The Importance of Automotive F&I Training: Intelligence, Empathy and Compliance

Starting a new career can be an exciting endeavor. Whether you’ve already been working in the automotive industry and are looking to advance at your employer or you are interested in this career path, it’s critical to get the right kind of training to ensure you are able to perform the level of service your customers require and you’ll be able to impress your employer. The proper finance and insurance training for the automotive industry can instill intelligence, empathy and compassion, all traits that are essential to help individuals get behind the wheel of their vehicle as quickly and easily as possible.

It Can Be a Challenge

While automotive finance and insurance can be a rewarding career path, it’s important to recognize it can be a challenge too. This doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy the work you do. After all, you’ll be helping people obtain the financing and other products they need to successfully own their car without putting too much strain on their personal finances. However, you will have to put a lot of work into preparing for this career path. It isn’t a job you can be hired for and train onsite with a high chance of a successful outcome. On-the-job training is still a critical element in your career, but it isn’t the most important in this case. Getting an education in F&I management is necessary to ensure you can remain compliant with the ever-changing financial industry and its laws and regulations. As long as you choose a reputable school like the Automotive Dealership Institute, you can rest assured you will get the necessary training to be able to do your job and do it well. Your customers will be able to count on your in-depth knowledge of the financial sector, so they can get the loan they need, as well as any other related products that allow them to get behind the wheel of the car of their dreams. For those who want a challenge in their work, F&I management is a clear winner.

A Changing Field

Automotive finance and insurance is a constantly changing field. If you attempt to work as an F&I manager at a dealership without getting training from the right school, you will quickly find yourself falling behind and unable to give your customers exactly what they need. There are certain compliance laws that need to be followed and it’s essential to have a firm understanding of where the financial industry stands. This means you need to work with a school that provides a solid foundation for working in this field, as well as keeps you up to speed on all the changes that are currently taking place and will occur in the future. Your goal is to remain educated in order to continue helping your customers obtain their loans and to provide compliance and other training to the sales staff and the rest of the team at the dealership. They will look to you as a leader to keep them updated on all the latest changes, so they can continue to provide the high level of service that keeps customers coming back.

On-the-Job Training Isn’t As Effective

For most jobs, you can get started and be trained to do what you need to right onsite without going through specialized training. This isn’t the case in automotive finance and insurance. Training for this type of job is delicate, but can be done in as little as 4 weeks. If done incorrectly, you could make serious mistakes that not only hurt your customers, but can also harm the overall reputation of the dealership for which you work. This can be detrimental to your overall career path as well. Instead, it’s best to turn to a school that specializes in this type of training. When a dealership hires someone who has already gone through the necessary training, not only can they get started in their work right away, but they are also more likely to be well-educated in the financial sector and be able to provide a much higher level of service. This can save the dealership both time and money that would otherwise be spent on extensive training or missing out on a valuable employee while they go through training.

An Easy Training Solution

When you choose the Automotive Dealership Institute for your training in F&I management, you have the option to get the training you need either in-person at our Scottsdale, Arizona campus, or at your own convenience through our online course. If you choose to take our online course, you will be able to get your F&I certification from the comfort of your home or anywhere else you have an Internet connection. It can be done on your time, fitting around your already busy schedule, whether you’re already working in a dealership or you’re looking for a complete career change. If finance and insurance interests you, this can be a great opportunity to advance your career and get a higher level of pay for rewarding work.

Interested in learning more about F&I training at the Automotive Dealership Institute? Contact our helpful advisory staff today!

Responsibilities of an F&I Manager

The automotive finance and insurance industry is booming and more individuals who are looking to expand their careers in this field are turning to this option. While you need to start with getting a solid education in the F&I field first, just like any other career advancement opportunity, if your goal is to become an F&I manager, it’s essential to understand more about the responsibilities of an F&I manager so you can be better prepared to take on this role. The following information will provide you with the guidance you need so you can decide if this is the right choice for you, as well as start working toward your goals by seeking out a qualified school like the Automotive Dealership Institute, from which you can earn your certificate and land yourself the job of your dreams.

The General Answer

If you ask anyone what an F&I manager in the automotive industry does, you’ll likely encounter answers like handling money or selling cars. In the most basic terms, this is true. When you work in the field of finance and insurance as it relates to the automotive industry, you will be helping the rest of the sales staff sell cars, as well as assist customers in obtaining the vehicle they want at a price they can afford. However, these aren’t the only responsibilities of an F&I manager. There’s much more you should know about the job before you decide if you want to pursue this career path.

Protection from Legal Issues

Whenever you’re working in a field where goods and money exchange hands, there are a lot of legal issues and risks that come into play. In your role as an F&I manager, a lot of the responsibilities associated with protecting the dealership from litigation fall on your shoulders. You are likely the one who will be dealing with exchanging funds with your customers and making sure they are fully satisfied with their experience. Many individuals are wary of working with car dealerships for fear of being scammed or getting a vehicle that doesn’t work the way it was promised. It’s your job to make sure customers feel confident in the purchase they are making and your dealership is fully covered from any legal issues that could arise as the result of a sale. This includes making sure the customer is who they say they are so you aren’t selling a car under fraudulent premises.

Explain Benefits

When customers sit down with you in your office, it’s up to you to explain everything to them in a way they understand. This extends beyond simply talking about the financing terms under which they’re buying a vehicle. There are many additional services a dealership may offer their customers, such as extended service contracts and GAP insurance. In most cases, it’s the responsibility of the F&I manager to not only offer these products to the customers at the time of the sale, but also explain the details, how they work, how much they cost and why they can be beneficial so customers can make the most informed decision possible. It’s not just about selling a car; it’s about making sure customers are ready to take on the responsibility of owning that car.

Working with Vendors

Not only will you be dealing with customers on a daily basis, but you’ll also be responsible for maintaining relationships with lenders and other vendors so your dealership can continue to provide a high level of service to the customers. You need to stay on top of the changing trends within the industry and pass this information along to your sales people, so they never provide inaccurate information to the customer. You may be the last line of defense before customers drive off the lot, but your sales team is the front line, and they need to be prepared as well.

Other Responsibilities

Some other responsibilities of an F&I manager include:

  • Processing accurate deals
  • Creating new programs to draw in customers and increase sales
  • Stay updated on leasing and financing option trends
  • Offer stellar customer service

What Are the Job Requirements

Now that you’re aware of the responsibilities of an F&I manager, it’s essential to learn how you can land this kind of job. First and foremost, due to the delicate nature of dealing with financing on these larger purchases, it’s essential to seek an education from a qualified institution. The Automotive Dealership Institute offers an online course as well as a 4-week hands-on in-person program that stands apart from all others, allowing you to get certified in the area of finance and insurance for the automotive industry with confidence. However, before you move up the ranks to management, you will likely first need to gain at least two years of experience at a dealership with a preferred year of experience as a manager, develop solid communication skills and show that you hold to a high standard of ethics. All these factors will ensure you are fit for this job, along with all of its responsibilities.

Leadership Skills Every F&I Manager Needs To Be Successful

The leadership and interpersonal skills that an F&I professional displays will have a quantifiable impact on how many customers are willing to finance their cars with the dealership and purchase additional coverage and add-ons. If you want to thrive in this industry, therefore, you should focus on cultivating these skill sets to help you better engage not only with your customers, but also with the rest of your team. Here are the top 5 F&I manager skills to focus on building to propel your F&I career.

Taking responsibility

As the leader of the F&I team, you need to take responsibility for the results of your team. A good leader will look for ways to help their team members continue to rise above potential obstacles and find a way to thrive. Good leaders understand that potential problems, such as caps from the bank, will always be there. Instead, they continue to exceed expectations by finding ways to overcome them.

Along the same lines, do not become complacent with the results your team sees. Even if your team obtains pretty positive results, as the leader, constantly look for ways to take your performance to the next stage. Work with the rest of your team to find areas to improve so that you continue to excel.

Focusing on honesty

Honestly is an important trait of anyone working in F & I. When customers feel as though they can trust you, they become more inclined to listen to what you propose. They will be more open to the different options you present, and thus they become more likely to finance their car or get coverage from you.

This honesty needs to also apply to other members of your team. You should feel confident that your team behaves with absolute integrity. If you do not feel that you can trust someone on your team, they should not be there.

Similarly, you also want to communicate honestly with your own team. Establish a strong rapport with them that helps you provide quality, helpful feedback. Let them know that you are on their side and that you just want to help them maximize their potential on the job.

Empathy and understanding for customers

Putting yourself in the position of other people is a powerful means to improve communication. Customers feel understood and that you truly want to help them. It also helps you understand their likely objections and hesitations, guiding you to create packages that truly meet their needs.

You want your customers to feel as though they are being presented with options. You do not want them to feel as though you are just trying to make a sale. Let your empathy come through in how you speak with your customers and present them with their sales options.

Always look for ways to improve your process

You should always be looking for ways to improve your sales processes. A strong sales process can help you build good habits and make it easier to see success. Look closely at each stage of the buying cycle. This includes examining what the sales team does and how they prepare a customer to send to you. Work together with the entire team to identify the weakest points in the chain as well as a means to improve them.

Ask team members for their opinions and impressions, but also look at the rates of leads to sales and how many of them finance with the dealership. See where the breakdowns occur.

As a leader, you should remain focused on your goals and dedicated to delivering results. Regularly auditing your sales process this way and finding weak points that you can improve will strengthen your ability to pull in new customers.

Improve your communication

Communication plays a vital role in the sales process. Communication not only impacts how well you interact with your team, but also with your customers. You want to make sure that as people speak, you actively listen to what they have to say. Using the other skills mentioned, such as honesty and empathy, you will find it easier to offer them meaningful advice and feedback.

Within your team, poor communication can lead to breakdowns between the sales, finance department, and management. Working together to outline clear expectations and creating policies of transparency between the members of the team can help to eliminate blunders.

If problems do emerge due to poor communication, take time to identify the source of the problem. Outline a plan to eliminate this potential cause of poor communication so that this problem does not occur in the future again.

In the F&I departments of car dealerships, strong leadership can lead the rest of the team to see tremendous success. Understanding how to nurture these traits will make it easier for you to reach new heights in the industry. Focus on improving these 5 F&I manager skills and you will see a clear difference in your ability to manage your team and see the results you want.

Ready to take your F&I skills to the next level? Learn more about our industry leading F&I training program!