Tag Archive | "F&I"

The Great Equalizer!


In the second half of the 19th century, the new frontier west of the Mississippi was affectionately called “The Wild West.” During this time, most referred to a six-shooter as the “great equalizer.” It enabled a small man to chop a much larger one down to size.

With all of the fast-paced changes and challenges we face daily in our business, we also have a great equalizer: It’s called “desire.” Desire drives many to seek and attain what others deem impossible, unattainable or beyond reasonable expectation. Those that are driven by a strong desire to perform at levels not previously seen have brought us some of the most profitable and life-changing products and performances of our day. Let’s look at two principles of desire that can move us to create that level of performance as well.

1. Remove the Word ‘Impossible’ from Your Vocabulary!

Henry Ford, who had little formal education, was not a financial success until after he was 40 years old. Once the assembly line marvel had set the entire industry ablaze, Henry called all of his engineers together and said, “Build me a V-8 engine.” These brilliant men with degrees in physics and mathematics knew this was “impossible.” But they humored him and gave it a shot.

On three different occasions, they came back with the same conclusion: This is impossible. After multiple attempts, Ford demanded one more time, “Gentlemen, I must have a V-8 engine and you’re going to build it for me. Now go do it.” And the age of the V-8 engine was born.

If you’re not trying to do the impossible, you’re simply not trying hard enough.

Desire moves us to strive for levels of production and customer satisfaction that have yet to be attained. As independent agents, you must not only demand this of yourselves, you must be an agent of the impossible to the dealerships you serve. This enables us to turn F&I “caretakers” into F&I “risk takers,” and the results border on the impossible.

2. Obstacles are the Stepping Stones to Progress, Not Roadblocks to Success.

An insatiable desire for success will cause you to look at obstacles differently than others. Elvis was told he couldn’t sing, Michael Jordan was told he was not good enough for his high school basketball team, and Steve Jobs was told the iPhone was impossible. The fact that each of these renowned individuals faced obstacles is not the issue. It’s how they viewed the obstacles. They saw them as a distortion of the truth and a stepping stone to get to their destination. And they did get there!

We have all heard the many reasons for failure and, at times, said them ourselves. I know I have! It’s the economy, the weather or others around me holding me back. And the trump card of them all: My customers are different!

All of these may truly be factors that challenge the ability to succeed. However, those that have the “great equalizer” see them as intruders on their journey and fight through them. This enables those who may have less education, talent, charisma and opportunity to far outproduce those with more natural skills and seemingly endless opportunities. Don’t always bet on the most talented to win. Bet on the one with the most desire. It plays out every day in F&I offices around the country. I have seen it many times and it is fun to watch!

I look forward to seeing you on my next post! Visit www.go-reahard.com to learn more about how we can help you help more customers. Also feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas with agents and F&I professionals is my passion!

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Alan Scott Joins ADG/EasyCare


NORCROSS, Ga. — Alan Scott has joined ADG/EasyCare as an F&I specialist, the company announced. An eight-year industry veteran, Scott will serve as a trainer and producer at client dealerships to help ADG/EasyCare dealers succeed.

“I love the car business and I wanted to get a different take on it, and ADG/EasyCare really has a great grasp on the F&I side of the business,” Scott said. “They are able to train talented people and I’m excited to both learn from them and bring the expertise to dealers in my area.”

Scott began his automotive career in 2009 as a salesperson at Medlin Motors in Rocky Mount, N.C. He brings expertise in automotive retail and compliance to his new role, which he will share with the dealers he supports.

“Alan brings great energy to ADG/EasyCare and we are very happy to have him on board.  We expect great things from Alan!” said Greg English, President of ADG/EasyCare.

 

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New F&I Compliance Certification Offered by American Financial


THE WOODLANDS, Texas – A new F&I compliance certification has been introduced to the industry by Automotive Compliance Education, LLC (ACE). The ACE certification program was developed by industry-leading attorneys to help set and maintain professional standards at dealerships. This training program takes the rigorous and complicated federal regulations that touch different parts of the dealership, and digests it into logical doses. The online training modules also show how the regulations relate to everyday situations in the dealership. From Reg Z, to Red Flags, to ECOA, ACE certification ensures that all who complete the program can take that knowledge and confidence back to the business office and apply it immediately.

It is important for business managers to become ACE certified as the process of obtaining this certification helps to raise the industry standard of F&I professionalism and education. ACE understands that the automotive industry and regulations are always evolving. For that reason, annual re-certification is part of the program. ACE certified F&I professionals will be responsible for maintaining this new standard by taking an annual review module and exam. This process includes any significant regulatory changes that may have occurred in the previous year. Like other professional licenses, such as an insurance license, this certificate will recognize automotive professionals and their adherence to ethics, industry education, and professionalism on an ongoing basis.

American Financial & Automotive Services, Inc. has partnered with ACE to provide the ACE certification through its award-winning F&I University (FIU). As the Dealers’ Choice Diamond Level winner in Compliance Training and the Platinum Level winner in F&I Training, American Financial believed this unique opportunity with ACE was a natural partnership. Aligning compliance certification and F&I training creates an even stronger program for F&I professionals that will take their career to the next level. FIU already provides an industry-leading F&I curriculum and online continuing education to provide dealerships increased opportunities and revenue. By implementing ACE certification into the current curriculum, FIU has solidified their commitment to compliance and F&I training to the industry. Not only will business managers walk away from the intensive F&I school with innovative techniques to take back to the business office, they will also walk away with an ACE F&I compliance certificate that will set them apart as professional leaders in ethics and compliance.

FIU is the only F&I school to offer ACE certification in an instructor-led format. When business managers leave the five-day F&I school being ACE certified, they will bring back assurance to the dealership and its customers. Prove your dealership’s commitment to compliance and F&I by getting your team ACE certified today!

Please visit www.AFASinc.com for more information about FIU and to register for the F&I school.

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RoadVantage Continues Strong Momentum with Office Expansions, Hiring Surge


AUSTIN – RoadVantage, the fastest-growing provider of F&I programs for the automotive industry, today announced the third expansion of its Austin headquarters and the addition of a new west coast office, as well as new hires across all departments.

These latest expansions enable RoadVantage to further broaden its sales and customer service operations in order to accommodate the company’s record contract volume and accelerated revenue growth.

“The momentum behind RoadVantage is exciting, but we have an eye to the future and are ensuring that even with our rapid growth, we remain a step ahead,” said Garret Lacour, CEO of RoadVantage. “We’ve made these investments in our business and our people in order to ensure we continue to provide the best customer experience in the industry.”

In Q1 of 2017, the company hired new employees across all departments, including the addition of a new sales office on the west coast. RoadVantage will further expand its Austin office this summer when it absorbs an adjacent space in the same building. These expansions will double the footprint of its Austin headquarters.

“By putting these resources in place, we are ready to take our business to the next level,” said Reese Hillard, Senior Vice President at RoadVantage. “The expansions to our team and our offices support our growth strategy.”

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What the Grateful Dead Taught Me About Customer Service


In 2004, Rolling Stone ranked the Grateful Dead No. 57 on their list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time.” The Grateful Dead were considered the greatest touring band in history. They performed more than 2,300 concerts. In their early career, the band also dedicated their time and talents to their community, the Haight-Ashbury area of San Francisco, making available free food, lodging, music, and health care to all. It has been said the band performed “more free concerts than any band in the history of music.”

While the multitudes followed them mainly for their music, two other characteristics endeared their fans to them. Duplicating their principles will enable us to create relationships that will be just as enduring.

1. They Focused on Giving Their Customers What They Needed and Wanted.

All the technology being developed today to enhance the F&I process in dealerships will only be effective if it enables us to give customers more of what they want. Surveys galore tell us they want a process that respects their time and provides valuable information in an interactive format, uniquely tailored to their needs.

As general agents, we must provide great products as well as a great process to our dealer partners. Customers want an F&I manager who listens more than they have to, smiles more than they have to and cares more about their needs than they have to. They usually reward us by listening to us more than they planned to, buying more than they planned to and most importantly leaving the dealership happier and more “grateful” that they ever planned to. That will create some fans that will never buy anywhere else!

When an agent’s time spent working in a dealership or an F&I Managers time spent with a customer produces memorable moments, it is no coincidence that they usually turn into profitable efforts.

2. They Never Played the Same Concert Twice.

The Grateful Dead only knew the first song they were going to play before going onstage, and then let the energy of the audience and the flow of the show take it from there. Every dealer (the agent’s customer) and every car buyer (the F&I manager’s customer) has unique needs and situations. Our time spent with them allows us the opportunity to learn about them.

That requires the conversation be about them, not us. Discovering each person’s needs is a means to an end. The result is we must be able to recommend and customize a solution to the potential problems we discovered through our conversation.

Every time you offer a customized solution to a customer, it demonstrates you care about them. Fans of the Grateful Dead knew every time they were with the band it was going to be a great experience. What would make customers look forward to the interaction in a dealership instead of dreading parts of the negotiation? Simply, we must change the customer experience. Do our actions say we do the same thing with every one of our customers or do they communicate a desire to match what we do and offer based on what we have learned about them? Words such as “You told me earlier” or “Based on what we have learned together” make customers aware it is all about them. Almost makes you feel like you are at a Grateful Dead concert getting what you want — not what the band (F&I manager) wants!

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Stealing … From Yourself!


Emmanuel Ninger was arrested for counterfeiting in 1887 after he handed a clerk, whose hands were wet, a $20 bill and the ink started smearing. A search of his attic found that he was hand-painting each bill! They also found three paintings he had created which, after his arrest, were sold at auction for a total of $16,000.

Amazingly, it took Ninger almost the same amount of time to create a fake $20 bill as a $5,000 portrait. He was a thief, but the person he stole most from was himself. Let’s look at two thieves we need to uncover and banish from our selling efforts.

1. The Talent Thief

I believe the most prevalent thief today steals our perception of the level of abilities we are capable of developing and the natural gifts we were born with, enabling us to reach our full potential.

I rarely see a top performer who is operating solely on natural talent. Top performers regularly practice their skills with coworkers; embrace any learning opportunity and research what has made others successful. Their mantra is every time I learn something new it reminds me I still have more to learn.

I have discovered many professionals who have let a thief into their “professional house.” They play small, hide behind excuses and act like a victim of their circumstances. This leads to judgments that only make things worse. Thoughts like, “Why should I spend time working on my skills? In this economy and with the way deals are worked here, it’s not going to make any difference.”

The end result is a professional that has stopped working on their skills and no longer are growing but stagnant. There’s a thief in the house!

2. The Impostor

Selling a product by building value and showing how it will solve a problem or prevent a future one is the real thing. Using pressure, incorrect or exaggerated information or anything close to a noncompliant process is counterfeit.

Counterfeit selling is evidence of a much deeper problem. That individual believes taking shortcuts to get the sale is the best place to invest their focus and energy. This person will exert more energy to reach a desired result in a less acceptable way than it would take to develop a more acceptable manner that would get even better results. We have ample examples in the automotive world. Volkswagen’s diesel emissions issue led to dealerships on either coast cited for unacceptable selling practices. They not only stole from customers, they stole from themselves.

Wherever you place your focus is where all of your energy and creativity goes. Individuals that succumb to the idea of selling in any other way than a customer-focused value building process have let another thief in. It takes determination and commitment to consistently develop a process that builds value and creates a win-win for everyone involved.

The rewards are customers more satisfied with the process and more likely to return to buy again in the future. Selling any other way will lead to customers that feel they were mistreated or, even worse, a personal exposure of counterfeit efforts. Do the right thing, the right way and the results and rewards will come.

General agents are on the front lines of selling. Providing training opportunities to create value building sales efforts in the dealerships we work in is a critical part of our offering. Challenging individuals to consistently grow their skills using a customer focused process will help eliminate counterfeit selling. Your efforts on the front line are helping us shape our industry to be more compliant and more appreciated by our customers. Thank you and sell on!

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