10 More Ways To Help Your Dealers Sell More Products!

By: Ron Reahard

10 More Ways To Help Your Dealers Sell More Products!

“He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else.” – Benjamin Franklin

There are three types of F&I managers: those who make good, those who make trouble, and those who make excuses. When asked, most F&I managers can provide you with a laundry list of excuses why they’re not doing better. In reality, excuses are the tools of the lazy that are used to build a monument to mediocrity.

For many F&I managers, a good excuse is actually better than good performance. Because no matter how great their performance is this month, it leaves them having to prove themselves again next month, and the month after that. Whereas, one good excuse can last for years.

In a previous article, we discussed 13.3 Ways To Help Your Dealers Sell More Products. Here are 10 more ways you can help your dealers and F&I managers turn obstacles and excuses into more product sales.

1. Don’t Buy In
As an agent, you hear lots of excuses. You have to listen. You need to show empathy. But you can’t buy in. Any agent who accepts an F&I manager’s excuses is investing in, and guaranteeing, poor performance. Top performers don’t make excuses, they make it happen. The fact is, performance only improves when the pressure to get it done exceeds the pain of actually doing it. As an independent agent, your focus must be on removing obstacles and eliminating excuses for your F&I managers. Your agency must be perceived by your dealers as having the resources, expertise, and commitment necessary to help them improvise, adapt, and overcome those countless excuses and endless obstacles in order to maximize F&I income, month in and month out.

2. Remember, Happiness Is A Good Deal
Utilize odd prices for every F&I product… $2,832 for that service contract, not $2,795. Odd prices add credibility and legitimacy to F&I product pricing, and reduce the customer’s perception that they need to negotiate the price of those products. Help your F&I managers establish a set price for each product, and then encourage them to stick to it. Any reduction in price must always require reciprocity- a reduction in coverage. The first time they ask a customer “If I could, would you…” their credibility goes in the toilet. They might as well go to work at the carnival. The same holds true for interest rates. Whenever possible, use odd interest rates– 5.41%, not 5.25%. Everyone needs to feel like they got a good deal!

3. What’s Old Is New
Obtain an old Owner’s Manual from the late 80’s or early 90’s for the brand of vehicle the dealership sells, and have the F&I manager keep it on the customer’s side of the desk. Chances are they have a box of old Owner’s Manuals in their storeroom, or get one on eBay for $10-$15. If it’s a Ford dealer, get one from a Ford Galaxie or an F150. If it’s a Nissan dealer, get one from a Datsun B210. Back then, the entire manual was maybe 3/8” of an inch thick. Today, with the radio and navigation system, they’re 4 inches thick, and printed on tissue paper. Keeping one on the F&I desk is a great way to engage the customer, and clearly illustrates in a very tangible way how much more technology there is in today’s vehicles, and why a vehicle service contract is more important than ever.

4. Reorganize Their Desk
In many dealerships today, there is a trend toward having the sales desk assume a number of the duties that historically have been the responsibility of the F&I department. Taking credit applications, pulling credit bureaus, submitting deals to lenders, and quoting payments and interest rates are often done before the F&I department is even involved in the sale. Every dealership, and every department in that dealership, needs a check and balance system.

It is absolutely essential that an F&I manager interview the customer prior to submitting the deal to a lender. He or she has to confirm the information is correct, as well as learn the details and circumstances surrounding any adverse information, to provide a paper buyer with sufficient reasons to justify an approval. Properly used in the customer interview, the credit application and credit bureau report can significantly increase the chance of obtaining an approval. More importantly, it provides the foundation for a needs-based product presentation in the F&I office.

5. Get Real!
Recording and reviewing actual F&I presentations is one of the best ways to see what’s really happening behind closed doors. Want to see an immediate improvement in F&I performance, profits and product sales at one of your dealerships? Start recording actual F&I transactions.

The camera doesn’t lie. How many needs discovery questions did the F&I manager ask? How many visual aids did she use? Did he use the information he learned about the customer as the reason they needed the product? Did she engage the customer in the process? How many times did he ask the customer to buy before giving up? If you want performance to improve, you have to hold your F&I managers accountable to following a proven process, and then use actual game film to help them improve their skills.

6. Discover, Recognize And Share!
Every F&I manager at every one of your dealerships has come up with a better way to do something. Whether it’s a visual aid, a way to engage the customer, or a new response to a problematic objection, the best ideas come from the people in the trenches. You have to discover, recognize and share those creative solutions to problems, with all your other F&I managers.

Successful agents are continuously on the lookout for new ideas, processes, and sales techniques. They also recognize the efforts of their F&I managers, and make them feel important. Whether it’s a simple weekly email, a monthly or quarterly newsletter, or $100 for the “Best Idea of the Month,” you have to continuously seek to discover new ideas and processes, recognize and reward those individuals who have come up with better ways to do something, and then share it with your other dealers.

7. Become Indispensable
I can always tell when an agent is indispensable. People are constantly wanting their input and expertise, because their primary goal in every interaction is to help the other person, not just themselves. As an agent, the more people you’re able to help on a daily basis, the more indispensable you become!

Obviously, you increase your value when you help your dealers make more money. But you become indispensable when you are perceived as a true partner in their success, not just a product provider. You have to become your dealers’ “go to” guy. One way to do that is to always get a prompt answer to their question, provide them with accurate information, and do the research they don’t have time to do. You become indispensable when you help your dealers find the right product provider, the right personnel, the best training, and help protect them by being AFIP Certified so you’re familiar with the laws and regulations their people have to comply with on a daily basis.

8. Practice Reality F&I
Not only do you need to ensure your managers set goals each month, you need to get them to show you how they’re going to achieve that goal. It’s easy to set a goal of $1200 per retail unit, but it’s virtually impossible to get there when you’re only averaging $500 profit per service contract and 25 percent penetration. You can’t possibly reach $1200PRU when you’re only averaging $125PRU in service contract income. It’s amazing how many F&I managers don’t establish written goals each month. And those that do set goals have no game plan of how they’re going to achieve their goals each month. As an agent, you have to help your F&I managers set realistic goals, help them see what it will take to achieve them, and monitor their performance vs. their objective.

9. If You Build It, They Will Come
Whether you call it “MultiShield,” “Titanium Protection,” or the “Pot Metal Plan,” grouping individual F&I products into a package, and then offering a discounted package price, increases the sale of all F&I products. There is nothing illegal, immoral or deceptive about incentivizing customers to buy multiple products. Package pricing makes it easier for a customer to decide on a group of products as opposed to evaluating each product separately. Too many choices, requires too many decisions, which results in too many “No’s.” You can’t possibly sell one customer seven products, but a customer can buy seven products, if they’re grouped properly, and you give them an incentive to buy a package.

10. Let’s Party!
As an agent, you have to continuously motivate F&I managers to sell your products. On a regular basis, you should have a contest, bring in a guest speaker, or have an annual golf outing for your F&I people. You need to build a team of F&I professionals who feel part of something bigger than themselves. If you create loyalty to you and your agency, those F&I managers will strive to sell more of your products. At least once a year, have an event that gets your F&I people out of the dealership to build camaraderie, allows them to interact with their peers, and recognizes them for their hard work. A guest speaker in the morning, followed by a golf outing in the afternoon, is a great way to combine business with pleasure. Or have a contest where the winner gets an all-expense paid trip for two to the F&I Conference in Las Vegas. They’ll have a good time, get some great training, and sell more of your products!

As an agent, you can’t buy-in to your F&I managers’ excuses. You have to help them get real, become indispensable to your dealers, and train and equip your F&I people for success. And more importantly, you have to continuously motivate them to succeed. Only by helping your dealers and F&I managers sell more products, will your agency sell more products.

This article was written by:

- has written 10 posts on Agent Entrepreneur.

Ron Reahard is president of Reahard & Associates, Inc., an F&I training company providing F&I classes, as well as in-dealership and online training. Ron conducted the workshop "F&I in an X & Y World" at the 2008 NADA Convention and "Closes That Always Get A 'Yes!'" at the 2009 F&I Conference & Expo. He can be contacted at 866-REAHARD or [email protected]

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