Path to Prosperity: Understanding Today’s Credit-Challenged Market

The automotive industry is changing.  Profit margins are narrowing as the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive – and complex.  Dealers are trying to find new ways to to sell more cars, minimize costs, develop additional profit centers and offer finance options that will meet consumer demands today and in the coming years.

 

Change is a precursor of advancement and growth. That’s particularly true in the automobile industry, which is evolving at a tremendous pace. The integration of new technologies are improving dealership’s cash flow and, ultimately, the bottom line.

 

For the consumer, choices are growing as well – not only in the myriad of products that have flooded the market – but in financing options, and the companies that offer them.

These choices have been trickling down to the nonprime market in a major way again. Want proof? Just see how many credit offers come flooding to those who have just had a bankruptcy discharged – and sometimes even before the discharge.

 

Dealers are aware of the new consumer trends, and have taken action by becoming more accommodating and flexible to their customer base. For the dealer, this is a time when even a slight competitive edge can mean significant profits.  In an effort to gain such an edge, dealers have embraced the opportunity to serve the non-prime market. Dealers have recognized that appealing to this still growing segment of the population offers huge dividends, both financially and philosophically.

 

An issue dealerships must face is an increasingly large percentage of consumers are currently in an economic position to finance a vehicle, but may have suffered credit setbacks for one reason or another. These customers are often excellent car-buying candidates, but remain haunted by their financial past.

 

It would be in the dealers’ best interests to capture this growing market, for a variety of reasons. Dealers who find a better way to capitalize on this opportunity – changing their procedures to address their customers’ needs – will not only remain ahead of their competition, they will pave the way for improved customer rights.

 

A successful approach to the credit-challenged customer can pay off in many ways:

 

  • Converting a massive consumer market into profitability.
  • Increasing responsiveness to a disparate customer base.
  • Protecting consumer investments through additional product sales.
  • Building dealership loyalty through repeat and referral business.

 

Dealers know that excellent credit gives the consumer a negotiating advantage. The balance of power shifts when dealing with a credit-challenged customer. But should still be kept in mind that customers credit options may be limited, but their choice of dealerships is not.

 

Any dealership which can address the customers’ needs respectfully and accommodate their wants will breed intense customer loyalty. These customers will tell their inner circles how the dealership was able to help them when no other store would. And, they’ll want to come back themselves when they are in a better position to upgrade their vehicles.

 

Best of all, As long as deals are structured properly, stipulations are collected and the paperwork process is in order, dealerships can prosper beyond prime.

The Importance of Attending an F&I Certification Program

For those interested in finding a promising career that allows them to enter a growing and competitive field that offers a stable income, the automotive finance and insurance industry, also known as automotive F&I, can be a great fit. With the number of car sales expected to increase in the coming years, car dealerships will be looking for qualified F&I professionals who can help them develop strong deals and offers for customers.

These car dealerships, however, will only want to work with professionals that they know will yield the best possible results. The most successful F&I professionals will be those who have a thorough understanding of the F&I field. They need to have the necessary training to fully understand how to interpret credit scores, create loan options, and find ways to appeal to both the customer while also benefiting the organization. This requires a combination of sales and finance skills. These car dealerships will want to find qualified candidates they can trust. For this reason, it is worth it to pursue the proper F&I training from a widely respected and established institution such as The Automotive Dealership Institute.

The Importance of the Best Training

The F&I industry requires a solid understanding of the credit industry. As an F&I professional, you will be responsible for interpreting credit scores, understanding how loans are structured, and then creating strong offers that can help customers get their dream cars, while still generating income for the dealership.

Car dealerships get a considerable amount of their income from the loans that F&I professionals create. Therefore, F&I professionals who do not do their jobs well can end up costing car dealerships money.

Like many industries, the car dealership industry has been impacted by the tremendous burst in technology. This means that customers today can easily research cars and loan options before they walk into the dealership. The F&I professional should therefore have the training they need to create deals that compete with these offers. They must know how to engage and sell to these types of customers.

There is also a considerable amount of technology used within the F&I industry itself. Many dealerships have already implemented these programs to help them create better deals more quickly and efficiently. Therefore, the F&I professionals entering the industry should have the proper training on these new forms of technology.

The Problems Associated with Poor Training

Unapproved organizations that claim to provide training for aspiring F&I professionals do not provide the same level of training. They often count on teaching students a few simple sales tricks, but they do not have the capacity to teach them the industry thoroughly.

They also lack access to the latest technology in the F&I industry, meaning that people who graduate from these programs do not learn how to use the latest software that their car dealerships will use. This means that the dealerships will have to take the time to train them on these basic functions they should have learned in training, resulting in time and financial loss for the dealership. Car dealerships will not want to deal with these extra steps, making it harder to get a job.

The Difference That Comes with The Automotive Dealership Institute

Those interested in obtaining the best quality education and training in the F&I industry only have one clear choice. There is only one school that has trained students for over three decades and serves as the only licensed and approved school in the country. The Automotive Dealership Institute has helped aspiring F&I professionals learn the ins and outs of the industry and establish themselves in dealerships across the country. As a part of their program, they not only help students learn about loans, but also offer training on the latest technology and techniques in use. This means graduating students are fully equipped to succeed in their new positions.

The program leaders at The Automotive Dealership Institute feel so confident in their training that they also help students find positions once they earn their certificate. Students also can receive help with resumes and job hunting. They additionally have the opportunity to speak with successful F&I professionals to help them better understand how to make a name for themselves and thrive in the industry.

The outstanding training students receive combined with job placement assistance helps the graduates from The Automotive Dealership Institute see a 90 percent job placement rate following graduation.

When it comes to getting a job, car dealerships know that prospective employees who attended The Automotive Dealership Institute have graduated from an established and respected program. They have made the investment in their career and education. Car dealerships also know that these employees will have the ability to jump right into their jobs and tasks. This means that they will not have to invest as much time training the new employees and the new hire can get started right away.

When it comes to hiring a new professional in the F&I industry, car dealerships want to find people they can trust to do the job well. Taking the time to obtain an in-depth education from the nation’s leading institute for automotive F&I professionals can go a long way to showing that you are the right person for the job. Armed with the training that only a truly legitimate institution can provide, you will also enter the profession feeling confident and prepared to thrive in your new career.

Get in touch with our advisors today to take the first step toward a lucrative career in automotive F&I!

Is F&I Manager Training Worth the Investment?

Those interested in finding a steady career that offers room for growth and interesting daily operations might come across the option of being an automotive F&I professional. To enter this competitive field, however, professionals need to go through training that teaches them all they need to know about the industry. This training requires commitments of both time and finances, leaving many to wonder if the training is worth it.

Training to become an F&I professional, however, offers people incredible benefits and a lifelong career. Here are just a few of the reasons that those who elect to go through F&I training end up experiencing the incredible benefits.

Entering a Field with Growth

Americans have had a long love affair with the automobile. This means that the incredible highway system can easily bring you across the country, but it also means that people will continue to buy cars at an impressive rate. In fact, from 2022-2025, the number of cars sold is expected to increase every year, with numbers by 2025 reaching a 10-year-high.

Becoming an F&I professional, therefore, offers you the chance to enter this exciting and growing field. With the customers coming to buy, car dealerships want to know that they have professionals on hand who understand how to build packages that appeal to the client and benefit the dealership. You get to help customers buy their dream cars. As car dealerships face the rising rate of purchases expected, they will be looking for qualified professionals to hire, meaning that those who have gone through this training have earned themselves a position in a competitive field.

The Job Pays Well

Those who go through F&I training also find that the job pays quite well, making it one of the higher-paying jobs available through trade school. Well-trained professions, such as those who graduate from the Automotive Dealership Institute, regularly land jobs that pay $100,000 or even higher.

Going through the training, therefore, can set you up for an excellent career path that will compensate you well. Your salary will make it easy to recuperate any costs associated with the training program.

If You Are a Qualifying Veteran, You Can Apply to Use Your VA Educational Benefits

Educational benefits provided by the VA make it much easier for those who have served in the armed forces to get an education. VA educational benefits can even help cover the cost of training to enter the F&I field, making these classes even more affordable for former military members looking for a solid civilian career to get started.

VA educational benefits help qualifying returning military members attend schools and institutions that are approved to accept such benefits. The Automotive Dealership Institute is the only automotive F&I school that works with returning members of the military to make use of their VA educational benefits for in-person, hands-on automotive F&I training.

The Job Lets You Use a Variety of Skills

When it comes to being successful as an F&I professional, there are a variety of skills you need to succeed. A friendly personality and sales skills will help you engage with potential clients and speak to them about the packages you can offer and what makes a particular payment plan a good fit for them. You can help them understand the value of what you offer and help them visualize themselves driving away in their dream car.

You also get the chance to use a variety of computational skills. Your car dealership trusts you to understand how to interpret information about credit scores and how to structure loans and packages that appeal to the customer while also benefiting the business. In many ways, you will play a critical role in the success of the dealership. Dealerships count on the loans and packages created by their F&I professionals to generate a significant amount of their revenue. Your leadership skills and critical thinking skills will be invaluable to you in this position.

The variety of skills you need to thrive in the F&I field mean that this job will not get boring. Every day will bring you something new as you deal with new customers and their unique situations. Your sales strategy, your leadership skills, and your critical thinking skills will all help you take your F&I training and turn it into a rewarding career.

Understanding the Importance of the Right Training

As we described above, training for a career in F&I can help you find a rewarding and strong career path. However, emerging professionals need to make sure that they get the training from the right place. There are a number of ‘schools’ who profess to teach F&I, but they teach very little. These unlicensed schools do not teach students the skills they need to do their jobs outside of a few small sales strategies. These professionals do not learn what they need to know to thrive as F&I professionals. These other ‘schools’ simply cannot offer what the Automotive Dealership Institute can, including:

  • Job placement assistance
  • An over 90% job placement rate
  • Hands-on instruction from distinguished F&I professionals
  • Ability to accept VA Educational Benefits including the Post-9/11 GI Bill for payment

The F&I field offers an exciting career path for those willing to invest in the proper training. If you are looking for a career where you can grow and thrive, consider the F&I training course offered at the Automotive Dealership Institute and see if you have what it takes to be a top-earning automotive finance & insurance professional!

Part II: Working with the Sales Team

Salespeople are very important to the dealership in general and the finance department in particular. Nothing happens in a dealership until a vehicle is sold. The salesperson has the first opportunity to influence the position of the customer toward the Finance office and all the F&I products.

 

Salespeople must have confidence in their finance managers to support them in securing the vehicle sale. They must believe that the No. 1 priority of the finance manager is to protect the front-end gross profit. The finance manager can obtain the trust and support of the salespeople in a number of ways.

 

  • Educating salespeople on how dealer-controlled financing can secure the sale and protect the front-end gross.

 

  • Making time for salespeople to consult on progress of the deals and pending approvals.

 

  • Being efficient with all paperwork. This shows salespeople that they have a competent finance manager, their vehicles will be delivered and they will get paid.

 

  • Preparing the vouchers and incentives accurately and timely for salespeople.

 

  • Participating in sales meetings.

 

  • Working as a TEAM with the sales force.

 

This cooperative behavior must continue once the finance manager has taken custody of the customer.  Just as inappropriate comments from the salesperson can sabotage the finance manager, the finance manager can easily undermine the salesperson’s rapport with the customer.   This may not only panic the customer, who may try to withdraw from the sale, it also jeopardizes any repeat or referral business this customer may have generated. With a few simple guidelines in place, though, this derailment can be easily avoided.

 

To maximize performance and alleviate mishandling of a deal, the finance manager should:

 

  • Separate the car sale from the vehicle financing.

 

  • Avoid commenting on or trying to close the car sale.

 

Avoid creating a negative attitude with the customer about the Sales Department or the salesperson.

 

Be sure to join us next week for in-depth insight on understanding today’s credit-challenged market.

Career Training for Veterans: Room for Growth in F&I

For those who join the military, it’s a career choice that gives them a solid foundation for their later years. However, for a variety of reasons, many people retire from or leave the military at a relatively young age, allowing them the freedom to pursue another career option for their lives. Because many people enter the military straight out of high school, they may not have the education they need to pursue a different career. This is part of the reason the military offers the Post-9/11 GI Bill to those who have served in the military for a specific amount of time. For these individuals, they can choose a new career path and get the training they need to embark on a new journey that offers the compensation they need to take care of their families.

Why Automotive Finance and Insurance?

These days, there are a vast number of opportunities for veterans after they leave the military. One of the best options for those who are looking for a career that doesn’t require a long amount of time to train for and can provide a viable source of income that has plenty of room for growth is the automotive finance and insurance industry. This industry is rapidly growing and dealerships are in dire need of individuals who have the training and expertise to handle the financial matters many customers find themselves facing. Few customers are able to pay cash for their cars and everyone who drives a car needs insurance. Unfortunately, many people who attempt to work in this field don’t have the training and don’t understand the strict regulations in place, which can cause serious problems for dealerships. Because customers now have the ability to do their own research in terms of financing their vehicles, as well as obtaining the needed insurance, it’s more important than ever for dealerships to have knowledgeable staff members who can help guide these individuals through the process as they purchase their next vehicle.

Why Choose the Automotive Dealership Institute

The finance and insurance aspect of the automotive industry is changing almost as quickly as the technology used in vehicles. This is why individuals need to work with a good school to get the education they need to be able to serve a dealership well. At the Automotive Dealership Institute, students have the option to complete their courses online or in-person at our Arizona campus and can complete the coursework in a short amount of time so they can begin looking for careers within the field. In addition, they can rest assured they will get the training they need, so they can gain a full grasp on the current regulations in place and provide the dealership they work for and the customers they serve with a high level of service that ensures they are well-informed and can make the best possible decisions for their needs. The Automotive Dealership Institute prepares their students to be able to construct the best deals for their customers, understand the ins and outs of the financial aspects of dealerships and know how to use the technology associated with this field.

In addition to providing the quality education individuals need to be able to excel in the finance and insurance aspect of automotive dealerships, they also provide their students with the necessary support after they graduate. The institute has a high success rate in placing its students and works hard to make sure everyone who graduates from their program has the resources necessary to get the job they want, as well as those required to continue learning and growing as this field changes. Because the way the financial world works can rapidly change, those who are involved in this field need to complete continuing education, so they can stay up to date on these trends and then pass the information along to everyone else at the dealership who needs to know. This will ensure customers get the high level of service they require to help them get behind the wheel of the vehicle they want.

Veterans Have an Advantage

There are few schools that offer the required training to work in the automotive finance and insurance industry to begin with. Many of the schools that do exist for this purpose can be expensive and may have requirements that aren’t easy for many people to meet. The good news is the Automotive Dealership Institute is custom-tailored to meet the needs of a diverse group of students so anyone who wishes to work in this field can get the necessary training to start their careers in automotive F&I on the right foot. Perhaps even better, this educational institute makes it even easier for veterans who meet the qualifications of the Veterans Administration to get this education to prepare for life outside the military. This is the only school offering this training to accept the Post-9/11 GI Bill as payment for their courses. This means former military personnel who meet the requirements won’t have to spend any of their own money to get certified to work in this field. They will graduate fully prepared to earn a good living in a career field that features a lot of growth potential.

If you’ve been thinking about what you should do for a career once you get out of the military, automotive finance and insurance can be a lucrative option that provides plenty of growth opportunities and a solid financial future. With the Automotive Dealership Institute accepting payments from the Post-9/11 GI bill, there’s no reason for veterans to delay exploring this career path choice. With flexible scheduling and no payments required, individuals can get the training they need to become an asset to any dealership and begin helping customers get behind the wheel of the car of their dreams.

Learn more about our F&I training program for Veterans

Part I: Working in Sync with the Sales Department

The Sales Department sells the vehicle and secures the front-end gross. The Finance Department completes the legal paperwork to deliver the vehicle and secures the backend profit. In order to maximize the total profit both departments must work together on every deal.

 

The two biggest problems that cause most Finance Departments to lose income are:

 

  1. The failure to properly familiarize the customer with a dealership’s financial services and F&I products.
  2. The manner in which a customer is introduced to the finance manager by the salesperson.

 

The contributing factors for these problems will, of course, vary from dealership to dealership, but the dealership that best handles them comes closest to maximizing its profit opportunities.

 

Sales management should make it a standard policy that all customers, regardless of their intentions of financing, must be given the opportunity to be professionally exposed to the dealership’s financial services and F&I products.

 

The proper introduction of the customer from the Sales to the Finance is critical to ensure a successful transaction. An improper comment from a salesperson can leave the finance manager to discuss his services in an unfavorable environment.

 

Successful Transition

 

Transitions, whether in life or in business, set the stage for what’s to come. In many cases, a smooth transition can lay the foundation for success from one phase of a process to another.

 

The same is true in automotive sales. The transition of the customer from the salesperson to the finance manager is critical to ensure a successful transaction. Without a proper introduction at the appropriate time, the customer will be ill-prepared for the final, and arguably, most important aspect of the sales process.  The best strategy is a well-practiced, seamless sales process.  Customers must never sense they are working with two separate departments.

 

There are two traditionally accepted methods of turning over the customer to the F&I manager. One system calls for the salesperson to escort the customer to the Finance Department, while the other entails the Finance Manager meeting the customer on the showroom floor or at the salesperson’s desk. The key is consistency. Whichever policy is in place should be followed with each and every customer to ensure a winning game plan. The Sales Department and the Finance Department must always keep in mind that they are playing for the same team. In order to win, the transition needs to be handled flawlessly.

 

The proper time for the introduction is at the point of sale. A premature introduction could scare off the prospective car buyer; if they’re not yet committed to the new investment, how can they consider the additional products and services designed to protect that investment? Conversely, if the introduction occurs too late, say at the time of delivery, the customer probably has already made arrangements for financing and other insurance needs.

 

Seamless Transition

 

There are purely psychological barriers that could inhibit a smooth transition. Salespeople are protective of “their” customer, and are aware that the sale they worked so hard to achieve could conceivably fall apart in the Finance Office. Consequently, their reluctance to introduce their customers to a third party that was not directly involved in the vehicle’s sale is understandable.

 

F&I Managers can counter this reticence by maintaining open lines of communication. Combat the fear of the unknown – the sequestered transaction between the F&I Manager and the customer – by sharing that information with the appropriate salesperson. That information, however, should not include the customer’s financial particulars. That is a privacy issue that must be protected at all times.  The F&I Department can further strengthen its relationship with the Sales Department by keeping it up to date on all deals. When word on a particular deal comes in, whether it’s positive or negative, it should be passed along. Processing all deals quickly and efficiently is also conducive to healthy inter-departmental interaction.

 

The salesperson, in turn, can prep his or her customers for the F&I experience.  If the customer has knowledge of the process, he can mentally prepare for it. That means he won’t be surprised, or upset, when he is asked to spend another 30 minutes at the dealership in the Finance Office after he already has spent hours making his deal.

 

Educating the Sales staff on the importance of the F&I Department and the value of its products can serve a dual purpose: it can help salespeople sell more vehicles, and can pave the way for increased backend profits. Today’s increasingly competitive marketplace means that few dealerships make any profit in the vehicle contract anymore.  With incentives and sales down, profits must be made elsewhere.  The selling of products and services has become a necessity.  The bottom line is that cooperation between the two departments is essential, so that the left hand knows exactly what the right hand is doing.

 

Be sure to stay tuned for Part II: Working with the Sales Team!

6 Steps to Becoming a Top F&I Consultant

Being a F&I consultant is one of the best positions at a car dealership. As a matter of fact, it’s one of the best-paid positions in a car dealership. If you’re interested in pursuing a career as a F&I consultant at a car dealership and want to be the best, you’re going to need a game plan. Here’s a look at 6 steps you can use as a blueprint for becoming a top F&I consultant.

1. Get Training on F&I Technology

Getting training on the various F&I software programs and technology you will use will give you the tools needed to become proficient in the industry.  With the rise of technology in the car industry, it’s critical to learn how to use the various software and platforms.  In order to succeed as a F&I consultant, you’ll need to know about the latest technology in the industry. This knowledge will help put you on top of your game. And when it comes to F&I education, Automotive Dealership Institute is the absolute best. This institute is the only licensed and government approved automotive F&I trade school in the US. The Automotive Dealership Institute has trained F&I professionals for dealerships for over three decades. Not only do students learn about lease calculations, Federal laws, finance products and non-prime finance lenders, they also learn about the latest generation in finance software. At the Automotive Dealership Institute, you engage in hours of supervised lab time using automotive F&I software. This hands-on experience makes you a seasoned professional as instructors carefully track each student’s progress.

2. Engage Customers

No one likes to be bored. Engage your customers with digital touch technologies, such as big screen TVs and tablets. At the Automotive Dealership Institute, you’ll get to practice with different media, including using video presentations with your customers. Learn how to implement all of these tools, so your customers stay engaged in the sales process. All of these tools help engage customers in the sales process while teaching you how to best meet your customer’s needs.

3. Utilize Talk Track Training

If you don’t know how to manage the flow of conversation with a customer, you won’t make the sale. Consistency and relevancy are key factors in a customer’s buying decision. You need to know your customer’s needs and be consistent with how you can meet those needs. And with talk track training, you can get to practice at every stage through the sales process. You will be equipped with effective ways to handle objections from different angles and even prevent objections before they happen. Talk track training will help you uncover your customer’s needs and enhance your sales ability.

4. Exercise Persistence

Just because you hear the word “no”, doesn’t mean it’s really “no”. Give customers several chances to buy from you. Many financial products and service agreements often require multiple trial closes. And when you persist, you sharpen your sales skills. Be sure to present multiple options in multiple ways. At the Automotive Dealership Institute, you will have plenty of opportunities to engage in mock sales trials in order to hone your overcoming objections skills.

5. Be a People Person with a Good Story

When it comes time to crunch numbers during the purchase of a vehicle, there’s a lot of downtime waiting. This is the perfect time to become a people person with a good story. It’s critical to be able to tell a great story when you’re trying to sell anything. For example, you could use this waiting time to tell your customers how the various services and products you have sold have helped people in the past. This is sure to get an emotional response from your customer. Think about the various stories that you can use and start to tell them to your customers. Your customers will begin to relate to the benefits of your product or service. When it comes to working in the finance and insurance department at a dealership, people skills cannot be underestimated.

6. Be a Good Listener

When you carefully listen to what customers say, you discover what they need, especially in finance and insurance. It’s likely that some people will have some limitations that will affect what they are able to purchase. Sometimes, people aren’t exactly clear, and that’s why it’s very important to really listen to what your customers are saying. Don’t forget about body language either. That way, you’ll be able to pick up on the little things that aren’t being said. Remember, “A picture is worth a thousand words”, and a customer’s body language may as well be a detailed portrait of what they are thinking and feeling.

If you are looking to get the professional training you need to become a top-earning automotive F&I consultant, turn to the F&I Training Programs offered at the Automotive Dealership Institute. This experienced and innovative training institute has trained hundreds of others and can train you, too.

F&I Integration with Sales: Intro

This post is an introduction to a 2 part series.

 

A Finance Department cannot operate alone. To fully realize its income potential, the Finance Department must have an outstanding working relationship with every other department within the dealership. This is accomplished by fostering a professional work environment among all dealership management and support personnel. This, in turn, helps generate sales.  While this cooperation is required dealership-wide, nowhere is it more vital than between the Sales and Finance Departments. In fact, how successfully a dealership’s Sales and Finance Departments internally relate to one another largely determines whether or not the dealership itself will succeed.

 

Interdepartmental Communication

 

Attending sales meetings shows the salespeople that the finance manager is a team player and is open to questions and discussions. This is also a great opportunity to train the salespeople on very crucial matters, such as the proper introduction to finance, how to promote F&I products on the sales floor, and the benefits of all the available services. If they understand what happens in the Finance office and the benefits of the services, they will be more inclined to influence the customer in a positive way toward finance.

 

Management meetings give the dealer a chance to review successes and failures with each department and solve problems. It is important for the finance manager to attend management meetings because it gives the finance manager an opportunity to learn the operations of the other departments and to understand their problems and accomplishments. This perspective often leads to better communication.

 

Ultimately, this cooperation between the Finance and Sales Departments can translate into success for the entire store. When member of Sales and Finance lead by example, their practice of respectful, consistent interaction helps the dealership craft the right “game plan” for the entire dealership.  After all, they’re all players on the same team.

 

Be sure to stay tuned for Part I: Working in Sync with the Sales Department!