Tag Archive | "time management"

7 Ways to Be Popular at Work Without Sucking Up to Anybody

We spend most of our daily waking hours working, whether we’re meeting with colleagues or sitting in our offices. Over the course of all those hours, we’ll inevitably encounter the occasional difficult co-worker or overbearing boss. But if we allow friction to develop, we could permanently damage the very relationships we need to do our jobs, reports Entrepreneur.

By learning to cultivate productive work relationships, you can accomplish more while also enjoying a more professional office environment. Here are seven tips to help your form better relationships with superiors, colleagues, subordinates, and clients.

1. Respect Others’ Time. 

One way to become extremely unpopular is to be “that” person who insists on popping into offices unannounced. Your appearance is met with dread because people know you have yet another useless question or comment. If you constantly interrupt people’s work or stretch a 30-second question into a 10-minute tirade, you may be at the top of the list of your office’s most annoying co-workers.

This respect also extends to your office. If you’re in an environment where others can hear what you say, respect your neighbors by keeping conversations at a low volume and refraining from speaking to them if you see they’re working on something.

2. Play Nice in Email.

Email leaves a lasting impression. An inflammatory email you send one employee about another can make its way around the office before you know it, eventually ending up in the hands of the person being written about. One bad email can permanently damage your relationship with a co-worker, in addition to threatening your own professional reputation in the workplace.

If you feel the need to vent about a co-worker, do so away from the office, preferably with a spouse or trusted friend. Even if you must let off steam to someone who works with you, make sure you never put it in writing.

3. Don’t Be a Snitch.

One way to make an enemy quickly is to go to his or her supervisor and complain. This includes copying that supervisor on an email complaining about that employee, whether directly to that worker or to someone else. Even if the employee isn’t included in the complaint, it will likely make its way back around and you’ll have alienated a colleague.

If you have an issue with a fellow employee, have a conversation directly with that person. If you’ve found that repeated attempts fall flat, you may have to find another way to get the work done. If you feel the employee’s behavior is somehow putting the company at risk, turn it over to your own supervisor to handle.

4. Have a Positive Attitude. 

My friend John Rampton always says “People are drawn to positive people, seeking to feel motivated and inspired by their great attitudes. Supervisors also tend to trust positive people with projects more, since they show a support for the organization and its work.”

Be careful not to go too far with your positivity, though. An overly sunny attitude can become annoying, especially when those around you are pressured by deadlines or dealing with issues. If you can maintain your positive attitude no matter what happens, you’ll be much more likely to be able to handle the many stresses you’ll face each day.

5. Find a Common Interest. 

Whether you’re meeting a client for the first time or killing time between meetings with a stranger from accounting, you’ll stand a better chance of making a connection if you can find a common interest. Start by asking if they had a great weekend or mentioning a big televised event like a football game.

Once you’ve established this common bond, you’ll have something to talk about the next time you see the person. If it’s a client, you’ll not only be memorable, your meetings are more likely to have positive outcomes if you share a personal bond.

6. Listen.

As corporate training expert Dale Carnegie pointed out, the most important communication skill is also the easiest: listen. People are actually drawn to those who take an interest in what they have to say without interrupting or drifting away. Instead of thinking about the next thing you’ll say, actually listen to what the other person is telling you and, if relevant, show that you remember it in a later conversation.

Listening skills are especially important in supervisory relationships. Employees want to know that their complaints and concerns are being heard. Leaders can significantly increase employee satisfaction by simply listening and taking interest in what employees have to say.

7. Be Supportive.

Whether professionals are asking for a re-tweet or seeking investment dollars, favors are an important part of doing business. Speaker Neil Fogarty recommends offering something yourself before asking for a favor from someone. Support others on social media before asking for that guest blog post or capital investment.

When others see you as a supportive, giving entrepreneur, they’ll naturally be drawn to you. This extends to the office environment, as well, where co-workers must frequently pitch in on projects. Instead of always asking for favors, be the person to offer to help when you see a co-worker is overwhelmed.

Strong, positive work connections can make each project more productive and enjoyable. By working each day to interact with your fellow employees, you’ll find people are more willing to help you when you need it. Many of these same principles can be applied to your dealings with family members, friends, and strangers you encounter throughout the course of your day.

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5 Minutes Early Is On Time; On Time Is Late; Late Is Unacceptable

I have a magic pill to sell you. It will help you make more money, be happier, look thinner, and have better relationships. It’s a revolutionary new pharmaceutical product called Late-No-More. Just one dose every day will allow you to show up on time, greatly enhancing your life and the lives of those around you.

All joking aside, being late is unacceptable, reports Forbes. While that sounds harsh, it’s the truth and something that should be said more often. I don’t care if you’re attending a dinner party, a conference call, or a coffee meeting – your punctuality says a lot about you.

Being late bothers me so much that just thinking about it makes me queasy. My being late, which does occasionally happen, usually causes me to break out into a nervous sweat. The later I am, the more it looks like I’ve sprung a leak. Catch me more than 15 minutes late and it looks like I went swimming.

On this issue, I find myself a member of a tiny minority. It seems like most people consider a meeting time or deadline to be merely a mild advisory of something that might happen. I’ve been called uptight and unreasonable, or variations prefaced with expletives. In a world that feels perpetually late, raising the issue of punctuality isn’t a way to win popularity contests and I’m ok with that.

There’s a reason we set meeting times and deadlines. It allows for a coordination of efforts, minimizes time/effort waste, and helps set expectations. Think of how much would get done if everyone just “chilled out” and “went with the flow?” It would be the definition of inefficiency. It’s probably not that hard to imagine, considering just last week I had 13 (yes, I counted) different people blow meeting times, or miss deadlines. It feels like a raging epidemic, seemingly smoothed over by a barrage of “my bads,” “sorry, mans,” and “you know how it goes.” The desired response is “it’s all good,” but the reality is that it’s not okay. Here’s what it is.

  • Disrespectful: Being on time is about respect. It signals that you value and appreciate the other person. If you don’t respect the meeting’s participants, why are you meeting with them in the first place?
  • Inconsiderate: Unintentionally being late demonstrates an overall lack of consideration for the lives of others. You just don’t care.
  • Big-Timing: Intentionally being late is about power. It’s showing the other person, or people that you’re a “big deal” and have the upper-hand in the relationship. It’s also called being a dick.
  • Incredible: No, not in the good way. When you miss meeting times or deadlines, your credibility takes the trajectory of a lead balloon. If you can’t be counted on to be on time, how could you possibly have credibility around far tougher tasks?
  • Unprofitable: Let’s consider a scenario where five people are holding a meeting at 2 p.m. Your sauntering in ten minutes late just wasted 40 minutes of other peoples’ time. Let’s say the organization bills $200/hour. Are you paying the $133 bill? Someone certainly is.
  • Disorganized: If you can’t keep your calendar, what other parts of your life are teetering on the edge of complete disaster? Being late signals at best that you’re barely hanging on and probably not someone I want to associate with.
  • Overly-Busy: Everyone likes to equate busyness with importance, but the truly successful know that’s BS. Having a perpetually hectic schedule just signals that you can’t prioritize, or say “no,” neither of which is an endearing trait.
  • Flaky: Apparently some people just “flake out,” which seems to mean that they arbitrarily decided not to do the thing they committed to at the very last minute. Seriously? That’s ridiculous.
  • Megalomaniacal: While most grow out of this by the age of eight, some genuinely believe they are the center of the universe. It’s not attractive. Note, this is also called Donald Trump Syndrome. Do you want to be compared to Donald Trump?

As I said earlier, I’m occasionally late. Sometimes a true emergency happens, or an outlier event transpires. When it happens, I try to give a very detailed account of why I was late, apologize profusely, make sure the other person knows that I take it very seriously, and assure them it won’t happen again.

Paying attention to punctuality is not about being “judgy,” or stressed. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. It makes room for the caring, considerate, thoughtful people I want in my life, whether that’s friends or colleagues. Think of how relaxing your life would be if everyone just did what they said they’d do, when they said they’d do it? A good place to start is with yourself and a great motto is something I was taught as a child:

“5 minutes early is on time. On time is late. Late is unacceptable.” 

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What’s the Secret to Balancing Parenthood and Entrepreneurship?

People constantly ask me: “How do you do it? You run an agency, you have two children, you constantly write blog posts and you’ve just published your fourth book. How do you do it? How do you find the time?”

It’s not about time, I can tell you that, reports Entrepreneur.

There’s plenty of time. I’ve been in marketing for more than 25 years and I’ve been raising my children for close to 22 of those years. There’s been plenty of time. It’s about energy and priorities. You make time for what’s important. It’s finding the energy to keep going that proves to be the hardest part.

I begin every day at 5 a.m. I immediately open my laptop to write a blog post. Then I pay the bills, check four email accounts and then run (sometimes literally run) to the gym. Fitness has to be a priority too if I’m going to have the energy to get everything done.

By 9 a.m., I’m ready for what will be the first of probably a dozen meetings for the day. Up until now, there’s been a complete blurring of the personal and the professional. Now the professional kicks in, with tweets and texts all throughout the day to keep the other side of my life moving.

It’s who I am. It’s my brand.

I am a tried and true marketing person, so I believe that everything can and should be a brand, including each of us as personal brands.

I’ve built my brand as a self-proclaimed (read “self-branded”) marketing master, with a classic start at Johnson & Johnson gathering traditional brand management skills. Those skills have served me well. It was at J&J that I found my love for brands. I launched seven new products in five years during my stint. It was a lesson in setting priorities.

When my first child came along, I got my first lesson in “energy.” With my daughter came a whirlwind of demands on what was already a busy schedule, and then when my son came 18 months later I got another blast of reality — a parent’s reality.

That’s when I became an entrepreneur. It’s been in my blood ever since.

I got off the corporate ladder and opened up a regional office for a privately held marketing agency. I later left that gig and started my own firm a few years later.

Why not? I’m an entrepreneur!

The truth is, I had no choice.

Despite working what felt like a 24/7 schedule, I was also a primary caregiver for my two babies. Talk about needing energy and constantly resetting priorities. I was working at night, taking care of the kids during the day, and vice versa.

That’s when the entrepreneur in me collided with the parent in me. That’s when I had to set priorities because there just wasn’t enough energy to go around.

I was fine with it though, because I’d always imagined that “dad” would the other side to my brand. I embraced fatherhood and entrepreneurship and just made longer “to-do” lists to cope with the demands.

When my marriage came crashing down, I discovered who I really am and came out. I suddenly found myself as a single gay dad — so I had to re-evaluate my brand once again. No #SGD hashtags back then.

But parenting and work never stopped regardless.

While your situation may be quite different, I imagine you are also balancing the acts of entrepreneurship and parenthood — two roles that on the surface seem quite incompatible. While the specifics are different, I’ve been there and done that. I’m still doing it.

Now years later and three marketing books published, I can squarely say that being in marketing is my calling. It’s my brand. But with two grown children, one in graduate school and the other in college, being a dad is my calling too. It’s my brand.

I have experienced the highs and lows of both.

The challenge, of course, comes with juggling it all. You really can make it all work, if you work it.

I’ve had to learn how to balance being a father with being an entrepreneur. I’ve had to come up with ways to meet the demands of clients while making the parent/teacher conference at 3 in the afternoon. Back then, deadlines didn’t cut you much slack, there was no technology to back you up, and oh, by the way, fathers just didn’t really do much of the school thing. That was for the moms.

Today it’s very different, thankfully. Well, deadlines still don’t cut you much slack.

I’ve chronicled all of this in a new book called Out and About Dad: My journey as a father with all its twists, turns, and a few twirls. It explores my struggle to do it all. It’s a story that I hope people can relate to and feel motivated by.

I’ve learned a few things along my journey, and just like with my new book, I hope to pass them along to you here. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be doing just that. I hope to help entrepreneurs and parents juggle the many demands of work and raising kids.

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7 Tedious Office Tasks You Can and Should Automate

Why work harder when you can work smarter instead?

Several office tasks are perfect candidates to automate — without sacrificing the well being of your business, reports the Small Business Administration.

In fact, some of these tasks not only save time, but also can actually be done better through automation. Automation makes it less likely that (a) you’ll forget; (b) tasks will fall through the cracks if an employee leaves; (c) mistakes will occur through repetitive entry of information.

Here are seven tasks that you can and probably should consider automating to get things done faster and more reliably:

1. Paying Bills

Instead of spending your limited time paying bills each month, use a service like Bill.com to manage all of your payments.

The service works with any bank and even integrates with Xero and Quickbooks. You won’t have to go cut checks or manually enter them into your accounting system.  You can manage all of those payments online in one place. Bill.com claims that it can cut users’ bill-paying time in half.

Or, just check directly with your bank.  Many now offer bill payment services, sometimes at no extra charge.

2. Delegating Customer Support Issues

Handling customer communications via email can become a nightmare as your business and the volume grows. Instead of letting one employee’s inbox get buried in messages, while other members of your team are in the dark, employ a ticketing system or online help desk like Groove or FreshDesk.

Help desk solutions provide a central place to access customer issues and communicate.  Set up a contact form on your website, and route communications by type to central inboxes, where assigned individuals on your team can answer them.  These solutions also help you create a knowledgebase of commonly asked questions. This becomes a self-serve portal for customers, eliminating the need to answer many questions individually.

3. Managing Marketing Communications

Those who successfully use marketing automation report that it’s like having another employee or two in your business.  Marketing automation software like Infusionsoft and Hubspot gives you a way to automate large chunks of your online marketing, by establishing a series of steps for generating leads on your website, and then designating follow-up activities. For instance, you can send a series of follow-up emails to people who have visited your site and filled out a lead form for one of your free downloads.

4. Filling Out Online Forms

This is a personal productivity enhancer. Inputting your name, company, address, and contact information time after time in online forms can be tiresome. A software program like Roboform stores your data so you don’t have to manually enter it each time you come across one of those pesky online forms.  Or simply use the similar functionality built into browsers such as the Chrome.

5. Backing Up Data

Despite our good intentions, too many of us forget or put off this important activity until it’s too late.  And it’s not just us — what about our employees?

Today there are so many inexpensive tools on the market that automatically back up data at scheduled intervals (example: Carbonite), that there’s no excuse for data loss.  Or if your company’s data is mainly in the form of documents, pictures and similar files, use one of the central cloud storage platforms, such as Microsoft OneDrive, Google Drive, or Apple iCloud, to store everything in the cloud.

6. Scheduling Meetings

When scheduling meetings with many people, finding a time good for everyone’s schedules can be a daunting task. Instead of going back and forth in a long email chain, set up a scheduling app like ScheduleOnce to simplify the process.

ScheduleOnce allows users to connect their existing calendars from sources like Google or Outlook. So when you need to schedule a meeting or appointment, you can invite others to view available dates and choose an open time that works for them.

7. Managing Your Inbox

Email can be one of the most time consuming tasks on an office worker’s daily to-do list. When it comes to sorting emails, you can set up labeled folders for different types of emails, like newsletters and communications with clients. You can even enable Smart Labels within Gmail, so that the platform will automatically sort some of your emails, like promotions and social notifications, into separate folders.

When it comes to responding to emails, there are likely some responses that are going to be the same or at least similar. Set up canned responses in Gmail or email templates in Outlook instead of re-typing those messages over and over again.

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5 Ways to Balance Leadership and Parenthood

It seems to be common ideology nowadays that being the leader of a company and being a parent are mutually exclusive roles, and that just isn’t true, reports Entrepreneur. Although it can be difficult to strike a balance and be great at both, it is not impossible. All it takes is a little bit of strategizing and commitment. As the father of two young sons, 1 and 4 years old, and the CEO of a national sandwich chain, I’ve come across a few tips that have helped me balance the two roles:

1. Set your nonnegotiables and stick to them.

For example, I have set the rules that (1) I will never miss one of my children’s sporting events; (2) I will drop my kids off at school twice a week; and (3) I will wake up early enough to make and eat breakfast with my kids every day. On the days I am dropping them off at school, I come into the office late so that I can have that bonding time with my children in the car.

Setting these nonnegotiable items helps you to structure your schedule and make time to fulfill your role as a parent. Choose a few set things and make sure you fully commit to them, regardless of what work issue may come up. Once you start to let things slide, the entire purpose of setting these nonnegotiables has been lost.

2. Be cognizant that work can usually wait.

One thing I’ve learned in the years that I’ve been a CEO, is that work can usually wait. Letting work consume your life and infringe on the joys you get as a parent is unhealthy and a hindrance to producing great work. It’s important to take that time to breathe and focus on being a parent to your children. When I get home, I put away my phone until my kids go to bed and return emails and phone calls later on in the evening.

If something is a true emergency, my team knows how to get hold of me through channels other than email. The small window of time I get to spend with my kids at dinner and bedtime is incredibly valuable, and it’s perfectly fine to take off your work hat to put on your parent hat.

3. Privileges must be companywide.

If you expect your team to understand your priorities, whatever applies to you has to apply across the office. For example, our chief marketing officer works twice a week from home so that he can spend time with his kids. This applies to all Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop staff members: Their schedule can absolutely work around their roles as parents, as long as the bottom line is met and work is completed to our standards.

I let my team know that if any of them need to take time away from the office to be a parent, as I do, then they should take the time off. This policy not only creates a culture of support and understanding, but is consistent with our family-centered brand. Policies like these tend to help in retaining talent and creating an environment that fosters quality work.

4. Create small blocks of time that allow you to get away.

I will often spend my lunch break to see my boys at home; they are my absolute best friends. This practice gives me a brief block in the middle of the day where I can disconnect from work and focus on being a dad. Other ways professionals can do this include setting aside a time to call or video-chat with their children; whether that occurs every day or once a week, the objective is to establish a set time-frame and stick to it.

Work can get busy, but it’s not impossible to find those few minutes in the day where you can be a parent — calling home, for instance, while you’re en route to the restroom, getting your next cup of coffee or in your car — and not driving! — on the way to a meeting, to name just a few.

5. Don’t forget about your support system.

I am lucky enough to have an amazing wife who is incredible and supportive. She understands that work can get crazy at times and does all she can to lighten my load at home so I can focus on being a dad when I’m there. Now, while not everyone is fortunate enough to have that kind of support system in their house, that does not mean you can’t find it elsewhere. Consider working out a system with a neighbor, friend or colleague. It’s all about finding the support system that works best for you.

While juggling leadership and parenthood can be a daunting task, it is certainly achievable. All it takes is making a commitment to both roles. Finding the small ways to manage both can have an enormous impact not only on the quality of your life, but the quality of your children’s.

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Making the Most of Time in the F&I Office

The average time consumers spend on purchasing a new vehicle is almost four hours from start to finish – and most customers agree this is way too long. Once the customer has chosen a vehicle and negotiated the sale, they proceed to the F&I office. There, the F&I manager has numerous products to present, and a growing number of forms and disclosures to deal with due to increasing state and federal regulations. Without unnecessarily adding to the total transaction time, F&I managers must go through all the steps from securing financing and presenting products to the signing of paperwork in a very limited amount of time. We spoke to top trainers and agents and asked them how to achieve customer satisfaction while facilitating an efficient and productive transaction.

The Bigger Picture

Tony Dupaquier, director of training for American Financial’s F&I University, says in most cases the problem with the transaction being too lengthy starts well before the business manager is ever involved. He estimates that 80% of the time, required information is left out of the deal when it arrives in the business office. He says the front end – not the back end – is the biggest contributing factor to an excessively lengthy transaction. “The issue is not the time it takes for the F&I manager to complete the transaction, it’s all that leads up to that,” says Dupaquier, “The F&I manager has to spend a lot of time running around getting information and correcting things that are wrong on the paperwork before they can even start their product presentation.” He says this still happens around 20% of the time with some of the best, most well trained sales managers.

Ron Reahard, president, Reahard & Associates, Inc., agrees. He believes the issue is not the time a customer spends in the finance office; it’s the time they spend waiting to get in the finance office that creates customer dissatisfaction. “The other issue is whether or not the customer feels the F&I process is adding value or aggravation to their purchase experience. If the customer feels the F&I person is genuinely trying to help them, they don’t care how long it takes. If the customer feels the F&I person is merely trying to sell them products they don’t want and don’t think they need, ten minutes is too long.”

So what kind of information is it that the business office has to spend time waiting for, looking for, or correcting? An example would be information that was either not obtained or was recorded incorrectly by the sales department, such as copying a customer’s address from their drivers license and failing to ask if they still reside at that address. In this situation, when the customer arrives in the business office, the F&I manager has to reprint and correct all forms that contain the customer’s address – wasting time that could be spent on far more valuable tasks. Other items that are often missing are the new and trade-in vehicles’ mileage, payoff amount, and the loan holder’s information. “So much time in the F&I office is spent correcting inaccuracies coming from the sales department! And it is a problem nationwide,” says Dupaquier.

In addition, if a customer simply has not been made aware of the required paperwork that they must provide – such as title, registration and proof of insurance – having to obtain it when they arrive in the F&I office adds significant time to the deal.

Putting the customer in the right car from the start – one that fits with the amount they wish to pay monthly – can also save an hour or two of what Dupaquier feels is often unnecessary negotiation. “Say the customer says they want to spend $400 dollars a month but the sales department puts them in a car that will cost $550 dollars. Then they begin negotiating the deal and it takes an hour and a half to do this. It drives me crazy!”

At a one-price dealership, with fully transparent pricing, the transaction time is significantly less than at a traditional dealership where price negotiating is the norm. According to Dupaquier, at a one-price dealership, the entire transaction could be done in the amount of time it takes to print out the paperwork!

Planning and Managing the Time Spent in F&I

Before the customer arrives in the F&I office, Steve Pearl, president, The Oak Group, says there are a number of time-saving maneuvers that the business manager can and should engage in. “The deal should be input to the computer for one thing. Another is the F&I manager needs to have a conversation with the salesperson and sales manager about how the transition was structured. The customer needs to be briefed ahead of time on what forms they need to provide, such as title and registration. Finally, the F&I manager needs to ensure the car is being prepared for delivery.”

Bill Kelly, partner/owner, Automotive Development Group (ADG), added that ideally, though it is not always possible, the F&I manager should be prepared with a structured, approved deal and a complete menu. “Title paperwork and other forms that don’t affect the numbers can be pre-printed prior to the customer arriving in F&I, so that the time spent in the office is used most efficiently.”

“It’s not secret agent spy stuff we are doing in the F&I office,” says Reahard, “The customer needs to ‘see’ what that F&I manager is doing – that he or she is preparing their paperwork as quickly as possible. The F&I manager needs to have time to discover the customer’s needs by asking questions as the paperwork is being prepared.” Reahard says the F&I process has to be totally transparent. “The F&I process should be viewed by the customer as expediting the delivery process, not prolonging it, and this requires F&I professionals to have the ability to multitask.”

The actual appearance of the F&I manager’s office is not something to be overlooked pointed out Gerry Gould, director of training, United Development Systems, Inc. (UDS). “Many F&I managers don’t get their office ready for business and it is in disarray when the customer enters it.” A clean, comfortable office environment sets the tone for a smooth, relaxed conversation with the customer. A chaotic office does not lend itself to making customers feel at ease.

Pearl believes that 45 minutes should be the typical time a customer spends in the F&I office. However if the customer has already been held up for a significant amount of time prior to arriving in F&I, he says it is the responsibility of the F&I manager to complete the transaction more quickly.

Menu Presentations

Presenting products using a menu offers numerous advantages. According to Pearl, Menu selling is a must – and not the old fashion paper menu. “With all the quality menus on the market, it not only makes the sale less confrontational but it also increases the speed.”

Kelly points out that the menu is just a tool; proper use of the menu is what makes it work. During their menu presentation, Kelly says the F&I manager should review the deal structure and then present up to eight products.

Kelly says that ADG has developed a two-step method to present up to eight products and deliver a complete menu presentation in five to seven minutes. If a customer has concerns or objections, he trains F&I managers to address those concerns in an additional five to ten minutes. Based on customer surveys, Kelly reports that some manufacturers are guiding dealers towards a 50-minute total transaction – this is from the moment the customer says “yes” to the sales person until the moment they leave the F&I office. However, once a transaction reaches F&I, he thinks the transaction can be completed in even less time. This includes all the necessary steps from credit approval, menu presentation and product sales to the completion of paperwork.

Reahard also believes that the proper use of a menu is key to a well given, succinct presentation. “A menu allows an F&I manager to present multiple products in a brief amount of time, and makes it easier for a customer to buy more products. The fact is, in the F&I office you can only sell two or three products before the customer has had enough, but a customer can buy six or seven products if they’re in a package on a menu. That’s why the manufacturers offer option packages, and McDonald’s has value meals.  Grouping products into a package makes it easier for a customer to see the value of buying a package.”

John Braganini, principal, Great Lakes Companies, says trying to present too many products to a customer can take up too much time if not done properly. Ideally, he says four to seven products should be presented using a personal, pre-printed menu.

Keeping the F&I presentation to 45 minutes or less is what Gould recommends as a best practice. He describes step-by-step how to deliver a presentation in just more than a half hour: “First, review each DMS screen in front of the customer. It should take no more than three to five-minutes to verify and gather information from the customer. Printing paperwork should take no more than eight to ten-minutes. A product disclosure/menu presentation should be no more than three minutes. This should be precise and to the point – no selling or lengthy descriptions. Handling customers concerns over purchasing products should be less than ten minutes. Finally, signing the paperwork should take no more than eight minutes.”

Gould emphasizes the importance of delivering a feature presentation without including the benefits statements. He says an initial focus on selling, rather that telling adds unnecessarily to the time spent in F&I and wears the customer out. Developing a presentation that presents each column of the menu as one complete option narrows the customer’s choices and allows the presentation to be done more swiftly. “Each product should be described in no more than two or three sentences and the description should only point out what the product does. For example, to describe a tire and wheel product, you would tell the customer, ‘Tire and wheel coverage pays to replace or repair tires damaged by a road hazard for the next five years. A road hazard is anything that’s not supposed to be in the road.’” A simple, yet concise explanation of coverage works best.

Advice from the Experts

The most often repeated advice Braganini gives to F&I managers is: “personalize everything and project confidence.” He emphasizes good presentation skills, having a prepared menu and loading the deal in the DMS before the customer’s arrival. By doing all of these things, you will be ready for an effective conversation with the customer.

There are several sayings that Pearl has used many times through the years.

  • “No one has the right to say no for a customer. Be sure the customer is presented all the products available.”
  • “If a customer says no the answer should be ‘ok’. This totally diffuses the customer’s barriers. You can then circle back at a later point.”

And this leads to his last piece of advice…

  • “Conversation not confrontation.” Be able to discuss the pros and cons rationally and logically without putting it in the customer’s face.

Gould says rather than waiting on a customer to be dropped off in the F&I office, F&I managers should be proactive. “Get off your axle and meet the customer in the showroom!” Then, when giving the presentation, he advises F&I managers to “tell” initially and “sell” once you have the customer’s attention.

Take it from the pros – incorporate these tips and time saving tricks, and you will find a great starting point for improving efficiency, and streamlining transactions. The result? Satisfied customers and profitability in the F&I office.

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