Channel | Industry

Top Agents Talk About PVR

John Braganini, Mike Conley, Randy Crisorio, John Peterson, Michael Tuno and Glen Tuscan take a look at the metrics that define PVR and share their proven methods to increase it
By: Staff Writer

Top Agents Talk About PVR

Per vehicle retail (PVR) has long been the measuring stick of F&I success.  While it is a useful tool, it clearly does not tell the whole story. In the simplest terms, PVR – also referred to as per retail unit (PRU) – consists of two components: finance or lease reserve and the profit from F&I products. Randy Crisorio, president and CEO, United Development Systems, Inc. (UDS), describes it this way, “The most common formula for PVR is to take all the vehicles and all the income divided by the number of vehicles that were delivered and come up with an average. One of the most common averages is $1000 PVR/PRU.”

In the last few decades, PVR numbers have seen a great change. Today, numbers are significantly higher than they were in the past. Mike Conley, CEO, Conley Insurance Group, says things are much different now than when he got started 25 years ago. “Stores that were producing $500 per vehicle were considered to be well performing. In the last decade, this number snuck up to $1000 per vehicle. Now the new normal seems to be a goal of $1500 per retail.”

Other top agents we spoke with stated similar ranges for today’s typical PVR. Michael Tuno, president, World Class Dealer Services, Inc., says they do not like to see anything under $1,000 for PVR, regardless of the manufacturer. Glen Tuscan, president, Dealer Commitment Services describes a solid number for his stores as $1,200 PVR with a maximum of 40% of reserve in that number.

Depending upon the area and the dealership, John Peterson, president, The Oak Group, lists a typical range of PVR from $1,000 – $1,800 or even as high as 1,900. He believes the most important thing in attaining the maximum PVR is doing things properly – in a compliant fashion and having the accountability that allows for tracking using electronic reports.

Data Tracking Systems – Invaluable Tool or Unnecessary Expense?

Many agents take advantage of tracking or reporting software that is readily available through a variety of industry sources. The software allows data to be broken down in many ways, providing detailed information about everything from the individual performance of F&I and sales managers to specifics on each F&I product sold and PVR excluding lease and fleet vehicles. The data is mainly taken from DMS and menu systems and broken down into specific categories – all of which can be viewed in real time by the agent.

Some agents, such as Crisorio, say the reporting software is worth every penny. If you can’t show exactly how each F&I manager is performing and gather information about each product sale, you can’t use the information to improve things. He also views the real time availability of data as vital. “We don’t want to get to the end of the month and it be an autopsy. If performance died three weeks ago and you don’t find out until the end of the month, you are dead in the water. Once the month is gone, you can’t recover the money. In my opinion, awareness is the biggest piece of PVR. Setting expectations and having ready awareness is one of the pathways to success in F&I.” UDS has used tracking software for over 12 years and before that Crisorio did it manually. In the old days, calculations were done manually by the F&I manager and given to the agent. Crisorio says he would then actually draw graphs by hand and Xerox and distribute them each month.

Peterson too, feels electronic reporting is absolutely necessary. “You can’t improve something you can’t measure. Having the processes and taking accurate measurements is very important. If a dealer is not achieving the desired PVR, there is great value in being able to determine the reason why – is it the lack of sales of a particular product or perhaps it is a particular person who is underperforming.”

Other agents view reporting software or tracking systems as beneficial, but not essential. To fully realize the benefits of the system, complete dealer buy-in is a must and not all dealers want to use the systems. Some dealers fail to use it consistently and others use it improperly. In some cases, an agent may view a smaller dealership as not being worth the cost of utilizing such software.

Conley says he has dealerships that are just as successful without utilizing tracking software as other dealerships that do use the tracking software. “It is a great tool but is an awfully expensive way to get information that should be provided as a part of the DMS. The information it provides is readily available on the DMS but it is not as easy to access. The benefit of the software is that it is an automated process. The data from each day is emailed to agents nightly, allowing them to keep a close watch on everything that is going on inside the dealership. They get addicted to having that up to the minute reporting emailed to them daily. It is a beneficial tool but a good F&I manager is going to be a good F&I manager regardless.”

Another potential downside with the reporting software is the time the agent must devote in order to take full advantage of the software’s numerous capabilities. Conley says some dealers who are particularly computer savvy produce their own reports, obtaining the data directly from the DMS. Is the answer simply taking the time to teach dealers how to extract data from the DMS and put it into a report? Would that make the need for costly software unnecessary? Conley thinks that is at least part of the problem. He says agents can be lazy in helping dealers to effectively write a report. Perhaps if they devoted the time to do this, the reporting software would not be an issue.

Analyzing PVR

There are additional ways PVR can be broken down. The first is to look at products per retail unit (PPRU). This is described as a good measure of where the metric PVR ultimately needs to be – and whether or not it is healthy. The numbers we heard for achieving a solid PPRU were two to three products per vehicle. Another is profit per financed retail unit (PFRU). This is a good indicator of whether a dealership is relying too heavily on reserve – or not enough.

Using their reporting software, Crisorio says the first value they use is lease and fleet excluded. He refers to this as true retail. The next is lease per retail unit. On a lease transaction, the customer is usually sold on a monthly payment before entering the F&I office. Historically, finance managers have pushed lease deals away because they could not make the big finance reserve. With leases at an all time high – currently making up nearly 30% of sales – lease deals are now more important than ever.

Another reason to use tracking software is that it provides the ability to determine when a system is followed and when it is not – thus letting the agent identify exactly where a problem is, so it can be targeted and corrected. “Being able to track it is critically important,” says John Braganini, principal of Great Lakes Companies, “The ultimate goal is to identify situations and issues within the dealership that can be corrected in order to bring the PRU back up to where the dealership wants it to be.”

The results from the tracking software provide a good picture of what an F&I manager is doing and not doing. For example, if all the products are being presented on a menu, they are kept in the deal folders. The reports will show if a menu was properly presented. Crisorio explained, “The menu is presented in three pieces and there is a date and time stamp on each piece. First, there is the presentation piece and then the final piece shows what they bought and didn’t buy. If the final piece is run 13 seconds after the first part, then all of this was done without a menu. The audits prove invaluable in looking for individuals who undermine or distort the selling system.”

If someone is underperforming then the answer may be to enroll him or her in the next training school. This is the standard recourse according to Crisorio, “We want to make sure we are supporting them in every way, because we don’t make a dime until something gets sold. They don’t send us checks every month because they like us. If they don’t sell any products, we don’t make any money.” They offer regular live training as well as webinars, UDS TV, a partner portal and F&I tip of the week – all to provide constant support and keep F&I managers performing at their best. As a rule, Crisorio says their objective is to make a star out of the F&I manager. By doing this, they will earn more; stay in that role longer and the dealer will be more profitable. This, of course will result in a long-term relationship with the agent – who will ultimately be rewarded for the performance of the F&I manager.

Braganini has F&I managers utilize a self-reporting tool as part of their data management system. On the deals where all the subprocesses were conducted properly, he reports a significantly greater PRU.

Training

All agents agreed that training is extremely important – and even more beneficial when it can be used after targeting those who most need it and utilizing the data provided about the breakdown of PVR. “Training, whether online, in-store or in classroom is essential,” says Conley, “For most of our clients, the products we sell are not as important as the training we offer.  Our clients rely on us to help them maximize profit, but to do so in a consumer friendly and legally compliant way.  Without ongoing training and continuous commitment to improvement, the ‘new normal’ cannot be realized.”

Tuscan says when it comes to PVR, his focus is strictly on F&I type products and he is cautious when he sees PVR numbers listed in the $1,300 – $1500 range. “I have seen people boast of record numbers out there and as I see those numbers, I question if they are real F&I products or if they include aftermarket, accessory-type products. I don’t focus on after market type accessories that would be added into F&I numbers – accessories being window tint, clear mask and those types of items, which simply are not F&I products. Those are accessories.”

Braganini referred to another management approach known as throughput analysis – looking at only how many units were sold and how many dollars were generated at the end of the month, without managing the process or breaking down the data. “You have to basically guess at what to do to change it the next month or you have to live with it. I have never been a fan of this because you are going to guess wrong most of the time. I would rather track each step in the sales process.”

Maximizing Profits and Working with the Sales Department

To truly maximize profits, the F&I office and the sales team need to share common goals and work together to achieve them. This relationship is very important in maximizing PVR. Customers tend to be very guarded about committing additional time in a dealership, once they have decided to purchase a vehicle. For this reason, it is imperative that the sales department breaks the ice by properly setting customers up, educating them about all the features and benefits of their new vehicle and pointing out the areas that are not protected. This way, they allow for a seamless handover to the F&I office. “To maximize F&I income,” says Braganini, “you have to have both departments working together and often, they just don’t do a very good job of it because they have different objectives.”

Explaining the features of a vehicle’s smart key and it’s replacement cost to a consumer who’s trade in had a key that could be copied cheaply at a hardware store, is an important part of making the consumer aware of the potential cost of replacing that new $600 key with a computer chip. By doing this, the sales person provides a perfect set up for F&I to offer key replacement and for the customer to see its value. It is the same with other products. As the sales department educates consumers of the features and benefits of their new car and the customer sees what is not covered, the F&I department can then come to the rescue by offering products to completely wrap the new vehicle in protection.

To say a new car has “bumper-to-bumper” warranty, simply is not true. Tuno says using this term is just plain lazy. “Cars typically come with six to eight different warranties on the battery, tires, paint, etc. and that needs to be clearly explained to the customer. Then we can explain the value and the convenience of what we call a warranty-guarantee program – which is really prepaid maintenance – because if you don’t change your oil and maintain that vehicle, the manufacturer will not cover you for any of that warranty. If two wheels can cost a thousand dollars each to replace and the customer is under the impression that they have a three year, bumper to bumper warranty, their mindset is ‘Great, I don’t have to worry about anything.’ It’s not a question of worrying, it’s ‘these are your driving habits and these are your driving needs – what’s going to be important to you over the course of your ownership?’ And there’s no shortage of products to take care of their needs.”

Other factors that come into play involving the sales department are desking compliance, how the customer is handed over to F&I and the delivery conditions of the vehicle. Some agents pointed out the importance of not using the F&I department to close too many deals. This responsibility requires a realistic sales manager. If he isn’t, the dealer has to make the decision to let the practice continue or not. If a customer wants unreasonable financial terms, a decision must be made as to what percentage of sales are acceptable being turned over to the F&I office to close the deal. A reasonable estimate might be that 90% of people coming into a dealership to buy a car have a pretty good idea of what they can buy on a monthly budget or on a pricing schedule. Therefore, using the F&I office to close deals probably should not occur in more than 10% of deals.

The turnover – how the customer is introduced and greeted, and the time it takes to get into the F&I office, affect a customer’s mood and attitude. Also, the delivery conditions are significant. Having everything ready to go when the customer comes in to pick up the vehicle and handling the exit interview professionally are both key factors that require a good working relationship and common goals between F&I and the sales department. Braganini noted, “You have a better chance to increase PVR if the customer does not come in and have to wait for a long time. It puts the customer in a sour mood if paperwork is not completed after two hours and their car is not ready.”

The sales manager can take the lead by establishing a process for how customers are turned over to F&I. By making it clear when hiring sales people that they are expected to introduce customers to the finance manager at the point of sale – without exception – they can lay a foundation that will prevent this from becoming an issue at all.

Tuno says the people who are really good at it manage the process, train their people, have talent and have consistent pay plans that push both sales and F&I departments in the right direction. “Pay plans ultimately are job descriptions. The one that is the killer is if we just give them 10% of the whole department. What is forcing F&I departments to sell F&I products in that environment, when the desk is giving them 70% of their income from reserve? The answer is nothing. It’s just human nature.”

Peterson says that having a good pay plan along with goal setting clearly lets people know what is expected of them. He lists the four keys to success in F&I and pointed out that they carry over to all professions: goal setting, accountability, education and compliance.

Having a well rounded offering of products and being very good with all your products is also a foundational part of ensuring a top performance according to the top agents we spoke with. To maximize PVR, an agent must be able to present the products that best fit the customer’s needs – whether it is a cash, lease or finance deal – both at high-end and lower-end dealerships. We will analyze the importance of product offerings, and all the dynamics involved, in detail in a follow up article.

Advice for the Future

As F&I becomes an increasingly critical piece of a dealership’s profitability, the challenge is not only maintaining a healthy PRU, but also for the F&I office to take steps to ensure they are not on the slippery slope that regulators are sure to focus on. Just as caution needs to be taken in pricing interest rates, consistent pricing of F&I products may be the next shoe to fall. Tuno says the abusive practices of charging a customer $1995 for a product that actually costs $100 are gone. He says the footnote to making sure you are achieving a good PVR and doing a robust amount of product sales is to price consistently. “This will keep you out of harm’s way and ensure that you have not abused or intentionally caused protected classes to have to pay more for a product. You can go to any number of regulatory workshops and learn that pricing products consistently is a best practice. But dealers are their own worst enemy.”

Peterson also emphasizes the importance of accountability. He says with all the regulations out there now – CFPB, Dodd Frank, etc. – being able to measure performance becomes imperative in maintaining accountability.

Clearly, the advice from these top agents can be summed up as: be aware, manage the process through detailed reporting, ensure a good working relationship between sales and F&I, train your people well, offer a wide array of products and know them all, and don’t view any deal as a throw away deal. Tuscan concludes, “You have to have total focus and the same commitment to each different type of buyer as well as a solid, well rounded product offering. That, to me is how you will achieve a solid number for PVR.”

This article was written by:

- has written 879 posts on Agent Entrepreneur.

Staff writers for Agent Entrepreneur are professional journalists. Industry-specific information is reviewed by topic experts to ensure accuracy.

Contact the author

The views expressed by the authors and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Agent Entrepreneur or any employee thereof.

Leave a Reply

*