Tag Archive | "Tony Dupaquier"

RoadVantage Takes Dealer Training to the Next Level with Program Optimized for Web-Savvy Consumers


AUSTIN – RoadVantage, the fastest-growing provider of F&I programs for the automotive industry, today announced the launch of a cutting-edge dealership training program that has been optimized to help dealerships sell to today’s Internet-educated shoppers.

“Today’s dealership customers are a new breed of savvy – their shopping habits have evolved radically in the last decade,” said Garret Lacour, founder and CEO of RoadVantage. “Dealership practices must evolve accordingly.”

RoadVantage is offering F&I and sales operations training in partnership with The Academy, an Austin-based training center that has developed a curriculum specifically designed with today’s Internet-educated consumer in mind.

“The Academy’s uniquely developed process recognizes that a shift in mentality and focus is necessary in the face of today’s more informed customers,” said Tony Dupaquier, Director of The Academy. “Post-training surveys indicate that students who attend The Academy experience higher closing ratios, profit margins and CSI scores.”

The RoadVantage Dealer Training Program includes workshops for personnel at all levels within F&I and sales operations. The comprehensive training covers a wide range of topics and can take place onsite at the dealership, or at The Academy’s state-of-the-art training facility in Austin, Texas. Self-paced online training modules are also offered.

“Everyone knows consumers are researching and shopping online, so it’s time we equip dealers with the tools they need to effectively reach them,” continued Lacour. “This is a big initiative of ours. Last fall we created free online videos, available to all dealers nationwide, to drive consumer awareness of F&I programs before they go into the dealership to purchase their vehicle. Alongside our free online dealer videos, our new dealer training program is another example of how we are working to help dealers provide a better customer experience.”

The free dealer videos are available on the RoadVantage YouTube channel at http://bit.ly/2fWigrR. More information on the RoadVantage Training Program can be found at http://roadvantage.com/training.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments Off on RoadVantage Takes Dealer Training to the Next Level with Program Optimized for Web-Savvy Consumers

Service Group Tabs Dupaquier as Director of Training Center


AUSTIN— Service Group announced today that F&I trainer and automotive expert Tony Dupaquier will lead the company’s national training center, called The Academy. He will teach classes and develop the school’s curriculum and marketing outreach, reports F&I and Showroom.

“We are very excited to add Tony D to our training team,” says Matt Woods, director of training solutions for Service Group. “He brings an additional level of experience and expertise to an already top-notch team. His desire to help others maximize their own performance aligns with Service Group’s objective of giving people the power to perform.”

Dupaquier brings a wealth of training experience to Service Group. He recently celebrated his 25th year in the car business. He’s held nearly every position in variable operations, from salesperson to general manager, and is a former Nissan National Walk-Around Champion. Dupaquier most recently served as director of American Financial and Automotive Services’ F&I school, where he was responsible for content, direction and marketing.

The F&I trainer has also been a featured workshop presenter at the National Automobile Dealers Association’s annual convention and has spoken at numerous 20 Groups and state dealer associations.

Posted in Auto Industry NewsComments Off on Service Group Tabs Dupaquier as Director of Training Center

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.

Posted in IndustryComments (0)

The Light at the End of the Tunnel


After spending a week in New Orleans for the American Financial Services Association (AFSA) conference and the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) convention, there is no doubt in my mind that the future is bright for the success of the F&I office. There was plenty of talk, recommendations and insight concerning the federal oversight looming over the finance reserve issue, and the buzz for inside the F&I office is and will continue to be technology. According to the “experts”, the industry saw changes in the market; some were good and some do raise concerns. Depending on your view of the impending changes in our industry, the light at the end of the tunnel may be one of two things – however there is a third.

If you have been in the automotive industry for any length of time, you know the one constant of our industry is change. Things change. The product, the customer, the dealerships, the owners, the laws, the credit, the finance companies – regardless of the changes, we adapt and overcome. We are now seeing the changes in real time. In the past the change would happen and it would filter down into the dealerships and then into the F&I office. Today we see it coming by reading it, hearing it and seeing on the news. Being able to see the changes in real time gives us the opportunity to make adjustments in our processes, so when we have no choice in the matter, we are already prepared.

If you have not started preparing for the loss of finance reserve as we have known it, the time is now. It is happening with some finance companies already, and soon all will be required to comply. This is not an option for the finance companies. I heard it directly from the Assistant Director of the CFPB: discretionary pricing at the dealership level should not be allowed. The good news is that dealerships will continue to be compensated fairly for the work and effort to secure a loan for the customer, as long as it is not based on a discretionary form.

There were several recommendations given to compensate the dealership:

  • A flat fee – With factory-incentivized rates, many dealerships are accustomed to this already.
  • A percentage of Line 5 (amount financed) – Many of our finance companies
    already offer this model.
  • A hybrid – This was the new one. A mix between a basic flat, a
    percentage of line 5 and compensation based off of the term of the loan.

The last day of the NADA convention, there was a workshop that handed out a Fair Credit Compliance Policy & Program. It outlined the recommendations from NADA on how dealerships may want to handle finance reserve for the time being. This is a fantastic initiative encouraging a written process at the dealership level. This sends a message the federal agencies that we, as an industry, want to do what is right to discourage any type of discrimination.

In my opinion – and I hope I am wrong on this – the federal oversight hammer will come down, and the ability to negotiate the sell rate from the buy rate will no longer be an option. My advice: take the flat and focus on your product sales. I know this is not the most popular position, however, for the dealerships that focus on reserve the light at the end of the tunnel will be a train.

The Changing Face of F&I
Technology is a major focus by the factories on the sales floor; more and more factories are requiring the sales team to be equipped with a tablet to assist in the sale of the vehicle. We know many of our customers are becoming accustomed to technology in their everyday life as well, and the retail automobile industry is responding. When it comes to the F&I office, the move to more technology is not always embraced at the same level as the sales floor. Do not be afraid of the technology: it can help, and as time moves forward, it may make our lives, as F&I managers, a bit easier.

Many companies have introduced tablet-based F&I presentation tools and solutions, and these have come with mixed emotions, with good reason. One thing is clear though, the customers want to be involved, and tablet technology facilitates that involvement, but how involved is the business manager? This is where many F&I managers have a severe disconnect.

As a dealer, general manager, finance director or business manager, you may be looking at a tablet or digital piece for your F&I office and I encourage you to look; however, you need to find the right fit for situation. The wrong tablet or digital technology has proven to be as detrimental to the success of the F&I office as the right technology is helpful.

Many of the tablets are almost designed to be a digital F&I manager, reducing the amount of interaction between that person and the customer. This is the primary objection of many F&I managers. If you have an F&I office that is struggling, and the talent pool available in your dealership is shallow, this is a viable option. If you have good or even strong F&I manager, make sure you go with a tool that is more of an electronic menu. I saw a new one at NADA that will be released this month that is a great “split the difference” between something the customer can work with and something familiar enough to the F&I manager that they will be comfortable using it. Do you need a solution or a tool: there is a distinct difference between the two, and you need to find the one that will work best in your F&I office. The light at the end of this tunnel is the glow from a backlight.

The Stats Don’t Lie
There was a fair amount of statistics about the automotive industry from the finance side at NADA. Looking at the numbers, we have to be prepared for the direction the industry is moving: longer term loans, the popularity of leasing and the amount of disposable income are all factors that directly impact our industry and, more specifically, the F&I office.

All of the economic indicators show another strong year for 2014, with an increase of disposable income. What has helped this is less debt per household, less debt overall and more money, which allows for more cars sold and customers able to afford more F&I products.

A few interesting numbers: 84.8% is the finance and lease penetration on new vehicles, while that number is 54.6% on pre-owned. This shows that the finance companies have the money to lend and, more importantly, are willing to do so. This is being pushed by higher credit scores averaging 716 for new and 648 for pre-owned; the increase comes from less debt and more disposable income. This is a double bonus for our industry.

The average loan amount for 2012 was $26,685 with an average payment of $459, and an average term of 65 months. The interesting point here is that the average loan amount and payment stayed about the same for 2013 however the length of term increased, and now 72 months is normal for new car loans.

With longer-term loans more accessible, 19.3% of all new car loans exceeded 72 months last year. For the sales department, this increases the length of time to have a customer come back into the buying cycle, however for the F&I office this generates plenty of need for GAP and service contracts. From a statistical outlook, the light at the end of the tunnel is a bright and shiny opportunity for the F&I office.

2014 has all the indicators for a strong year in the automobile industry. The factories are producing fantastic products with the marketing behind them to drive customers into the dealerships. The credit scores are up, the finance companies have money to lend out and the customers have more disposable income. Drop in some technology, and the F&I office will have a strong – if not another record breaking–year.

Posted in F&I, Training ArticlesComments (0)

As Leasing Grows, So Does F&I Opportunity


In a report released this past summer, Experian Automotive noted that new vehicle leasing had risen by 12.5 percent this year to date – it hit a record high since the firm started keeping track of the statistic in 2006. According to the report, leasing now accounts for as much as 27.5 percent of new vehicle financing in the first quarter of 2013, up from 24.4 percent in the same quarter in 2012.

At the same time, the report noted that lease payments were down – at an average of $459, down from $462 in 2012. That comes with longer loan terms for lease deals – 65 months in the first quarter of this year.

For dealers and agents, these numbers represent an opportunity. While there have always been successful exceptions, the majority of dealerships tend to focus their F&I efforts on finance deals, with leasing customers getting little-to-no attention. But these numbers demonstrate that lease customers are a large and growing segment of the population, and contrary to popularly held beliefs, F&I products are as relevant to them as to the finance customer.

“Leasing has certainly grown and continues to grow every month,” said Brian Crisorio, vice president, United Development Systems (UDS). “Some stores are going from one a month to 12 or more; in some stores leasing is just huge. Sure there are a couple of makes or models not as focused on leasing, but it seems like across the board everyone is in the leasing game.”

What products should dealers be focused on? The consensus was that many F&I products have a place in a lease deal. John Vecchioni, national sales director, United Car Care, noted that any wear and tear product is a good fit for a lease, as is any interior/exterior protection plan, key replacement or tire and wheel. He also noted, surprisingly, that GAP is a potential lease product as well.

Tony Dupaquier, director of F&I training, American Financial and Automotive Services, also put GAP at the top of his list. “Not all leases have GAP,” he noted, “that’s one of the things everyone keeps forgetting. You have to pay attention and make sure the lease has GAP in it, and if not, sell GAP. Most leases do have GAP in them, it’s built into the lease, but you sporadically find leases that do not come with GAP, and the business managers don’t even know it. They have to make sure GAP is included, and if not, sell GAP.”

Wear and tear or appearance protection plans – both interior, with chemical protection, and exterior with dent and ding – and tire and wheel, were the top ancillary products all three agreed that F&I managers need to be presenting to every lease customer.

“Any appearance product is typically a good one for the lease customer,” noted Crisorio. “Protecting the exterior finish as well as the interior from rips, tears and burns keeps the vehicle looking great. Paintless dent repair does much of the same thing – if it’s turned in with dents and dings, they get a bill. Keys are getting more expensive every year, so key replacement is becoming more important – a damaged or missing key when you turn in the car will be expensive. And tire and wheel is also a big one.”

Vecchioni noted that he sees more products being sold into leases as a bundle, rather than individually. “Bundling saves time, and that savings allows you to capitalize on features and benefits of the products along with the impact it brings that particular customer. Wear and tear protection along with an appearance package go together. You can bundle almost any product, just keep in mind they have to have some similar advantages that make sense.”

“A case could be made that there’s an advantage to selling a multi product versus selling individual products,” said Crisorio. “A lot of it depends on the approach of the F&I manager – train on the process regardless of the deal. Focus on options, rather than individual products, and give them the best protection for that customer.”

Dupaquier noted that he teaches his F&I managers to always start off with the lease products in a bundle. “If customer doesn’t want a package for whatever reason, they’ll typically go back and pick up an individual item,” he said, “so start with all of them packaged together. The most successful F&I departments I’m seeing, they’ll put together a lease package that will have all of them.”

The exceptions to the bundling rule seem to be two: prepaid maintenance and key replacement. All three agreed that those are great lease products, but are easier to sell as stand-alone products. It is harder, they noted, to build value for maintenance or key replacement. Dupaquier noted that in many cases, customers argue that they’ve never lost a key, so they don’t see the value in key replacement, and he sees prepaid maintenance as more of a customer retention tool than anything else. The trick on that, at least, is to price it effectively.

“A lot of business managers go with scheduled maintenance as their number one hit,” Dupaquier noted. “The only cautionary piece is your price point on it – on a lease, the product price is divided by the term of the lease, unlike a traditional finance deal, which is divided by 72+ months in some cases. So scheduled maintenance that is $400-$500 changes the lease price by such an amount of money it turns people off. When a dealership tries to make too much money on it, the customer goes away, since they can go get the services done cheaper elsewhere. And on the lease, the likelihood is that the customer is coming back to that dealership anyway because of the lease, so you have built in customer retention. So dealers should put the focus on the ancillary products, for the items customers are responsible for.”

At the end of the day, selling products into a lease deal should be no different than selling them into a financed deal. Other than specific objections that might come up, the approach should be exactly the same.

“The training for handling a lease customer is similar to training for a traditional finance deal or cash deal,” said Crisorio. “Much of our training is process related, and doesn’t change if the product does. Only some of the word tracks might change to fit that customer. The approach is identical. The important part is to build value in the products you’re presenting.”

“I would explain the conditions of the lease,” Dupaquier noted, “as part of the way they start off conversation. Make sure the customer is aware of their requirements as far as vehicle condition is concerned – the same type of disclosure as how many miles the vehicle can have. Things like windshield has to be 100 percent; any door dings they’re responsible for; no mismatched tires –they have to make sure they have four of the same; any paint fading or interior staining they’re responsible for, etc. So educate them on that, then it’s easy to generate demand for the product. Don’t approach it any different; work it similar to a finance deal, with the same basic approach.”

Vecchioni summed it up with a few tips for agents to bring back to their dealers. “1. Present every product to your customers; wear and tear products, appearance products, key replacement, and tire and wheel protection are products that make sense. 2. Ensure every regulation is complied with, going over every lease agreement and the customer’s obligation to the lease – it helps set up product.”

At the end of the day, all the forecasts show leasing as increasing in the near future, with more customers seeing it as a solid financial alternative to financing, especially with so many people taking credit hits in the last few years. Agents should be stressing the importance of those lease customers to their dealers, as it is a trend that isn’t going away any time soon, and it’s a profit opportunity that shouldn’t be missed. “Agents should embrace leasing as additional opportunities that earn money,” said Crisorio. “They have to support the dealer, and support the trends in the industry. There is nothing an agent can do to stop it, so embrace it, support it, and be a true partner to your dealer and help them in any way you can.”

Posted in F&IComments (0)

‘Stump the Pro’ Returns to 2013 F&I Conference


Las Vegas — Tony Dupaquier will return to the 2013 F&I Conference this September to put his objection-handling skills to the test. The director of F&I training for American Financial & Automotive Services Inc. (AFAS) will reprise his “Stump the Pro” challenge during a special interactive session scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 10:30 a.m.

This year, conference organizers have extended Dupaquier’s session to an hour and a half instead of one hour, providing attendees with more time to put the skills of one of the nation’s top F&I trainers to the test. The session will conclude at 12 p.m.

“The only complaint we received last year was that the session was too short, so we’re giving attendees what they want: more time to put Tony’s skills to the test,” said Gregory Arroyo, editorial director, F&I and Showroom magazine. “We’re very excited to have Tony back. He’s one of the premiere F&I trainers in the business and he really delivered a fun and educational session at last year’s event.”

Dupaquier is the head trainer for AFAS and is responsible for content, direction and marketing for the company’s F&I University. He started in the car business in 1990, serving in various roles at the retail level before joining AFAS in 2000. He has served as a guest speaker for a number of 20 Groups, dealer associations and NADA Conventions.

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.

Posted in Summit UpdatesComments (0)

Page 1 of 212