Tag Archive | "F&I training"

EFG Companies Launches Training Portal for F&I Managers


DALLAS — F&I product provider EFG Companies today announced the launch of a new dynamic digital portal designed to boost F&I producer knowledge, reinforce training learnings, and reduce the cost of a poor hiring decision for a dealership.

The EFG Learning Opps Through Virtual Engagement, or LOVE, was developed in response to complaints from dealers and general managers about the short-term impact of sending F&I producers to training. When training isn’t reinforced in the dealership, officials noted, improvements are quickly negated by diminishing returns.

“It’s clear that using multi-sensory learning methods with interactive tools better enables F&I managers to effectively deliver measurable results to a dealership’s bottom line,” said EFG Companies President and CEO John Pappanastos. “That’s why we developed EFG LOVE for our F&I class graduates.”

In addition to fortifying the lessons learned from EFG’s in-classroom training, EFG LOVE equips dealers with information and best practices on how to both sell to, and employ, the soon-to-be largest generation in the workforce with the most buying power — Millennials.

Numerous industry studies have shown that the automotive retail industry faces a recruiting and staffing crisis. The 2017 National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) Workforce Study reported that retail automotive suffered from a 43% turnover rate, an 88% attrition rate among female new hires, and a below average rate of Millennial new hires when compared to other industries. Additionally, 65% of dealers state that recruiting and hiring is their No. 1 challenge — greater than customer acquisition or generating revenue.

Officials note the company has placed hundreds of top performers at automotive dealerships across the country in its more than 40-year history. This has resulted in the deliberate buildout of a core-competency sourcing model to identify the core qualities of top performers. EFG LOVE pairs this top performer profile with industry statistics and trends to better enable dealers to develop high-performing teams.

“EFG LOVE helps shorten the onboarding time for new hires, keeps employees motivated, and accelerates the knowledge growth needed for a successful career,” said Steve Roennau, vice president of training and compliance with EFG Companies. “We created the content to enable the user to self-select actionable lessons in multiple digital formats. The more a producer can easily select materials that help them overcome their daily challenges, the more they will display the successful behaviors that they learned in our training.”

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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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Kia Motors America Has Renewed Its Agreement with JM&A Group


JM&A Group, one of the largest independent providers of finance and insurance (F&I) products in the automotive industry. Together, they will continue delivering top-rated service contracts and added protections for Kia customers.

KMA first partnered with JM&A in 2007 to grow its dealer programs using branded F&I products and extended warranty services known as the Kia Distinction. Today, 716 Kia dealers provide customers with at least one of JM&A’s industry-leading products. Of those, more than 400 are enrolled in five service offerings.

“We are thrilled to continue our relationship with Kia,” said Forrest Heathcott, President of JM&A Group. “We have great momentum and expect another excellent performance year. JM&A remains committed to providing automotive dealers with strategic support and we look forward to helping Kia maintain superior performance and growth.”

Kia’s suite of branded products includes vehicle protection plan, maintenance plan, road hazard tire coverage, Term Care Select, Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) and CPO Wrap programs, as well as Paintless Dent Removal coverage, an added benefit for consumers who want to maintain their vehicles’ appearance over time.

JM&A also provides Kia dealers with F&I Training in associate development, consumer-friendly sales methods, compliance, marketing and e-contracting. Over the last eight years, the partnership has helped Kia build customer loyalty, boost dealer profitability and establish its CPO program as the industry standard among non-luxury vehicle brands. Kia Distinction product sales have increased by 25 percent and the Kia CPO program continues to experience retail growth at 43 percent.

“Our customers’ satisfaction and peace of mind is our highest priority, and providing our dealers with the best possible F&I products and training in the industry helps us ensure that the needs of Kia customers will be met,” said, David Carp, Director of Fleet, Remarketing & CPO, Kia Motors of North America. “We look forward to continuing this relationship with JM&A and utilizing the tools they help us provide our dealers.”

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Reahard to Tackle Training at Agent Summit


LAS VEGAS — Organizers of Agent Summit V have announced that Ron Reahard, president of Reahard & Associates, will helm a session dedicated to Training at the event, which is scheduled for March 2–4 at the Venetian Palazzo Las Vegas.

“Ron Reahard’s name is well-know in dealer and agency circles as a top trainer and a pioneer in the F&I segment,” said David Gesualdo, show chair and publisher of Agent Entrepreneur and F&I and Showroom. “He is no stranger to Agent Summit and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for our attendees this year.”

Reahard’s address is titled “Training, Sir!” and will focus on strategies agents can use to expand upon the product-provider aspect of agency operations to become true business partners to their dealer clients.

“Ron has had many speaking appearances at Agent Summit, Industry Summit and NADA among others always delivering high quality take aways for all who attend,” said Randy Crisorio, president and CEO of United Development Systems Inc. (UDS) and chair of the Agent Summit advisory board. “We are pleased to have Reahard back on center stage for Agent Summit V.”

To register for Agent Summit or for more information, visit AgentSummit.com. Attendees who register by Feb. 1 will receive a $100 early-bird discount. For sponsorship and exhibition opportunities, contact Eric Gesualdo via email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 727-612-8826.

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Think Like A Customer


What do Starbucks, Apple, Fed-Ex and Dollar General all have in common? Each company had a crossroads moment when their business was in decline and the future was uncertain. Also each company had a turn-around that was based on an intentional effort to make changes that were based on what the customer thinks and wants.

Dollar General is a surprising company in the list above. However, their effort to adjust their business model, based on what their customers think, has led to 2800 new stores and 30,000 new jobs since 2004. All great company leaders have a clear understanding of their customers. It is the basis of why a company exists. It’s the foundation of an organization’s vision and strategy. Customers, if we listen to them, will tell us all we need to know to develop the right products and services to grow a viable business.

We all have an idea of what we think is the best way to present products. Should we talk about products immediately after meeting the customer, or after we have discovered why the customer needs them? When should we present the menu? Should we conduct a customer interview at the salesperson’s desk or in the F&I office? Should we use an iPad in our presentation or the traditional paper menu? The plain answer is: it really doesn’t matter what I think or what you think. What the customer thinks is what really matters! We should filter everything we do in the F&I office through the concept of “What does the customer think?” Customer behavior and preferences are changing frequently, and the same manner utilized effectively to present products several years ago is obsolete today. While the principles of selling are timeless, the manner in which they are carried out does change.

When the video rental market welcomed a new player called Red Box, there were others that said, “It will never work.” You see companies that refuse to change and adapt to customer behavior and preference and get left behind. F&I professionals who refuse to change do too! Let’s look at two important ways we need to adjust our presentation that matches what customers think and like.

Customers are interested in what they do and what they like.
If we stop talking about ourselves and listen and learn more about each customer, we will have the clues to what will lead them to buy. The most important tool in the F&I office is “you told me earlier.” When we repeat something a customer told us, they know they have been heard. Then the chances they will buy our products go up dramatically. Customers are not likely to buy our products because of what they hear, but because they feel they have been heard! There is a direct correlation between your ability to listen effectively and the level of your success. I have yet to find a top-producing F&I professional who doesn’t have superior listening skills.

Use the 70/30 rule.
Customers should be talking 70% of the time and we should be talking 30% during the time leading up to the menu presentation. That demands that we use open-ended questions to get them talking.
Recently while reviewing a video of an F&I transaction, I counted the facts that I learned from the conversation. I learned 12 facts about the F&I manager, including where they grew up, what they drive, what F&I products they buy and how long they have been in F&I. I learned five facts about the customer. I also watched the customer respond to the question “What brought you in to buy a car today?” She responded, “My husband has been given 12 months to live and he wants me to have a new car.” The F&I manager responded, “That is great. So what are you trading today?” Really! She wanted to talk about her husband and her family. Guess how many products they sold to that customer? You guessed correctly. Zero!

Getting customers to talk about themselves is not a trick to get customers to buy. It’s what they like to do. So let them! If we let them talk about what they do and what they like, they are more likely to be comfortable with the process and listen to what we have to say. That’s the goal. So stop talking and start listening more intentionally. Customers love to talk about themselves. Let them!

Customers want to know what their options are.
Customers like to review their options. They like a process without being pressured to buy a product that someone else thinks they need. They simply will not buy a product they don’t want and don’t think they need. Our effort to lead the customer to buy should only happen after we have established that they need the product in their eyes, not ours. Customers expect someone is going to pressure them to buy products they don’t want or need. What a relief when they find a different experience. You see, if we want to change the outcome of our F&I presentations, we must change the experience.

Remove the pressure from your presentation. When pressure goes down, customer resistance does too! When a customer says “No”, welcome it and agree with their decision. “Absolutely, the last thing you want to do is increase your payment. If you thought you were going to have problems with your new Lexus, you would buy something else. Am I right?” The pressure to buy just went out of the sales balloon and you now have the opportunity to follow up with, “You certainly don’t have to buy anything you don’t see value in. However you said something a minute ago that really got my attention.”

Use the menu as it was intended: to be a non-threatening disclosure of the customer’s options, not an effort to sell. Do not sell the first time through the menu. Just simply tell them what each product is and what it does. Even something as simple as the layout of the menu can put a customer at ease. They expect us to try and sell them an “extended warranty.” So if it is listed first on the menu immediately they think, “I knew they were going to try and sell me that,” and they stop listening to anything else we say. Why not list a product they are not familiar with first and list the service agreement further down the list? Customers might like it. And remember: it doesn’t matter what we like, it only matters what they like.

Starbucks didn’t offer free Wi-Fi or breakfast items until they listened to their customers. Fed-Ex didn’t develop the “total office experience” until their customers told them what they wanted. And Dollar General didn’t offer grocery items or new, clean and convenient locations until their customers told them what they expected. Customers have something to say. The question is: are we listening? And even more, are we willing to change to think like our customers and give them the experience they want? The answer to that question holds the keys to our future success!

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Raiders of the Lost Profit


There are a few ways dealerships lose profit, which they can fix right now. Here’s a look at some of the biggest offenders.

Monday Mornings
It’s the same every week: Monday morning you walk into the office, get your coffee and look at the stack of deals that are piled up on your desk from the weekend. By the end of the day on Saturday and Sunday, everyone just wanted to hurry up and get out of there, so this is how you start every week. The last thing you want to see on a Monday is a customer in the showroom when you have paperwork piled high from the weekend. Thank goodness there are only four Mondays in a month! You have to be more administratively sound so you can handle those deals quicker on Monday mornings, because you have a Monday every week. If we don’t deal with things quickly and efficiently on Mondays, then it can have a trickle-down effect into the rest of the week and can be a big way to lose profit.

CITs
Next we have CITs or Contracts in Transit – in other words, the money is not in the bank yet. And again Monday is just the start of it. CITs are like bananas: they start out nice and ripe, but then they just get riper, and then next thing you know you have to throw them away. It’s the same with CITs – the longer they sit on your desk before they get to the bank, the more the dealership is losing. That’s why at UDS, when we refer to a CIT, we call it a “Cash It Today.” If you can change your thinking on this, and get CITs cashed the same day, that will be one more way you won’t be losing profit.

There are several ways you can cash a contract today: self fund, eContracting, fax funding or overnight enveloping. If you want to get a deal cashed right away, utilize the most up to date processes, and use the checklists in deals. There are always checklists, but no one ever seems to utilize them – they just throw the list in there. That’s like flying without gas in the plane.

In F&I, you should be ironing out the most difficult challenges first. It’s human nature to have a tendency to save the worst for last, but that’s a terrible strategy in F&I because as those deals are waiting, the difficulties are getting worse. You have to go over the worst first, and only once they are handled can you move on to the easy ones. It’s the exact opposite of the way you did things in college when you would do the all the easy problems first on a test and then go back and save the hard ones for last.

Heat sheet meetings are important to ensure everyone is working for the same, common goal: to get the deal funded. This way, everything is not just riding on your shoulders; everyone has the same goal in mind. Depending on the size of the dealership, you should have meetings every day or every other day.

Internet, Credit Unions, Cash and Lease Deals
F&I managers have a tendency to work the deal if the customer is at the dealership, but if the customer is away from the dealership, an Internet or phone deal for example, the F&I manager will tend to take that deal and throw it on their credenza until the customer comes in. Unfortunately, what usually happens next is that when the customer does come in, they come in with pre-approved credit, a check or they may have already done their financing, leaving the F&I manager pretty much locked down. You have to be proactive, not just be reactive. You have to be out in the trenches, every day before you go to work, talking with management teams and sales consultants to find out what’s going on.

F&I has not really embraced the Internet shopper yet. Statistics have proven that in the last couple of years, 80-85% of customers are coming to us from the Internet. As a result, we’ve got to change our mindset. The Internet customer is probably more important to you than the ones on the floor. In fact the Internet customer has expressed an intention to come to you to buy that car, and the problem is we’re not ready to sell it to them. Instead we take them through this whole process and it just bogs them down. We are not Internet-savvy enough in F&I; we have to embrace those transactions. The biggest problem is that we don’t have a process for Internet customers – no one calls them and everyone waits for them to come into the dealership. That’s going to cost you tons of money. Get smart and use the phone, and be ready when they arrive; that’s what they want. Make it a big event when they arrive. You will sell more cars and make more money. It’s the same with credit union, cash and lease deals – we need to embrace those deals too.

We often ask the customers, “What’s the rate?” when we find out they are going to a credit union. Stop asking that question, and instead ask why they are going to the credit union in the first place. If they say it’s because that’s where they do all their business and they are loyal to them, then you’re not going to beat that, but if they say it’s because they are getting a great rate, then you’ve got something to work with. If you just ask them what the rate is, they aren’t going to tell you the truth; they are likely going to tell you they are getting a much lower rate than they actually are getting from the credit union.
Learn to embrace credit union, lease and cash deals the same as you would finance deals; they come with the territory. Remember, everyone faces the same perils of the road whether they are a lease, cash or finance deal. Slow down the deal and allow the process to drive your profits.

Attitude: YOU are the greatest challenge
Your attitude can make money or can displace money. If you have a really good attitude about every deal, then you’re going to make money. If you think you can, you probably will; if you think you can’t, you probably won’t. It’s all about attitude. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Am I part of the pitfalls of F&I? Am I a DO-er or a do NOT-er?”

Our attitude is usually dictated by the kind of deal we get in F&I. You have to look at every deal you have as an opportunity whether it’s a finance deal, cash or lease deal. We know that 80% of our money comes from a finance deal. So you have to set your menu up properly; I’ve witnessed F&I managers use the same menu whether it was finance, lease or cash and they will have products on their menu that the customer simply doesn’t qualify for. For example, they will have GAP on a menu where the customer is putting 50% down. Or they will have a service contract for 5 years or 75000 miles on a lease for only 3 years and it makes no sense! You have to tailor the presentation to the type of deal it is as well as the customer’s driving criteria, which you will find out during the introduction.

Lost Opportunities in the Service Drive
A lot of F&I managers are relying on the service managers to do their job for them. It is the F&I manager’s job to hold the service manager accountable to send them referrals. Instead of going in the front door, they should go in the service walk every morning and ask, “Hey, what’s going on? Have you got any deals today? Do you have any customers who are almost out of their factory warranties that I can talk to?” Instead of relying on the service manager to bring you the deal, you need to be proactive.

Mysteriously Appearing Deals, or Dude Where’s My Car?
Form an alliance with the sales staff. Go out and really talk with them and find out what kind of appointments they have going on. You have to have a willingness to manage deals, even if the customer isn’t at the dealership – that is the biggest challenge. Utilize your CRM, Customer Retention Tool. You have to have access to that tool and use it consistently, because it’s the eyes and ears of the sales and sales management staff, in order for you to be proactive and know what’s going on.

Multiple Product Sales
F&I managers don’t really follow a menu process that allows them to get multiple products. Often times they rely on the banks’ call back, and the banks frequently limit their callbacks to the number of products they can sell. They rely on how the deal was structured at the desk, and if the desk cuts them out then they feel that they can’t sell any more products. This is a lost profit opportunity because you can offer every product to every single customer – it’s in the manner in which you do that. Sometimes you may be locked out, but you can tell the customer, “Look, we are making these products available to you. Some of them we can finance and some of them we can’t. If you are interested, then we will find a means to get you into those products.” We should always tell them this because there are all sorts of ways you can do it, such as repayment plans. You can’t allow the call back or the sales desk to dictate your destiny in F&I.

Follow the 300 Rule, which is this: Present 100% of the products to 100% of the customers 100% of the time (assuming they qualify). Every customer must have the opportunity to at least know the products available to them. Consider the ABC’s of F&I: The A is always ask permission. When I was a kid, I was taught to say, “may I.” If you said, “can I,” then the adult would tell you that you couldn’t, but if you were polite they would respond, “Yes, you may.” So you learned to be polite and ask permission. The B is for break down the options. Instead of breaking down products on a menu, or any type of presentation you have, break down the options and narrow the choices. You have four columns on the menu – you might have six or seven products on the first column, that’s six or seven choices. You want to make that so that it’s one option. You break down the options, and therefore you only have four choices that the customer has now, instead of six or seven. C stands for close on the options, don’t close on individual products. When a customer says, “I’ll take GAP; I had it on my last car.” You respond with, “Great, which option would you like it in?” rather than just saying okay.

Utilize a final disclosure. The menu should be used as a disclosure, and the final disclosure should be your waiver. If you look at the F&I menu as a selling tool, then you are looking at it the wrong way. It’s nothing more than a disclosure after you give a presentation.

Finally, tell your story, don’t sell your story! Tell your story as you expose your products on the menu. Sell your story after you’ve exposed all your products on the menu. There’s a difference between a feature and a benefit. The feature is the tell, the benefit is the sell. You want the feature presentation initially, then after you do the feature presentation, you do the benefits presentation. That would be the sell.

Don’t let excuses get in the way of your strengths. The bottom line in avoiding lost profit opportunities is to consistently use effective processes, proper procedures and to always have a positive attitude. A bad attitude is like a flat tire; it will never get you anywhere. Remember these tips and soon you will be busy counting your profits and not thinking about your lost opportunities!

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