Tag Archive | "F&I Manager"

EFG Companies: Dealers Must Embrace Industry Paradigm Shift


DALLAS, Texas — Staffing and customer engagement models are the top issues impacting the future health of the retail automotive industry, EFG Companies President and CEO John Pappanastos said today.

The F&I product provider’s chief executive delivered his comments as part of a state of the industry address the company posted on its website. Pappanastos encourage dealership principals and senior managers to quickly address those issues or risk becoming a dinosaur in today’s rapidly changing consumer car-buying mode, noting that digital buying habits, millennial and Gen Z consumers, and women are forcing industry change.

According to the National Automobile Dealers Association’s 2017 Workforce Study, retail automotive suffered from a 43% turnover rate — up two points from 2016. Additionally, the automotive industry experienced an 88% attrition rate among female new hires, and a below average rate of millennial new hires when compared to other industries.

Pappanastos said many retail automotive businesses lack a comprehensive plan to become an employer of choice, and instead rely heavily on traditional “bell-to-bell” hours, commission-only payment plans, and limited training. He urged them to immediately develop a strategy for hiring, training, and promoting the best and brightest employees to operate in a world where consumers are demanding a more digital process with a better customer experience.

The executive noted that a single poor hiring decision in F&I can easily result in up to $75,000 in lost profit due to onboarding costs and lost production, adding that the retail automotive industry’s focus on daily operations also hampers leadership development and obscures the growth path for millennial hires who, as a group, require opportunities for promotion.

The F&I product executive also touched on recent research from Cox Automotive, which showed that 80% of consumers want to complete at least half of the car-buying process digitally. He also cited a 2018 Deloitte study showing that “dealers create a fragmented and inconsistent approach to the customer,” which leads to inefficient customer contact, inconsistent messaging, and ultimately failure to sell and build loyalty.

“While I realize change is difficult, dealership principals must incorporate greater consumer-facing digital platforms into their dealerships,” said Pappanastos, adding that hiring employees who are experts in online customer engagement and digital sales approaches represents one solution. “Failure to do so will result in lost revenue. We must remember the old adage of ‘meet the customer where they are.’ And today’s customer is clearly online.”

Pappanastos also encouraged dealerships not to lose sight of compliance. “Job skills are easy to assess. What’s difficult is finding candidates who have solid character,” the executive said. “During these tumultuous times, dealerships must maintain a high degree of integrated compliance. The resulting fines, and damage to reputation, can result in significant business loss due to very clear and public online postings and reviews.”

Pappanastos remarks during his state of the industry address focused on the future health of the retail automotive industry and sounded a wakeup call to dealership principals to quickly embrace changing consumer buying preferences. He also encouraged future millennial and Gen Z employees to seek out careers in retail automotive, noting that exciting changes and their opportunity to make industrywide impact.

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Safe-Guard Canada Announces New Montreal Training Facility


ATLANTA — Safe-Guard Canada today announced the opening of a new training facility located just outside of Montreal to better service Quebec clients and their dealers.

The new location will allow Safe-Guard to broaden retail training and development support for dealers within Safe-Guard’s client roster, including BMW Canada, Harley-Davidson Financial Services, Honda Financial Services, Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Nissan Canada Extended Services Inc., Porsche Financial Services, and North American Automotive Group.

Safe-Guard offers a wide range of retail training and development, including certification courses, regional workshops and meetings, and train-the-trainer opportunities. The new Montreal facility includes a boardroom to host corporate and dealer personnel, a large training room that will be utilized for multi-lingual training, and business offices staged like real F&I offices to simulate real-world scenarios.

Safe-Guard’s F&I training curriculum includes product knowledge, sales techniques, compliance basics, and the customer experience — all led by expert Safe-Guard sales and training staff with real-world dealer and F&I experience.

“We’re very excited about the opening of our new Montreal training office,” said Scott Ashby, general manager of Safe-Guard Canada. “Our new facility will allow us to better service our Quebec partners and coach them on the latest F&I product knowledge, how to build value for their customers, as well as compliance standards in order that we can help them grow their businesses and create long-term customers.”

Safe-Guard has been serving Canadian customers since 2001 and has their main office in Mississauga, Ontario. The new Safe-Guard Canada sales and training facility in Montreal opened April 1, 2018.

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Innovative Lending Releases Loan Management Tool for F&I Offices


CHICAGO — Innovative Lending Solutions LLC announced the release of Stip Trac, an automotive loan management system designed to help dealers track cash flow, collecting necessary loan documents, or stips, and keeping an open communication line with car buyers before and after their purchase.

Stip Trac features a dashboard that allows users to track cash owed by a bank, set “contact-in-transit” limits, and track money in transit by salesman. It also provides status updates on any deal in transit, held at dealership, funded, etc. Users can also look up the age of a deal and missing stips, as well as add internal notes that can be viewed by all parties involved with the loan.

Stip Trac also allows dealers to add additional stips to a loan at any time, push welcome calls to the bank, and gain real references and referrals from customers. It also provides users with a “contact list” on their cell phone, and the ability to approve or deny stips as they are received.

The new tool also features a custom messaging so users can send an urgent message to the car buyer. It also offers automatic push notifications and a dealer-branded app that allow users to monitor a loan’s progress on their smartphones.

For the consumer, Stip Trac helps protect them from identity theft. It can also eliminate additional trips to the dealership to drop off loan-related documents, speeding up the finance process at the dealership.

“Stip Trac is a needed tool to improve the automotive loan process for car dealerships and consumers. Using Stip Trac removes a lot of the stress that today’s finance managers are facing today,” said Ed Maisonneuve, president and CEO of Innovative Lending Solutions LLC. “We truly built this so the delivery process is a smooth one. As a finance manager, I can’t tell you how many times a deal came into my office with missing documents, bad references, missing signatures. StipTrac 100% eliminates that.”

For more, visit www.StipTrac.com.

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American Financial Adds Trainer to F&I University Staff


American Financial & Automotive Services, Inc. is pleased to announce the addition of John Vecchioni to their team. John joined American Financial in July as a trainer with F&I University (FIU), a division of the Automotive Training Academy (ATA). John brings over 20 years of retail and training experience, and lends a comprehensive perspective to F&I, sales, and compliance. John’s training philosophy creates growth, both professionally and culturally. He is known for championing logical and conversational selling techniques.

John has the honor of being one of the Master of Ceremony speakers at the Industry Summit, taking place on August 29-31 at Paris Las Vegas. American Financial will also be conducting a workshop titled, “Needs Discovery Without the Interrogation,” which will be led by Dwayne Wiggins, F&I University Trainer. Be sure to visit American Financial at the Summit and welcome John to the team!

FIU provides cutting-edge F&I curriculum and online continuing education for today’s business manager. FIU is also at the forefront of digital solutions to streamline the business office by offering training on tablet technology and benefits analysis software.

Centered at the core of American Financial’s offerings are customized in-dealership development, the MasterTechTM F&I product suite, the ATA, FIU, and Compliance Programs.

For more information on how American Financial can assist your dealership, e-mail email hidden; JavaScript is required or visit www.AFASinc.com.

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F&I and Showroom Now Accepting F&I Dealer of the Year Nominations


TORRANCE — The search for F&I and Showroom’s next F&I Dealer of the Year starts today. Dealers, agents, F&I product providers, finance sources and technology vendors have until Friday, July 8, to nominate their dealership or client.

To complete the online nomination form, click here. Supporting materials for a nominee, such as newspaper clippings or awards announcements, can be emailed to email hidden; JavaScript is required.

“We’re not necessarily looking for that $1,500-per-copy F&I operation, although we’ve had a few F&I Dealers of the Year performing at that level,” said Gregory Arroyo, editorial director of F&I and Showroom and Auto Dealer Today. “What we’re looking for is the story behind the numbers. Is the dealership committed to regulatory compliance? Has the F&I team been together a long time? What does the organization’s online reviews and ratings look like? Is it active in the communities it serves?”

For the sixth straight year, The Warranty Group is sponsoring the competition. “It is with great pleasure that we once again sponsor this award,” said Charlie Robinson, President and COO of Resource Automotive, a subsidiary of The Warranty Group. “What I most appreciate about this award is that it recognizes not only top-performing F&I operations, but organizations that do it the right way, are committed to the communities they serve, and exemplify the very best this industry has to offer.”

The magazine will first select six finalists, or what F&I and Showroom refers to as F&I Pacesetters of the Year. A representative from each organization will be invited to Industry Summit 2016 (Aug. 29-31), where they’ll be honored during a special ceremony. They’ll also receive a two-night stay at the Paris Las Vegas, the site of this year’s conference, and a complimentary full-conference pass.

Dealerships selected as F&I Pacesetters will also be profiled in the magazine’s special conference issue and the September edition of F&I and Showroom magazine.

At the conclusion of the special ceremony, one finalist will be named the 2016 F&I Dealer of the Year. That dealership will appear on the cover of the magazine’s November issue, which will include a four-page profile on the organization. Past winners include David-Moore AutomotiveVaden Automotive GroupSerpentini Chevrolet of StrongsvilleLithia Motors Inc.Riverside Auto GroupThe Suburban Collection, and Tuttle-Click Automotive Group.

To nominate your dealership or dealer client today, click here. For questions about the online nomination form, please email email hidden; JavaScript is required.

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AutoNation’s F&I Operations Posts $1,538 Per-Copy Average for 2015


FORD LAUDERDALE, Fla. – AutoNation’s F&I operations, or what the group refers to as Customer Financial Services, lived above $1,500 in F&I gross profit per vehicle retailed (PVR) in 2015, with the business unit’s full-year revenues rising by $100.5 million from 2014.

The group’s F&I operation’s full-year PVR average was $1,538, up $124 from 2014. For the fourth quarter, the business unit’s PVR average came in at $1,556, up $109 from 2014’s end-of-year quarter.

Total F&I revenue for 2015 increased 13.5% from a year ago to $846.1 million. For the fourth quarter, revenues increased 14.4% from the year-ago period to $210 million.

The nation’s largest dealer group posted full-year revenue of 20.9 million, up 9% from the prior year. Total gross profit was $3.3 billion, up 9% from the year-ago period. Operating income for the full year was $873 million, an increase of 6% over the prior year.

“Our primary assumption for 2016 industry new-vehicle unit sales is above 17 million for the year,” said Mike Jackson, the group’s chairman, CEO and president.

For the fourth quarter 2015, revenues totaled $5.3 billion, up 6% from the year-ago period. Total gross profit was $812 million, up 4% from the year-ago period, while operating income fell 12% to $200 million.

Retail new-vehicle sales for the fourth quarter increased 4% from a year ago to 86,740 units. For the full year, the dealer group bested 2014 sales by more than 21,000 units for a total of 339,080 units sold.

“The fourth quarter industry sales environment was more push than pull, resulting in significant new- and used-vehicle margin declines on a combined basis of $217 per vehicle, which is 11% lower than the fourth quarter of 2014,” Jackson noted. “During the quarter, we experienced particular weakness in premium luxury, which had a significant impact on our fourth quarter financial results.

“We have begun and will continue through the first quarter to take necessary steps to align our cost, inventory and pricing strategy to the current market,” he added.

On a same-store basis, gross profit for variable operations was $450 million in the fourth quarter, down 4% from the year-ago period. Variable gross was $3,350 on a per vehicle retail basis, a decrease of $125 from the prior year, while new and used same-store unit volume was flat compared to the year-ago period.

Additionally, new-vehicle revenue for the fourth quarter was $3 billion, a $61 million increase from a year ago.

Jackson noted that 2015 was a historical year for AutoNation, as the group celebrated the sale of its 10 millionth vehicle. “We implemented our industry-leading recall policy,” he added. “We acquired 51 franchises with approximately $1 billion in annual revenue, and we built our brand and kicked off our drive pink campaign from coast to coast.”

Asked if the auto finance environment will remain a key driver of sales — particularly with a million more off-lease vehicle returning to the market — Jackson responded, “I see absolutely no sign of difficulties in auto finance.”

“I first think on the consumers’ commitment to pay for the car loans, whether it’s lease or finance,” he added. “It’s unwavering. So no alarm bells there.”

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