation to provide customers a time-efficient and value-building process. Like farming, cars and customers’ buying motivations are changing at breakneck speed. Farmers that previously harvested cotton now grow another crop because conditions and markets changed.

The ability to recognize market changes early and pivot to more innovative products and training to support their sale gives you a competitive edge. Each year, every farmer and agent has to ask the same question: What do I need to change, update or adjust to yield a better outcome?

The training product you provide for the dealer is as important as any product they offer to their customers!

Growing profits for dealers depends largely on growing their people. Agents are strategically positioned to facilitate growth opportunities for their teams. The quality of the training you provide has a direct impact on F&I profits just as the quality of the seed affects the yield per acre of a farmer!

Providing product insights, consistent training and something as simple as monthly role-playing sessions providing input on strengths and opportunities for improvement will help grow the skills of each F&I manager.

Dealerships need an independent agent who can vet and update product offerings, provide monthly training for their staff, track performance, grow product sales and profits while maintaining high employee and customer satisfaction. Someone who can help motivate their staff, bring out the best in them and see that they are consistent in their production. That requires someone who works long hours, drives many miles and doesn’t cut corners. So God made a farmer … and independent agents. Thank God for both. Sell on!

Posted in F&I Success0 Comments

Page 4 of 6« First...23456