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The Anatomy of the Deal


“All the functions of the General Agent are interdependent of each other just as the parts of our body.”

One of the privileges I have enjoyed has been the opportunity to work with some of the finest dealers and general agents across the country. Every where these two entities cooperate effectively it creates success. Simply put, they need each other. Just as the human body cannot function at optimum levels unless the different parts are working in sync with each other, neither can the dealer without being in sync with an effective general agent. The day of looking to a general agent as just a product provider is past. Dealers need a true partner that has a forward-looking plan for growing their business.

There are several major functions of the human body that if they fail the body cannot survive. The anatomy of the relationship between the dealer and the general agent will only produce success if several functions are working properly. Let’s take a look at the major functions of the agent that will create healthy success.

Breathing

Just as the body must take breath in and out consistently or it will die, there must be a consistent intake of information gathered by the agent, which is then exhaled by the implementation of an effective plan to create success in the dealership. The agent has to effectively analyze where the true strengths and weaknesses are in the dealership and must drill down and take in not only the numbers that need addressing but also the attitudes and concepts that may be blocking success.

Once you have inhaled the information to identify the dealers’ needs you can produce an effective strategy that is uniquely suited to them. A general template approach of how to drive production in a dealership will not work. Each market is unique as is each dealership within that market. When a unique profit plan is created the dealer knows they have a true partner on their team and the opportunity to maximize success is created.

Growth

The human body has approximately 100,000,000,000 cells. Each cell can independently take in nutrients, convert them into energy, carry out specialized functions, and reproduce as necessary. If cells stop dividing and growing then disease sets in and cancerous cells may form. The agents that are distinguishing themselves in the marketplace are those that provide ongoing growth opportunities. As customers become more resistant to F&I products, dealers must have F&I managers that are growing in their skills and abilities.

Providing cutting edge training that goes beyond the one time class model and provides an ongoing growth track will produce amazing results. The challenge of how to provide effective training and how to justify the cost has puzzled agents for years. However in today’s economy it simply is not possible to enable dealers to reach their maximum potential in profitability without it. Dealers consistently rank training as a top priority to grow their business and the agent that provides it will be top on their list. When F&I managers are not growing they will see the overall health of the department and profits decline. The profits on the outside will never be stronger than the growth that is going on inside the members of the dealership team.

Appetite

One of the challenges with an illness is the person’s appetite may diminish and make it even more severe. One of the most important functions of the agent is to make the F&I mangers hungry for success. We know F&I managers are driven by the rewards of reaching top levels of performance. I have found they are driven by both an effective pay plan and also by being the best and excelling in light of their peers. Clearly communicating to an F&I manager their potential so that they can see themselves performing more effectively is a key to creating the hunger needed to drive performance.

The effectiveness of an F&I manager is multiplied when growth opportunities and motivation are both present. Giving people the means to grow without the motivation needed is unhealthy and tragic. Everyone at some point will have the inner fire go out. The day-to-day struggle to consistently produce results can cause the energy that produced last month’s results to wane. The only way to motivate a team consistently is to be in regular face to face contact with them. These motivating encounters can challenge and produce the hunger needed to turn performance around and be a game changer. All dealers are looking for results and the key to making that happen month after month is to assure that the structure from pay plan to work schedules is accompanied by the motivation that creates the hunger that produces results.

Reproduction

In the words of the famous film the Lion King “It’s the Circle of Life, and it moves us all.” Our bodies are made to provide for the perpetuation of our families. An agent’s offering is not complete without creating a perpetuation plan within the dealership that will properly identify potential in current team members and where they might function more effectively in the days ahead. A dealership that provides consistent success will need to replace, promote or add members to their team. The first place they look for help is the agent. Many times moving the best F&I manager to a sales manager’s position can only assure that you just lost your best F&I manager! The perspective that the agent has is invaluable in this process and can avoid personnel moves that are counter productive and create positive ones that will fuel more growth.

A consistent analysis of the dealership to develop a strategic plan to maximize profits coupled with consistent growth opportunities and the motivation to produce at optimum levels is what dealers need and expect. Agents that provide a well-balanced effort with all the parts functioning effectively will create a healthy dealership team and long-term partners and success.

One of the main reasons for the great success of Apple Computers has been their ability to stay one step ahead of the customer and identify what they will need and want before they even know they need it. Knowing what product, change in process or personnel move is needed even before the dealer knows they need it will enable an agent to assure the dealer that they will always be on the cutting edge of sales and profitability and that they have a partner that is not only getting their business, but growing their business.

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