Tag Archive | "Ron Reahard"

The Road to Mediocrity

F&I professionals are not born that way. F&I superstars are not “discovered” on F&I Idol, and they do not achieve exceptional performance, profits and CSI by accident. Every F&I professional I’ve ever encountered has been well trained. And every top producer also continues to improve his or her skills. And finally, they’re always highly motivated – either by themselves, a great dealer or a great coach – like an agent entrepreneur.

Becoming an F&I professional is not easy. Neither is becoming a successful agent. It’s hard work. Doors get slammed in your face. You confirm an appointment for the next day, drive four hours, only to get stood up. Dealers negotiate your commission down to nothing, then expect you to train their F&I managers – who don’t want training – for free. I mean, let’s be realistic, if the dealer and F&I managers are not committed to ongoing training, there is no way you’re going to make it happen, right?

“Let’s be realistic,” is the first step on the road to mediocrity. And it’s a nice, smooth, straight, wide road with several lanes. Unfortunately, the road to success is a winding mountain road with lots of steep inclines, sharp turns and potholes. It’s narrow, it’s rough, it’s not well marked and if you don’t maintain your focus, it’s easy to go over the edge.

Every F&I development company tracks results. In my experience, the key to improving F&I performance at any dealership is also to track effort. For a training program to be truly effective, training has to be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. That means creating, implementing, maintaining and monitoring an ongoing F&I training program is absolutely essential to improving your dealers’ F&I performance and profits.

As a training company, we constantly evaluate dealers’ F&I people, their knowledge, their skills and their processes to identify opportunities to improve performance and provide the resources and training they need to improve. Unfortunately, in far too many dealerships, once that F&I person returns from their initial training class, there are no organized ongoing training activities. The F&I manager is left to twist in the wind, with the dealer and the agent both hoping they will get better on their own.

A major reason many F&I people fail to achieve their full potential is because inaction and re-action is almost always easier than action and being pro-active. What keeps most people from becoming truly successful is that inner voice that is constantly asking, “Why should I bother?” That inner voice has a thousand reasons why something won’t work, they can’t do it and they don’t have the time to do it.

Unfortunately, whenever someone stops learning, exercising or practicing, over time their skills and performance begin to regress. For the long-term, it is simply not possible for an F&I manager to maintain their current level of performance. Unless they are continuously improving their skills, their performance will begin to go downhill. A professional strives to continually find ways to grow in their work, otherwise any job eventually becomes boring, routine and a waste of time.

I don’t know any dealer, agent or F&I manager who doesn’t want to make more money. Most are very receptive to any “tips” you can give them that will help them to sell more products, because every F&I manager wants that magic bullet to overcome any objection and close every sale. The problem with an ongoing training program is it actually requires work on their part. Unfortunately, success is never easy.

Many people spend their whole life on the road to mediocrity because they prefer to be comfortable. It’s up to you to make your F&I managers uncomfortable. How? First, you have to instill the expectation of continuous improvement. You can’t expect F&I performance to improve without implementing a process to make it happen! You must establish performance goals and expectations, with specific training assignments, role-play exercises, evaluation criteria and mile-markers indicating their progress.

Ongoing training has to be like brushing your teeth; something F&I managers are expected to do every day. What are your F&I managers doing today to improve their skills for tomorrow? Whenever an F&I manager reaches a new level of performance, that should automatically become the new norm. It doesn’t matter what they did last month, that isn’t good enough this month.

Second, ongoing training must be part of every F&I manager’s job description and compensation plan. We all know your pay plan is your job description. If you want an F&I manager to be concerned about Income Per Retail Unit, you base part of their compensation on $PRU. If you want them to focus on Products Per Retail Unit or customer satisfaction, you base part of their compensation on PPRU and CSI. And if you want them to do their training assignments, you must make training part of their compensation plan. There have to be consequences, either positive or negative, of doing or not doing training.

Third, to ensure your manager’s skills continue to improve, creating a monthly training calendar with a weekly training assignment is a great way to ensure they continue to improve their skills. If you want someone to practice, you have to give them something to practice. It’s important, however, that you don’t start something you can’t or won’t continue.

So start small, with one training assignment a week, which should require no more than fifteen to twenty minutes for them to complete. Some typical training assignments might be:

  • List two parts covered by your service agreement, what the part is, what it does, what happens when it fails, where it is on the vehicle, and how much it costs to fix;
  • List five open-ended needs discovery questions for GAP; and
  • List three common objections for tire & wheel road hazard protection and write out a customer-focused response.

It’s critical you actually review their training assignments and provide them with feedback, as well as track whether or not they have been completed. If you want performance to improve, you have to track effort, not just results.

Finally, video recording and reviewing actual F&I presentations is a great training tool, because it allows you to see what’s really happening behind closed doors. We find this is one of the greatest training aides we have. As an agent, it’s also a great way to bring additional value to your dealers, because they know someone is actually monitoring what’s happening in the F&I office.

Videos of every F&I manager’s presentation can easily be accessed and viewed by authorized users via the Internet for training, customer satisfaction and compliance purposes. You also need to conduct regular testing of every manager’s consultative selling skills.

Avoiding the road to mediocrity requires implementing an ongoing F&I training program in every dealership. Ongoing training will prevent your F&I managers from becoming complacent, and ensures they continue to improve their consultative skills. Continuous improvement should be expected; complacency is unacceptable. Here’s where you are, here’s where we need to be and here’s how we’re going to get there! While the road to mediocrity may be easier, the road to success is a lot more profitable.

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Reahard to Return to 2013 F&I Conference

Las Vegas — Voted a “Best in Class” speaker by attendees of last year’s F&I Conference, F&I trainer Ron Reahard will return as a featured speaker at the 2013 F&I Conference. He will deliver “Crank Up the Value of F&I,” a workshop that will center on how F&I offices can update their processes.

Reahard, president of Ron Reahard & Associates and longtime contributor to F&I and Showroom, has focused heavily in recent years on how the F&I office can better connect with today’s consumer. At last year’s F&I conference, he delivered “Make the Internet Your Ally,” a session that focused on how F&I managers can prepare for today’s Internet shopper. This year, he’s continuing that messaging by focusing on the F&I process.

“If you’re still using product brochures and evidence manuals with three-year-old repair orders enshrined in plastic sheets to pitch product, you need to be at this session,” said Gregory Arroyo, editorial director, F&I and Showroom and Auto Dealer Monthly magazines. “If you’ve heard Ron speak before, you know he’s not a fan of pressure sales techniques and forcing customers to listen to sales pitches for products they have no interest in buying. Well, he’s going to show you how a well-designed process can drive that interest so customers can make more informed decisions.”

Last year, attendees of the magazine’s annual conference voted Reahard a “Best in Class” speaker, an honor he shared with F&I trainers Tony Dupaquier, Luis Garcia and Gerry Gould. Reahard has conducted numerous seminars and management workshops for the National Automotive Dealers Association’s annual conference, as well as a host of other industry events. He’s also a member of the Association of Finance and Insurance professionals.

The F&I Conference is one of three shows being hosted at Industry Summit 2013, which is being held at the Paris Las Vegas hotel Sept. 16-18. For more information, visit www.industrysummit.com.

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Lojack Launches New Dealer Training Web site

Canton, Mass. — Lojack Corp. launched its new digital dealer training Web site, the Lojack Learning Management System. It features best practices for selling the LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System as well as tactics to increase customer satisfaction.

LoJack consulted with F&I trainer Ron Reahard of Reahard & Associates to create a customizable platform for auto dealers and their sales associates. The LoJack Learning Management System provides several modules that can be completed at a participant’s convenience in a comprehensive, interactive learning environment.

The system also provides the flexibility for dealerships to use the materials as part of a tailored training event, as well as the ability for users to reference the material any time via a downloadable PDF guide.

“Dealers need to stay on the cutting edge of technology and part of that includes equipping their sales teams with the resources and programs that help close car sales,” said Randy L. Ortiz, CEO and president, LoJack. “At LoJack, we have spent a significant amount of time working with hundreds of auto dealer executives, managers, sales teams and vendors to determine exactly what their needs are. As such, our new Learning Management System provides powerful tactics to help increase sales and ROI on LoJack products.”

In addition to the new training Web site, LoJack offers other dealer support tools, such as a mobile application designed specifically to help sales teams illustrate the value of the LoJack Stolen Vehicle Recovery System. A consumer tab includes popular selling tools such as localized theft risk assessment modules, a product comparison grid and a theft cost calculator.

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Tips For 2013 From Top Industry Trainers

When it comes to ways agents can find more success, there are a lot of tips and tools out there to choose from. We asked a few of the top industry trainers to give us their take on what they see as the most important things agents should focus on going into this new year.

It may come as no surprise, but most of them listed training — the training agents offer to their F&I dealer clients — as one of their top pieces of advice. They noted that when it comes to being successful, the agents who create and maintain strong training programs are the ones who rise to the top. But it’s not just chatting about a new product and calling that “training.” There needs to be, the experts noted, a solid program that uses a wide range of techniques.

Luis Garcia, vice president of sales & business development, Safe-Guard Products International LLC, noted that one thing he finds a lot of value in is walkaround training. “The art of the ‘walkaround’ has been lost,” he said. “The walkaround is a perfect place to start planting the seeds for F&I products. For example, salespeople can point out features such as the tires, noting that those can be covered with tire and wheel protection. It creates an environment where customers are already starting to think about F&I, whether they know it or not, before they even sit down with the finance manager.”

Steve Veldkamp, district sales manager, Great Lakes Companies, believes agents need to have a structured system in place. “Today’s agent needs to have a monthly schedule of classroom training workshops. I have found classroom training is more effective than in-store training, mainly because there are no interruptions. The workshops can be product-specific, such as vehicle service contracts or credit insurance; topic-specific such as objection handling or presentations; or general knowledge such as a three-day F&I school.”

For Gerry Gould, director of training, United Development Systems Inc. (UDS), one of the real problems is F&I business managers who never practice their skills, outside of being in front of a customer. And then they wonder why they aren’t closing the sale. He advocates that agents train these managers using role-play techniques.

“Without role play and the critique that accompanies it, the only time the business manager gets to develop his talent and improve his skill is in front of a customer, and when they miss a shot, screw up a throw or strike out, the customer is not going to tell them what they did wrong, or right for that matter,” Gould said.

Beyond offering training directly, Tony Dupaquier, director of F&I, American Financial & Automotive Services Inc., suggests that agents encourage all their business managers to attend an F&I school at least every two years. Some things he notes an agent needs to be aware of before suggesting a specific school? “Ensure the legal compliance of the F&I school,” he advised, “and ask for documentation of legal compliance, not just a ‘yea, its legal.’”

Dupaquier also advises agents to make sure the school will focus on what they, and the dealer, want to accomplish. “Most F&I school focus on pure gross profit and not product penetration,” Dupaquier noted. “But product penetration spreads the profit around and assures keeping the profit. Focusing only on gross and making the money in rate is very dangerous in today’s market.”

Garcia cautioned though, that agents can’t just do a few training courses and call it a day. “Persistence wears down resistance. Training isn’t a one-time thing. It has to be a regular occurrence, and by being persistent, you will start to see a rise in your profits and realize the value training brings to the table. You just have to stick with it.”

Beyond Training
But training programs are the only things agents can be doing to help their dealers — and themselves — be more successful this year. One tip Ron Reahard, president, Reahard & Associates Inc., offered, was to be aware of pricing.

“Studies have shown most people tend to start rounding up at 45, so keep your prices under that number. If you charge $995 for a product, the customer mentally rounds that off to $1,000, so in the customer’s mind it’s a $1,000 anyway. They round up. If you charge the customer $1,041, they mentally round the price down to $1,000. They round in your favor, and you make more money,” he noted.

All in all, the key for agents is to not be complacent. Continuing to learn and grow, and then taking that knowledge to ensure your dealers stay ahead of the competition, is a key trait to cultivate. It will help you go from being a good agent, to a great, successful one.

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