When it comes to finding a lucrative, exciting field to join for a new career, the F&I industry offers something for everyone. Trained, successful professionals in the field can see a salary over $100,000 on average. Those who work in the field also get to employ a variety of skills and techniques in their jobs. Combining a love of numbers, computers, cars, and sales strategies, the professionals in this field have the chance to pursue their passions. Those who work in the industry know that no two days are exactly alike when working in the finance department of a car dealership.
The excitement of the field also means that those considering beginning this type of career want to carefully consider where they get their education. Those entering the F&I career path need to have a variety of skills and background knowledge before they can serve their car dealerships well. Car dealerships rely on the deals and loans organized by the F&I professional to help the dealership make money while also making their customers happy. The importance of the position means that those preparing to enter a training program will want to think carefully about what F&I educational program will work best for them.
A quick Google search will likely turn up a few different options, leaving prospective students wondering how they should evaluate their options and determine the best educational experience for them. Here are 5 criteria that we think all prospective F&I students should consider when selecting the institution that will give them the best education and the best shot at having a highly successful career in F&I.
Where are the classrooms located and how is the training conducted?
The F&I industry, as already mentioned, requires a lot of background knowledge. Professionals must understand a considerable amount when it comes to the loan industry and banking. They must know how to interpret a credit score report as well as how to construct loans that will appeal to the customer while also generating revenue for the dealership.
Additionally, professionals in this field must also consider their sales strategies. They will need to work together with the sales teams to promote products to customers, including helping them understand why particular deals, packages, and upgrades will benefit them. This involves a keen understanding of what customers want to see.
Students should look for a school that offers real classrooms and an opportunity to learn. Online classes or weekend seminars simply do not have the time or capacity to give students a thorough understanding of the field. Students will instead only receive a brief overview of the different important aspects of the industry. There will be few to no opportunities to actually work with F&I software to learn how to construct real deals. Experienced teaching staff who have worked in the field will be inaccessible. The knowledge imparted through a program like this will be minimal.
On the other hand, a reputable school like the Automotive Dealership Institute offers an intensive 4-week course taught in an actual classroom. At their fully-equipped campus in Scottsdale, Arizona, instruction comes from dedicated teachers who have a successful track record of helping countless other students learn the material and then find jobs in the field. Students have opportunities to work with the actual software they will use when they land their first F&I job. The rigorous exams they take throughout the program also ensure that they are able to retain and demonstrate the knowledge they gain as they go.
Students can be confident that when they finish their course at the Automotive Dealership Institute, they are well-prepared for the job.
What do past students say?
One of the best ways to evaluate the abilities of a particular school to adequately train F&I professionals is by looking at what past students say about the organization. A good school should have student assessments and reviews easily accessible. Prospective students should look to hear both from recent or current students as well as those who have attended in the past.
Do not only look at what these students say about the quality of the lectures or lessons. Students should also see if any of these students have actually gotten jobs in the industry and how they perform in those roles.
The Automotive Dealership Institute can offer prospective students countless testimonials about their program and the career success that their students have gone on to experience. With a job placement rate of over 90%, this school can also clearly demonstrate how the professionals here work to match students up with employers. The high job placement rate also indicates that car dealerships like to hire graduates from the Automotive Dealership Institute — they know they can trust the education the student received.
Does the school have any independent sources of content?
A school that students trust to educate them for an upcoming field should be able to demonstrate their credentials. They should have the knowledge and insight on the field that would lead to their publishing their own unique content.
A school that does not have any of its own copy-written material, particularly one that only uses public information or even training materials from other agencies, does not demonstrate that they can adequately prepare students to succeed.
The Automotive Dealership Institute, however, has literally ‘written the book’ when it comes to Auto Finance. Automotive Dealership Institute has even had their published materials included in the Library of Congress. In fact, many of the smaller F&I “schools” out there simply pull bits and pieces from ADI’s published materials.
Is the school listed and registered in each state’s Bureau for Private Post-secondary Education?
Each state tracks the schools and institutions that offer training or education for students. This system helps to protect students from unscrupulous institutions that try to trick students into paying them for education, but then offer very little substantial learning in return.
For a school to be listed with each state, it must prove to the state that it offers a quality level of education. The bureaus will look at factors such as the standards put forth by the institution and how the school handles complaints.
The Automotive Dealership Institute is registered with Arizona’s Bureau. In the 32 years that this school has worked to educate students in the F&I field, they have received excellent status with these bureaus.
How does job placement work following the completion of the course?
Completing the course is only the first step in this process. Students must also be able to find jobs in the field. They want to be able to put their education to use in this growing, exciting world of F&I.
Finding a job following the completion of a degree or certification is always a stressful process. There are many resumes to write and review as well as interviews to attend. Students often need guidance to successfully navigate these steps, particularly when it is their first time looking for employment in their new field.
However, remember that car dealerships count on these professionals to help them generate income for their dealership. They will, therefore, care tremendously about the training and expertise level of the professionals they hire to work in their finance department.
An F&I school that feels confident in the education they give and their ability to prepare students for their new jobs will also help them with the steps to find a job.
Therefore, students will want to see if the school offers any type of job placement assistance. Consider the type of help offered by the school. Compare that to the assistance you think you will need when you do complete your program and prepare to head out into the field.
If they do offer job placement assistance, look at their success rate. How many students are they able to secure jobs for following graduation and where are these jobs found? This will provide valuable information about the level of trust car dealerships have in the school and the level of investment the school has in the students they teach.
At the Automotive Dealership Institute, students have access to a highly supportive faculty ready to help them reach their goals. The school has placed students in dealerships across the country. They often have professionals in the industry come back to speak to students about work in the field. The students getting ready to apply for jobs, therefore, feel completely prepared to take those next steps.
When it comes to applying for jobs themselves, students can also turn to the helpful staff for help with their resume and guidance with interviews. This will help them get noticed during the application process and help them secure that desired job. This thorough process has led to this school boasting a consistent job placement rate of over 90 percent.
When it comes to finding a lucrative career path, entering the F&I industry can be a great place for people to get started. Taking the time to carefully evaluate possible school options can help students make the best possible decision and the wisest investment in their future. Consider the above criteria when making the decision for you.