Tag Archive | "F&I"

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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TDC Launches Virtual Compliance Training For A Fraction Of The Cost


NEW YORK — Total Dealer Compliance (TDC), a car dealership compliance-auditing firm, today announced the launch of its Virtual Compliance Training platform. This online training solution will help car dealers mitigate risk faced by proactive regulators, creating a culture of compliance at a fraction of the cost. With TDC charging roughly 80% less than their competitors, these Virtual Compliance Training modules will provide affordable access to training, enabling car dealers to be fully compliant with Federal regulations across Sales, BDC, F&I, Fixed Ops, HR, and IT departments.

There are approximately 17,540 franchised automotive dealerships in the United States, while used car dealerships almost triple that number, increasing the need for compliance. TDC’s virtual compliance program comes at an impactful time for dealerships looking to strengthen their reputation and incorporate a culture of compliance without breaking the bank. Compliance is essential in today’s car dealership environment. TDC offers a unique, simple and comprehensive approach that generates fast results and stands above competitive offerings.

“With both the FTC and OSHA increasing fines for compliance violations, the cost for non-compliant car dealers average $792,000 loss per year in profit”, said Max Zanan, President of Total Dealer Compliance. “Car dealers should proactively seek a solution that provides peace of mind and promises defensible proof of compliance to both auditors and executives.”

TDC’s Virtual Compliance Training is readily available to all dealerships and includes the following:

  • Comprehensive Online Training modules for each department and employee of the dealership
  • Cloud-based e-learning platform with analytic reporting
  • End of Course Assessment and certification

TDC’s Virtual Compliance Training costs are based on user/employee headcount:

  • Up to 25 employees – $699 annually
  • Up to 50 employees – $1,299 annually
  • Up to 100 employees – $2,499 annually

“As the nation’s leader in auto dealer compliance solutions and services, we are so proud to finally be able to provide this robust compliance training online and at a much lower price point then our competitors,” said Zanan. “Compliance is essential to today’s dealership environment – with our courses updated throughout the year and both affordable and easily accessible, we are excited to help car dealers safeguard their business, mitigate risks, and increase their profits.”

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AUL Corp. Launches 2017 F&I Training Schedule


NAPA, Cali. – AUL Corp., the award-winning and leading warranty and vehicle service contract administrator in America, just released their 2017 F&I Training Schedule. This will be AUL’s second year of offering F&I Training. This training provides a tailored education that includes a 3-day live course, virtual training sessions and an online platform that includes a variety of videos and quizzes available for 12 months following the in-person course. The curriculum is designed for F&I professionals selling finance and insurance products in automobile dealerships.

Each course will be conducted by Kirk Manzo, CSP and Director of Global Training for Assurant’s Vehicle Protection Services group. Since 1999, Kirk has consulted and trained retail dealerships to help them maximize profits in their sales and F&I departments. Mr. Manzo is a Certified Member of the John Maxwell Team.  The live workshops will be held in DallasNapaAtlanta and Chicago.  The 3-day workshop will include training on compliance, objection handling, TOs from Sales to F&I, and menu-selling. These highly interactive workshops will teach real-world strategies and tactics necessary to improve performance and increase satisfaction.  Also, included in the in-person training will be role-playing scenarios and valuable feedback following a video session.

When asked about the courses, Kirk Manzo stated, “AUL’s training program integrates the use of Virtual Round Tables to provide a unique ‘peer to peer’ learning and accountability component unlike anything in the industry. It’s like having your own private F&I 20 group to support and encourage your performance improvement.”

AUL General Sales Manager, Jason Garner agrees and also states, “Training must be a proactive and continuous process that becomes an essential element in a dealership’s culture.  In addition to three days of classwork, AUL’s 12-month follow-up delivers the necessary components to ensure a successful continuous learning environment at the dealership.”

To learn more about AUL Corp’s. 2017 F&I Training, contact email hidden; JavaScript is required or call 800.826.3207.

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Wise F&I has Partnered with Darwin Automotive


ST. LOUIS – Wise F&I provides a full suite of voluntary protection products to the automotive finance and insurance market. Wise F&I products are now available through Darwin Automotive’s Prescriptive F&I Selling Software. This partnership provides automotive retailers utilizing Darwin access to all of Wise F&I products, including: GAPWise, WiseCARE, TIREWise, WiseTVP, THEFTWise and KEYWise. Darwin provides eRating and eContracting for Wise F&I products, they also further support online product integration through innovative F&I technology. Matt Croak, president Wise F&I, commented, “Partnering with Darwin allows us to benefit from Darwin’s predictive analytics and patented technology to increase sales.”

The partnership also helps facilitate customer transactions in the dealership. Mutual dealerships of Wise F&I and Darwin Automotive will be able to provide a streamlined transaction with increased efficiencies and accuracies of Wise F&I branded products to their customers. “Offering customers a more complete online experience through Darwin will help to increase customer satisfaction,” said Matt Croak.

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Duck Dynasty Determination!


Phil Robertson of “Duck Dynasty” fame was raised in abject poverty. His boyhood home had no electricity, toilet or bathtub. Food was anything they grew in their garden and whatever meat they could hunt. Nevertheless, he said they were always “happy, happy, happy.”

Despite his limited beginnings, Phil went on to acquire a master’s degree in education owing to his football playing skills. At Louisiana Tech, he played first-string quarterback for the Bulldogs, ahead of Pro Football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw. Most thought Robertson was a natural for the NFL. However, his love of hunting overshadowed his love of football, and he went on to get a patent on his design of a better duck caller. The rest, as they say, is history.

Terry Bradshaw and Phil Robertson are very different personalities with two principles in common:

  1. The Secret of Success Is Doing What You Love!

As an independent agent, you spend many hours driving from one dealership to the next. On any given day, you may be called on to craft reinsurance strategies, develop training plans for F&I, vet products, and provide the motivation to make everyone successful. Not all of these tasks are always our favorites, but they allow us to do the thing we love the most.

Help dealers and their people reach new levels of success and profits. It’s like the duck call to Phil or the call of the crowd to Terry. They have spent their careers doing the thing they love the most, and that’s why they are both champions in their field.

Phil once cleverly said “Terry went for the bucks, and I chased after the ducks.” They both pursued what they loved. Just remember that, even during those long days, the reward of having made a tangible difference with your dealer is worth the effort. And that’s what you love to do!

  1. Developing the Team Around You Is as Important as Developing Your Own Abilities.

At last count, there were 23 Robertson family members working to manufacture, sell and deliver their products. The one foundational principal Phil Robertson developed in his family was the work ethic he learned as a child. “Duck Dynasty” episodes are filled with family members bucking the system while Phil reinforces the demand for a strong work ethic, often times in hilarious ways. The success in his company can be traced to his consistent effort to develop his family’s abilities to shadow his vision on how to provide the best duck call ever invented.

And what would Terry Bradshaw be without world-class players around him like Lynn Swann, Franco Harris and “Mean” Joe Greene. Bradshaw was not responsible for their world-class talent. However, he was responsible for molding them together as a team, and he did. The result? Four Super Bowl wins.

Duck Dynasty determination is doing what you love and developing those around you. It creates great duck calls, quarterbacks and independent agency teams! I love this business and I know you do as well. That’s why we do what we do. So keep up the great work and we all will be happy, happy, happy!

I look forward to seeing you on my next post! Please feel free to contact me. Exchanging ideas with F&I professionals is what I love!

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