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F&I Manager vs. Sales Manager Careers: Which is Best for You?

Both the sales manager and F&I manager play critical roles at any car dealership. If you’re looking for ways to climb the ranks in your sales career, you may be considering which path to take. This guide covers the duties and responsibilities for each position so that you can decide which one is right for you.

What Does a Sales Manager Do?

The sales manager has the most influence on the sale of vehicles off the dealer’s lot. When sales representatives are struggling to close a deal, it’s the sales manager that steps in and has the authority to offer discounts and services that would sweeten the deal. Sales managers hire, train and manage sales staff and set their schedules to ensure that there is floor coverage when it’s needed the most.

A sales manager also prices the vehicles in inventory, determining the most attractive prices while providing the most return on investment possible for the dealer. To be a sales manager, you need to have very strong sales and organizational skills. Sales managers do a lot behind the scenes that customers and sales representatives may not realize or appreciate.

The following skills are needed to be an effective sales manager:

Ability to Relate to People

Sales managers need to have empathy toward other people so they can determine the best way to help customers. The purchase of a car is a major decision for most people and often requires taking on a car payment that lasts for years into the future. Customers can be stressed over their purchases and whether it’s the right time for them to close the deal.

Sales managers need to be understanding and relatable so that customers feel their concerns are valid. This creates trust. People are much more likely to make major purchases when they trust someone.

Strong Negotiation Skills

Sales managers are constantly challenged to find the middle ground between what benefits the dealership and what makes the customer happy. Because sales managers need to know how to close sales with the most difficult customers, they need excellent negotiation skills. They need to show customers the value they’re about to receive from their purchase and be able to know when to give ground.

Verbal and Written Communication Skills

Sales managers need to be able to get their point across clearly when interacting with sales representatives, other department managers and customers. They need to be able to produce documents without errors, listen to the concerns of customers and motivate sales representatives to achieve their goals.

Promotional Skills

Sales managers are behind the events and sales that draw customers into the dealership. They need the ability to manage an advertising budget effectively and deliver a return on marketing investments. Customers have many dealerships to choose from when shopping for a car and it’s the role of the sales manager to make his dealership stand out in the crowd.

What Does an F&I Manager Do?

The role of an F&I manager begins after a sale is already closed. F&I stands for finance and insurance. The focus of an F&I manager is to work with banks to secure loans for customers and then to provide insurance products such as warranties to add value to the deal. Some would argue that the F&I manager is the most important person in the building, because all sales reach their desk before the customer leaves in a new car.

The following skills are needed to be an effective F&I manager:

Strong Communication Skills

The F&I manager is often behind the scenes negotiating with lenders to determine the monthly payment a sales representative or sales manager brings to the customer. What seems as simple as delivering a number is much more complicated than you realize. Dealerships work with many lenders and the finance department needs to find a financing option that fits in the affordable range for the customer.

F&I managers need strong written and verbal communication skills to be able to negotiate with banks and then explain the terms of a loan to the customer. This begins with running a credit check and then submitting the correct forms to financial institutions to get approval offers. Some creditors might have special terms behind their offers, so the F&I manager needs to communicate those terms clearly.

Strong Sales Skills

Many customers reach the finance department after a stressful negotiation over the price or payment for a vehicle. The F&I manager then tries to add warranties and service packages to the deal. This can be a delicate situation that requires excellent sales skills to manage because any product you add to the deal also adds to the payment.

Time Management Skills

F&I managers often work on multiple deals simultaneously. Sales representatives are bringing in potential deals and details about the customers’ desires. The F&I manager needs excellent organizational skills and has to be able to manage their time effectively. No one likes to wait in line for the finance office to free up and it’s stressful for sales representatives and customers who want to complete their business and move on.

Training in Finance Operations

While there’s no formal educational requirement to become an F&I manager, many dealerships would prefer that their F&I managers have some degree of training in finance. The dealership may send someone to a training seminar or workshop to develop the needed skills to perform the job or could provide on-the-job training. It’s most ideal for F&I managers to receive both forms of training and to attend seminars regularly afterward to continuously learn and improve their skills.

Which Position Pays More?

It can be difficult to determine for sure what you can expect to make as a sales manager or F&I manager. Income varies depending on where you live and how well you perform your job. On average, a car sales manager can make around $134,625 per year. F&I managers are in greater demand, resulting in greater pay increases over the last five years.

Compared with five years ago, the average pay for sales managers has risen 5.4% while F&I managers make 7% more now than five years ago. Today, they make more than $142,000 per year on average. Both careers are lucrative enough to consider pursuing and what’s right for you depends on your skillset and what you feel most comfortable doing.

Learn More About Sales and F&I Training at the Automotive Dealership Institute

Whether you’re pursuing a role as a sales manager or finance and insurance manager, the Automotive Dealership Institute can help. Our programs last four weeks and provide you with all the skills you need to succeed in your desired role. Call 877-592-6313 to learn more.

Finance Manager Training for Automotive Dealerships: Why Dealerships Send Their Managers to ADI

Ask any dealership owner what the most challenging aspect of running their operation is, and they’ll start talking about their finance department. Our finance departments are made up of complicated paperwork and legal technicalities, but they’re also one of our biggest opportunities for sales. This is why finance manager training is so important.

At ADI, we strive to empower your managers to become masters of automotive finance. After completing our program, they will not only be wizards with all of that complicated paperwork, they’ll also be your new secret sales weapon.

Here’s what every dealership owner needs to know about finance manager training at ADI.

Starting at the Top: Improving Your Bottom Line

We’re starting with what’s on everyone’s mind. It can be challenging to make a living operating an automotive dealership. There’s a lot of moving pieces in this financial puzzle. However, there’s one area of dealerships that we consistently see owners and managers overlooking.

Dealerships often treat their finance department as a technicality. This is where paperwork gets shuffled around and nothing else. However, that’s a misconception that could be costing you money.

Your finance department is one of your strongest assets when it comes to improving your sales. Your sales staff out of the dealership floor have the challenging job of making the initial sale, but it’s the finance department in the back that closes the deal.

Giving your managers and expertise of automotive finances is going to allow them to become your strongest resources when it comes to sales. With this training, they can shore up one of the areas where you’ll be able to make considerable improvements in your profits.

Get Your Managers Trained Quickly Online

Automotive dealerships are currently faced with plenty of challenges regarding mobility restrictions and physical training.

We’ve adapted our entire program to change with our times. We now offer a full online course. The managers at your dealership will be able to enroll in and complete our course without having to travel outside of their homes.

Completing their training online also prepares them for an increasingly digital world of automotive sales. As the technical aspects of finance, and the business of car sales itself, increasingly moves into the digital space this training gives them an extra edge against the competition.

Fill in Gaps in Your Staffing

We’ve seen countless dealerships reconcile the financial duties to under trained staff. This is more than a staffing issue, it’s one of the biggest limitations to your ability to turn a profit.

The role of the finance manager is something that can’t be replaced in any automotive dealership. Car financing has gotten much more complicated in recent years. It’s no longer viable to just place all of these additional duties on to your regular managers. Your dealership needs specialized training to ensure that every transaction goes off without a hitch.

Closing the deal is the most vital part of car sales. You want to make sure that the staff that are locking in that final transaction are at peak performance.

Empower Your Team to Improve Sales

The finance manager training at ADI gets rave reviews. Managers that have graduated from our program might have been able to grow their careers as well as improve sales at the dealerships they work at. One of the biggest benefits of this training is the empowerment that your staff will gain.

Finance manager training allows your managers to become well-versed in some of the most technically complicated aspects of automotive sales. After completing our training, they will never have to worry about answering a customer’s technical finance question correctly ever again. This gives them the knowledge they need to encourage sales without any interruption.

It also improves their confidence. We’ve seen countless students of our program graduate with a newfound zeal and energy for sales.

There’s nothing quite like the confidence one earns after completing a new challenge in their education.

ADI’s Track Record Aims Toward Success

At ADI, we’ve proven our track record for success. Our satisfied students have been able to advance their careers as well as push the envelope for automotive sales forward. We’re helping to create a new standard for what customers expect when they visit their local dealership.

Our success is your success.

The more students that we train to become finance managers, the more experienced car sales staff will be working dealerships throughout the country. This will help customers not only find the cars that they want, but also speak with qualified representatives who are able to walk them through all the technical, financial details of a sale.

This is a holistic approach to service that puts the customer first. Now they’re getting everything they need in one location rather than being shuffled around through departments and individuals.

Location, Location, Location

This is one of the oldest pieces of wisdom in any industry or business. Your location is one of the most key aspects and what you’re able to offer the community around you. That’s why we’ve situated our training center in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Everyone in the Scottsdale area knows that the bread and butter of this community is automotive sales. Car and truck sales drive the local economy and have for generations. What better place to train your managers on vehicle finance?

When you send your managers to our physical location, they’ll be able to get first-hand training in one of the vehicle sale hotbeds of the country. It’s this kind of first-hand experience that makes for an unbeatable education.

Education Built on Cutting-Edge Technology

Your dealership managers are going to be trained in a cutting-edge facility. We distill this information through the latest technical standards for automotive finance.

All of this education is backed by our use of the most cutting-edge educational technology out there.

We replicate the finance department of a modern car and truck dealership. This is complete with customer credit reports, new and used vehicle inventories, as well as fully functioning workstations. Our students also use real databases that have them pulling up records and completing sales that are identical to the real thing.

It’ll be like they’re back home and doing real transactions at their dealerships.

Discover Your Potential Today

It’s time you gave me your managers the tools they need to succeed. Get in touch with us today to learn more about enrolling your dealership managers into our financial manager training.

How to Become an F&I Manager in 2021

You can make good money working as a finance and insurance manager. In fact, it’s one of the best-paid positions in any automotive dealership. With the right skills, you can generate more profit for your dealership with a generous salary to compensate you for your hard work. The newest F&I software allows finance and insurance managers to perform better, even with less experience. Today’s finance and insurance platforms help F&I managers stay organized and do their jobs more effectively.

How Do I Become an F&I Manager in 2021?

Working as a salesperson at an automotive dealership is an excellent first step. After building a positive sales record, you will find it easier to apply for a position as a finance and insurance manager. However, you need to be familiar with this aspect of the dealership industry. First and foremost, always treat customers with respect and maintain a professional attitude while you keep learning. Earning a degree in finance or accounting can help you get the job you want, but seeking certification as a finance and insurance manager ensures you have the specific knowledge and skills you need, so you stand out from the other applicants.

At the Automotive Dealership Institute, you can earn your certification both in our classroom and online. We organized our curriculum into four modules that cover various topics like federal laws relating to finance and insurance in the automotive industry, dealership retail operating systems, finance software, structuring special finance deals, finance menu presentation, and menu selling. The online training allows you to pause modules and work at your own pace. We also offer telephone support for online learners. Each section of our curriculum includes interactive features with printable books, real-life examples, voice overs, and graphics. Individuals qualify for the program with a high school diploma or GED. Good math and writing skills are also essential. Financing options and student loans are available. Regardless of whether you complete the program online or in person, you will qualify for job placement assistance throughout the country. We boast a 90 percent job placement rate within 90 days of graduation and will help you find the job of your dreams as soon as possible after graduation. The Automotive Dealership Institute F&I manager certification qualifies for VA educational benefits. Individuals who qualify for Post 9/11 veteran’s benefits can get full tuition coverage and travel expenses related to the program.

How Much Can I Make?

As of 2021, the average salary for F&I managers is around $133,000 with a range between $60,000 and $150,000 per year. The payment range varies by location. The average salary for F&I managers is about four percent higher than other managers in various departments at automotive dealerships, making it an appealing managerial position. Most F&I managers can expect to work 50 hours per week with varied schedules. Although car sales slowed down during the pandemic, they are picking up once again as the economy recovers.

What Do Finance and Insurance Managers Do?

The primary role of finance and insurance managers is to help customers secure the financing they need for a new or used car. They work directly with lenders to help customers get the best interest rates while looking out for the dealership’s profits. F&I managers are held to a high ethical standard. Some of their duties include:

  • Providing financing options while explaining dealership service procedures, aftermarket products, and extended service contracts.
  • Processing financing and leasing deals while using various channels to secure approval.
  • Working with the sales department to create direct referral programs.
  • Understanding and following local, stated and federal laws governing the automotive industry.
  • Providing training and motivation for the sales team with information on available leasing and financing programs.
  • Supporting the sales team.
  • Increasing profits.

In short, successful F&I managers require product knowledge, empathy, and professionalism to handle customers appropriately. F&I managers need excellent people skills, along with financial knowledge and skills.

What After Products Do F&I Managers Sell?

F&I managers often sell extended service contracts and maintenance plans, along with other products. These plans could include a bundle of oil changes and only apply to the dealership’s service center. Finance managers may also promote anti-theft products, such as VIN etching, car alarms, and GPS locators. Combo warranties may include damage to wheels and tires, offering protection against damage caused by potholes. Paint and fabric protection applies a chemical sealant to the paint and fabric to protect them long-term. You may also offer gap insurance to pay off the difference between the car’s value and the amount the customer still owes on the loan if the car is totaled in an accident. For leases, customers can benefit from excess wear and tear protection in case the car is damaged beyond normal wear and tear. Finally, credit insurance plans can help customers continue paying for their vehicles if they lose their job or suffer from a disability and can’t work.

How Are F&I Managers Doing Today?

F&I managers enjoy a stable career with minimal risks. While most finance and insurance managers work 40 hours per week, some may be scheduled to work up to 50 hours. Overtime may be required, particularly when expedited document processing is required. F&I managers have plenty of room for growth with a high salary cap, providing a stable income for years to come. It also opens the door to working in other financial sectors in the future. With the car industry rapidly growing, there’s an excellent opportunity to find the career you want with a high living wage.

The Future for Finance and Insurance Managers

The future is bright for those interested in working as an F&I manager. Car dealerships now offer low interest rates and easy credit approval, making buying a new or used car attractive for buyers. Finance and insurance managers make a high salary with excellent benefits, including retirement plans, health and dental insurance plans, and more. If you’re thinking about a career in finance and insurance, The Automotive Dealership Institute offers the F&I training you need to get a step ahead and launch your new career. Give us a call at 1-877-998-7200 to get more information. You can also visit the F&I training overview page on our website. We are a certified institution that serves with integrity and the qualifications you need. After completing your training at The Automotive Dealership Institute, you’ll get the complete training you need to start your lucrative career in automotive finance and insurance.

Best Auto Industry Careers for Military Veterans

If you enjoy working with your hands and exploring complex machinery, a position in the automotive industry makes plenty of sense. For military veterans looking to continue their career after their time in service, the automotive industry offers a compelling framework from within which to thrive. Steady job availability with a high average income for starting positions paves the way for military veterans to transition onto a new career path with relative ease. With that being said, what automotive positions make the most sense for our U.S. veterans?

Let’s highlight four positions that offer compelling pay, steady hours, and the opportunity for growth within an exciting sector.

Auto Parts Manager

The automotive field runs on parts and customers can’t safely take to the road without them. An auto parts manager presides over the intake and corresponding outflow of parts on a daily basis. A parts manager tracks inventory, pursues the best parts for customer jobs, and balances price against the quality of components along the way. When done properly, the auto parts manager is a vital cog in the machine that keeps an automotive store running.

Other Tasks Tackled By An Auto Parts Manager

  • Maintain & Manage Inventory – Parts managers are tasked with spending money on items and ensuring that the inventory is always primed with product. Inventory that sits on the shelf won’t make money, so that means a parts manager needs to be on top of the ball and ready to research for the right purchases.
  • Pricing For Estimates – Before you can sell an automotive part, you have to give your client a price. Parts managers are tasked with utilizing a blend of intuition and industry research to give clients their most accurate estimates possible.
  • Work With Vendors – More than just a client-facing individual, parts managers will also interface directly with vendors on issues pertaining to warranties, broken stock, and exchanged items.

As the automotive industry continues to grow by leaps and bounds into the future, auto parts managers will always have a position in the space. A growing field, military vets looking to transition into a steady job with great hours and promising growth now know where to look.

Automotive F&I Manager

Selecting the right career path is one of the most important decisions that we will ever make in life. Transitioning from a career in service to life in the private sector can be made easier with a job in Automotive F&I. Automotive Finance & Insurance positions are integral to the car purchasing process and, as such, will always be required.

What Does an Automotive F&I Specialist Do?

When an individual opts to purchase a vehicle from a dealership, they will work directly with someone in the F&I department. This individual is trained and educated to provide clients with finance and lease options, and offer optional products including extended service contracts, credit insurance, and guaranteed asset protection. Ultimately, F&I specialists guide clients to the products and services that best suit their needs.

Reasons to Consider a Career in Auto F&I.

  • Not Traditional Sales – In a conventional sales career, you might be expected to make cold calls to pursue clients. This is not so in the F&I industry. Auto F&I specialists will engage directly with interested clients who are ready to sign on the dotted line to make a purchase. They just need your help to get the most for their money.
  • Flexible Scheduling – Dealerships work around the clock to cater to the needs of their clients. Military vets looking for a position that will allow flexible scheduling will appreciate the scheduling available for this position. Auto F&I careers tend to offer valuable work-life balancing.
  • Improved Earning Potential – Some auto dealerships will pay their F&I employees at a base rate, promising a living wage regardless of performance. Other dealerships will pay F&I employees more when they make sales or help clients to find better services to cover their needs. With no cap on sales, earnings can be improved upon through hard work and diligence.
  • A Growing Path Forward – Last but not least, a career in the F&I Management opens doors for potential positions down the line. A career in finance and insurance can quickly provide upward mobility to a Finance Director, Desk Manager, General Sales Manager or General Manager. When put together, a resume with F&I Management experience can help any employee get the most for their efforts at work.

Auto Body Repair Technician

In a post-COVID world, very few sectors are poised for promising growth in the short term. This isn’t the case for the automotive industry as the U.S. Bureau of Labor notes that job growth will increase in the coming years. Auto body repair technicians make up a huge subset of this coming job growth.

An auto mechanic is tasked with a range of duties, so let’s briefly touch on a few of them.

  • Diagnosing Vehicles – Military veterans that want to translate their expertise with automotive vehicles will feel right at home in the garage. Diagnosing and fixing issues pertaining to motor vehicles will be the throughline of this position. Being able to solve complex problems while navigating intricate machinery is a necessity. Military veterans with a background in leadership will fit right in!
  • Connect With Clients – More than just the person with the wrench, auto body repair technicians must be able to discuss problems and explore solutions with clients. They must be able to answer and ask questions to guide the repair process forward. A sociable auto body repair technician can go a long way!
  • Working With Parts – In some instances, auto body repair technicians will be tasked with ordering and managing the inflow of complex automotive parts. The ability to read, research, and retain knowledge in this specialized niche is of the utmost necessity.

Contact the Auto Dealer Institute!

Located in sunny Scottsdale, AZ, the Automotive Dealership Institute presides over the Scottsdale Hilton Resort and Villas. Designed by architect Carl Schaeffer, the Automotive Dealership Institute focuses on curating an environment of learning with comfort and luxury in mind.

Reasons to consider signing up for F&I Training at ADI Include

  • 90% Job Placement – More than 90% of students find job placement as an F&I Manager within 90 days of graduation. Military veterans looking to transition straight into a meaningful, fast-paced career will find one! ADI works with military veterans to place them in F&I positions throughout the country.
  • Elevated Annual Pay – The average income for a qualified F&I Manager in 2021 was $142,855 according to the National Automobile Dealers Association. With room for growth and promising industry trends, salary growth is likely.
  • Post 9/11® Veterans – Post 9/11® veterans can apply for and receive full tuition plus an allowance for travel and housing. ADI has had a tremendous level of success finding positions for veterans who successfully complete the program.
  • Industry Poised For Growth – Finally, the U.S. Retail Auto Industry is staged for continued growth in the coming years.

More than a comfortable place to explore the world of F&I, the Automotive Dealership Institute is the only licensed and government-approved F&I school to accept Post 9/11 GI Bill® benefits. Veterans interested in pursuing a career in auto F&I can reach out directly to the VA Liaison at Automotive Dealership Institute, today!

How Auto Dealerships Can Look to the F&I Department to Increase Profits

Once the buyer has taken a look at cars, completed their test drives, and finally made a decision, they’re off to the F&I department. But the Finance & Insurance department is hardly just a formality; it’s actually a critical part of the profit process. Many auto dealerships make the majority of their money in Finance & Insurance.

The Basics of F&I

F&I departments have an interesting role. By the time the buyer gets to the F&I department, they generally already have a price for the vehicle set. They also may have their own financing lined up or may even be trying to pay in cash. F&I departments usually make money in a few ways:

  • Upselling on products that are attached to the vehicle, including additional warranties, coverage, insurance, and features.
  • Convincing buyers who are financing through another entity to move financing over to them.
  • Finding financing for under-qualified or traditionally non-qualified buyers.

So, the F&I department does a lot of heavy lifting for the auto dealership. If a buyer walks in, negotiates, then decides to pay in cash, the dealership could make almost no money at all, depending on how aggressively priced the vehicles are.

But that also means that a lot of the financial incentive for the auto dealership is locked beyond negotiations and inside of the F&I department — making it a necessity for the F&I department to optimize and improve its strategies.

Knowing Where to Look

Realistically, the F&I department only has a certain amount of time and energy. This is where the Pareto principle is followed; 80 percent of all results come from 20 percent. In F&I, a fraction of sales are going to be “whales” and the rest of the sales are going to be fairly meager. More and more, customers are well-versed in their options and walk in the door knowing what they want — and they won’t be upsold, even if the products you’re selling are beneficial to them.

This applies to products, too; 80 percent of your sales will come from 20 percent of your products. When possible, your F&I department should be learning more about the products, options, bonuses, and other offers that are open to your customer base.

Bigger, flashier vehicles with higher tags on them tend to represent the most opportunity when it comes to the F&I department. Often, the F&I department will want to focus on bigger sales. But the inverse is also true; under-qualified and non-traditionally qualified borrowers may also be able to net the F&I department significant profits simply through margins. While there is substantial risk, there are under-served borrowers who may not have traditional income or may have unique credit situations.

At the same time…

Follow the 300% Rule

While you do need to focus your energy, you should still follow the 300 percent rule. That means you show 100 percent of your products to 100 percent of your customers 100 percent of the time. You never know when someone will buy. The 300 percent rule is a proven one; it greatly improves on the customer buy-in.

Customers get a lot of information before they ever hit the dealership. They can get information such as “always upgrade the warranty on your vehicle, but never get the care package” or “always get the care package, but never bother with the warranty.” You never know where your customers are coming from or what will be a harder sell, so it’s important to meet them where they are.

But that’s a lot to track. With dozens of products and packages to sell for every vehicle, customers can find it difficult to process. That’s where technology comes in.

Using Technology to Your Advantage

Today, there are comprehensive auto dealership sales platforms that can take a sale and quickly run down through the products that the customer is most likely to want and to buy. These platforms can be used on tablets and computers to show the customer their options and their price points. When the customer can easily see how much their car payments will go down, for instance, with a longer term, they are more likely to buy in.

Most customers have a fairly clear picture of what they want their financing to look like, but in terms that they understand. They don’t know what $20,000 or $30,000 could mean in the course of years upon years, but they do know that they can only afford $450 a month. By using technology, you can get closer to what your customers want without having to calculate and re-calculate things on-the-fly.

Follow Up Later On

Customers frequently have regrets after a major purchase. But sometimes that regret works in a dealerships favor. What many F&I departments don’t do is follow up with customers later. A dealership is going to hear from a customer who is regretting their car or financing choice and has decided to try to turn the car back in. But a dealership may not hear from a customer who wants to extend their warranty.

If you call customers back after a few days or weeks and make them an offer, it’s very possible that more than a few will bite. Many people find that they underestimated their spending out of fear or that they would really feel more comfortable or have more assurances if they added something on to the vehicle. You can even follow up with those who left to pursue other avenues of financing, by offering them financing once again.

The F&I department is really the heart and soul of auto dealership revenue. There’s only so much negotiating that can be done today in the era of the internet. Most vehicles today really have an objective pricing that people can look up online, and dealerships who pride themselves on their reputation don’t want people feeling pressed to pay more.

The F&I department offers the ability to increase income while providing a laundry list of services, products, and options that the customer may truly need.  But to really capture that income, departments need to be setup to funnel customers through as effectively as possible. Often, that requires the right technology.

ADI and F&I

The Automotive Dealership Institute has been training F&I managers for over 32 years. We provide classes in person as well as online. Our online courses make it easy to learn at your own schedule without needing to attend a school. If you are looking to take the next step in your career, learn more by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 877-998-7200.

Priceless Lessons to F&I Success

While everyone defines success differently, all successful people have certain things in common. They have a constant drive to better themselves, to provide value to a team, and to set attainable goals for themselves. F&I managers are tasked with helping an automotive dealership maximize profits and helping their team members flourish.

Whether you are a seasoned veteran or new to the F&I space, there are some key lessons you can always consider when you are striving to improve your performance. Having the humility to recognize your imperfections is the first step to overcoming them. Think about what you can take away from the following principles and how you can apply them to your sales strategies moving forward.

Listen Actively to Your Customers

There is a difference between listening to what a person says and understanding the meaning behind it. If you are not aware of what your customers truly want or need, you will not be able to satisfy their demands. Active listening involves letting the other person know how you’ve interpreted their words so that they can clarify their needs if you’ve not understood them.

Use statements such as “what you told me earlier” or “I understand that you” when you are communicating. You can then connect the dots between their needs and certain products that you may be able to offer them that fill those needs. Also, try to understand what may be holding a customer back. Is it that the customer cannot afford the product or that he or she doesn’t understand the value?

Make sure also that you are talking with your customers rather than at them. The most successful approach is to let them do most of the talking and simply to confirm with them that you understand. Open-ended questions accomplish this goal because it puts the conversation back in their hands and presents you with more opportunities to determine if you have a product that suits their needs.

Do Not Oversell

One of the stereotypes that you need to get past is that of the overly pushy salesman. Many customers will arrive with their guards up, determined not to spend a single dollar more than they deem necessary. The perfect way to make them even more uncomfortable is to push a product that they did not express interest in.

This is where active listening can assist you, but you also need to recognize an opportunity when it presents itself. Making assumptions is another thing that hurts F&I managers. Do not be afraid to ask for the close if you have listened to the customer and successfully conveyed the value of your product.

Befriend Your Customers

People are more likely to purchase things from people that they trust. While you are talking with them, do not focus solely on the sale. Doing so can make you seem cold and robotic. When your customer reveals something that he and she may have in common with you, take that opportunity to build rapport.

Don’t be afraid to crack a joke. If you are likable, your customer will begin to see you as more than an F&I manager behind your desk. The more you can get your customers to smile and laugh, the more you will find that the close comes more easily and without the tension that normally accompanies automotive sales closings.

Use Visual Aids

Not everyone processes information the same way. While some people can understand when you give a verbal rebuttal to an objection, others need to see examples. Instead of explaining the math, you can find a way to show the person instead, such as explaining the cost of vehicle repairs by putting a recent work order from the service department on your desk for them to read.

Visualization is a powerful tool. From the beginning of an automotive sale until the end, it can be effective in making a customer feel as though something belongs to them. They take test drives so that they can visualize driving the car to or from work or parked in their garages. If you show them the possible downfall of not having warranty coverage via that bill, they will understand what they are risking. That may be what it takes to turn a “no” into a “yes.”

Review Your Work

Take some time every day to review every one of the deals that you worked on. Even if it went smoothly, there was something you could have done to improve it. Investing this time will help prevent you from falling into the same routine with every single customer. When this happens, you can come across as monotone, disinterested, and insincere.

Did you tailor your approach to the customer and properly access his or her needs? What could you have said differently? What opportunities did you miss? Making yourself aware of all these things will allow you to brainstorm ways that you can tackle the next day more effectively.

This step is especially important if you have found yourself in a slump. Every F&I manager will experience droughts. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with what you are saying or doing, but as frustration builds, you may begin to do things differently. If you are aware of these mistakes, you can correct your course.

Continue Your Training

Successful F&I managers are humble enough to know that there is always something to learn. If you are finding yourself in a long-term slump or just want to continue to become better at your job, you should consider ways to add tools to your skillset. Bouncing ideas off of others who are in the field can help you while also improving their performance— providing a benefit to each party.

You can also take classes to hone and improve your skills. Sometimes, the information you learn will shake off some of the rust that has gathered since you last attended a training course. In other cases, you may learn something that completely transforms your business and makes all the difference for you.

The Automotive Dealership Institute has been training F&I managers for over 32 years. We provide classes in person as well as online. Our online courses make it easy to learn at your own schedule without needing to attend a school. If you are looking to take the next step in your career, learn more by filling out our online contact form or giving us a call at 877-998-7200.

10 Tips to Being a Successful F&I Manager

Successful F&I managers know that they can always make improvements and constantly look for ways to become more efficient and effective. They know that every failure is an opportunity to learn how to succeed and they will learn from every interaction they have with a customer. The most successful F&I managers have a lot in common with each other, and these tips will help you step up your game and become the best manager possible.

Have Fun at Work

People feel much more comfortable interacting with you if you are in a good mood. They will be more compelled to trust you and agree with you if you can make them laugh and find common ground. If you are bored, stressed, or frustrated, this will come through in your body language and facial expressions. Find ways to make your work fun not only for you, but for your customers, and you will notice the difference in your closing rate.

Recognize the Talent Around You

It is easy for pride to take hold when you meet a problem or challenge that is beyond your skills or knowledge. What can really help you is to utilize the talent that you have on your team and lean on other peoples’ strengths. Do not be afraid to take advice from other people or to look at a situation from someone else’s vantage point. One of your team members could present a ground-breaking idea that will transform your way of doing business in the future.

Help Others Succeed in Their Roles

When representatives are at odds with one another, it can have a negative impact on sales in general. If your sales representatives do not have the tools needed to generate leads and sales, you will have fewer opportunities for yourself. Lending a hand to other people on your team and showing those people that you want them to succeed will ultimately generate good karma for you over the long haul. Remember that if you help someone else make sales, it will generate sales for you as well.

Strive to Improve Regardless of Your Success

Successful F&I managers know that they can always do better, and they hold themselves accountable. Even when they had an easy close, they look over the paperwork at the end and run through the encounter in their mind to determine if there was something they could have done differently. Since no F&I manager has a 100% close rate, every single manager can improve. The effective ones know this and place a priority on personal development and learning.

Stay Positive Even When Times are Tough

If you are too aggressive with a customer, that person will feel the desperation in your tone and words. Some F&I managers may find themselves in a rut and then try to climb out of it by trying too hard with the customers they have. Successful F&I managers know that they will encounter slow sales periods, and they recognize that coming booms will right the ship for them. As long as you do not panic and simply remain positive and calm, the sales will follow.

Focus Less on Yourself

As stated above, the success of others will contribute to your own. If you ignore the needs of others on your team and always place your own success ahead of theirs, it will bring down morale. If you do not make a point of helping your sales representatives, they will leave you for greener pastures. You need to recognize the value of your team and place other people ahead of you to guarantee you will have a steady flow of opportunities for everyone.

Customers are keen to detect a greedy F&I manager as well. If you are focused on what you have to gain from each sale rather than sending the customer home happy, it will be noticed. This can result in lost sales, negative reviews, and fewer opportunities in the future if those customers tell their friends and families about a poor experience with your store.

Take Care of Your Office Staff

Accounting is an under-appreciated department at an automotive dealership. However, the people who work in accounting are also very crucial to your own success. Going the extra mile with them to make them feel appreciated will pay dividends. Making sure to be thankful is a good step, but consider ways to make their lives easier. Giving them rewards for good work, buying them lunch, and finding ways to recognize their achievements will make their lives easier, making yours easier in return.

Be Proud of What You Do

Innovations in technology and increased competition have transformed the automotive industry. Regardless of the opinions people have about car sales, things have changed over the last decade. Many of those changes have benefited employees and the customers that you serve. Promoting what you do is important to your success, so find ways to interact with the community.

Determine What You are Working For

Everyone has something that drives them. Successful F&I managers know that they are working for something. It could be that you want to provide a stable and secure life for your family, that you want to be able to afford to see the world, or that you have a charitable cause you want to get behind. Know what it is that you want to achieve and set goals for yourself so that you are driven to succeed.

Don’t Treat Working as Just a Job

You go to work every day with the same purpose in mind, but you shouldn’t just be working for the sake of work. F&I should be more than work and should be something that you enjoy doing. Dedicate yourself to what it is that you do for your team and customers, and you will find that your drive to be good at what you do alone is fueling improvements in your performance.

Want to Become an F&I Manager? Learn More About Our Training Program

People come to the Automotive Dealership Institute from all walks of life. It doesn’t matter whether you have any experience in the auto industry or not. As long as you have a good attitude, work well with people, and a drive to learn and improve, you can be a successful F&I manager. Fill out our online contact form or give us a call today at 877-998-7200 to learn more about our training program.

What Are the Roles and Responsibilities of an Automotive F&I Manager?

F&I stands for finance and insurance in the automotive industry. F&I managers usually work in a dealership’s F&I department (also sometimes referred to as a business office). It is through the F&I department that vehicle loans along with any optional financial or insurance add-ons are marketed to the dealership’s customers. Keep reading to learn more about the role of a dealership’s F&I department and the roles that an F&I manager plays in the dealership’s success.

How Important Is the F&I Department?

Without an F&I department or F&I manager, many auto lots and dealerships wouldn’t be successful. Just because someone agrees to buy a vehicle doesn’t necessarily mean they can pay the full asking price before driving the car off the lot. Because of this, and to protect the dealership’s best interest while also increasing incoming revenue, many auto lots offer financing resources; this financing often comes through third parties, such as banks and auto loan lenders. When dealerships connect customers with these banks and loan lenders, it becomes much more likely for a completed sale to take place. Ultimately, by offering F&I services, the dealership’s best interest is protected thanks to banks and auto lenders covering the cost of a purchased vehicle while still taking on the risk of not receiving the loan paid in full by the loan holder.

The success of most automotive dealerships depends on the F&I department and its managers. 

As the automotive dealership industry continues to evolve, so has the role of F&I managers. The sole responsibility of the F&I manager is to protect a dealer from financial harm when selling new or used inventory. To ensure this goal is met, the F&I manager must establish a vast network of financial resources that the dealership can tap into to help customers buy the vehicles they want. The F&I manager does much more than help secure financing resources for the dealer. He or she also leverages tactics to sell optional protective options to customers as a way to establish additional income streams for the dealer.

What Do Dealers Look for in F&I Managers?

It requires a vast knowledgebase of various roles to succeed in the primary role of an F&I manager. Many dealers require F&I managers to have at least two years of experience in automotive sales along with certification from an F&I training program. Most dealers also mandate F&I managers to have significant experience in managerial roles; however, some dealers do prefer filling F&I positions with someone who has no prior managerial experience but is ready to accept such a role. Two of the most pertinent skills needed for an F&I manager to be successful are clear communication and advanced organizational capabilities.

What Is the Most Important Skill Needed By an F&I Manager?

Dealers don’t want to hire F&I managers that they can’t trust. This is why honesty and integrity are cornerstones of the value of F&I managers. The tasks that F&I managers perform to be incredibly extensive and particularly demanding. With the overall purpose being to protect the dealership, including its owners, from any legal issues, the role of the F&I manager becomes all the more important. To do this, F&I managers must always make sure that the customers and financial entities they work with are really who they claim to be.

If an F&I cannot clearly communicate with customers in such a way that they understand each and every detail of the contracts they sign with the dealer or financing agency, then a dealer will likely lose out on sales as well as face a higher risk of financial loss.

Regular Job Duties of an F&I Manager

Most F&I managers spend their time performing multiple tasks throughout the workday. Much time is typically spend providing thorough explanations to customers regarding the protection programs offered by the dealer (these programs are usually offered through vehicle service contracts). There’s also a lot of time explaining to customers what the APR and any finance charges will be if the customer qualifies for a loan. Very crucial to the manager’s role is the discussion of any disclosures that exist in the contract being signed by the dealer and customer and any involved financial entities.

When not interacting with customers, F&I managers spend their time building and maintaining relationships with various lending institutions and insurance vendors. These managers also take on the responsibility of creating and providing training to the sales team regarding the available lease and finance programs that can be mentioned when selling to a customer.

Also performed by the F&I manager is the task of making sure each and every sale is processed accurately. This requires F&I managers to study and stay up to date on the latest technology and security practices used when processing a deal.

How to Become an F&I Manager?

To become an F&I manager, a person can greatly benefit from going to college and earning a business degree. However, many dealerships don’t necessarily require a formal degree. Instead, they want to see managerial experience and impeccable interpersonal and communication skills in the F&I managers they choose to hire. Because F&I managers have to interact with numerous parties on any given workday, they must exhibit superior and first-class customer service at all times. The dealer’s reputation is often determined by the role of the F&I manager. After all, it’s this manager who interacts with every party involved in a sale.

Do Dealers Train Their F&I Managers?

Ideally, dealerships should hire F&I managers with prior experience in the automotive dealership industry, but no experience isn’t always required. In fact, a lot of dealers prefer to hire F&I managers who have no prior experience. Why? Because this allows them to train the F&I managers according to the dealer’s unique and precise needs.

If you’re thinking about becoming an F&I manager, makes sure to check out the various degree and certification programs available. The more experience you have in F&I, the better as this allows you to expand your ability to offer dealers and customers the best service and options possible, which is a win-win for everyone.

 

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The Benefits of Distance Learning For F & I Training in 2021

The entire world is learning to adjust to the global COVID-19 pandemic that began in early 2020. Many businesses and schools are shuttered and been moved online. Thanks to the advent of the Internet, many of us are still able to participate in learning and the workforce from the comfort of our own homes. We surely couldn’t have done this in the 90s. Shelter-in-place hasn’t been easy as we don’t have access to what we did before the pandemic. We miss dining out, going to concerts, having parties, and traveling, for example.

No one was prepared for the pandemic, and as a result, we have had to take some time to adjust to this “new normal”. At the Automotive Dealership Institute, we pride ourselves on not missing a beat. We’re still educating car salesmen all over the United States through our online program. We believe there are enormous benefits to online learning and for that reason, we’ve taken the time to compile a list of these benefits. Read on to learn more.

Flexibility: Learn Where and When You Want

No matter where you are, as long as you have an Internet connection, you can participate in online learning. This is fantastic because we live in a world that is constantly changing. Whether you like to wake up at the crack of dawn or stay up until the wee hours of the night, you set your own schedule and your own dress code. Participate in learning from the comfort of your own home, or when things reopen, go to a café or library to engage in learning. We’re sure you’ll really want to get out of the house as soon as you can!

Save Time: No More Commuting

The time it takes to commute to a training institute is better spent doing other things, like distance learning from home. You save an enormous amount of time by bypassing a brick and mortar institute for an online program that you can do at your convenience. No more commuting, parking, walking to the institute or stopping for gas on the way home. You set your own schedule, too, so there’s no rushing around like a maniac trying to make it to class on time. Online learning gives you more time and freedom to create a schedule that works for you, tweaking it as necessary. This is something you can’t do with in-person learning.

Gain More Retention: It’s a Fact

It’s proven that online learning provides more retention than a boring in-person lecture. Online learning is often filled with fun ways to prove a point, using videos, real-life scenarios, and more. Gaming is often a big component of eLearning, which makes learning fun and motivating. What’s more is when you’re tired and feel you’re not retaining anymore, you can stop and take a break or wait until the following day to resume.

Be Social: This is the Time

During shelter-in-place, people are finding creative ways to be social. An online learning community provides just that. Many of the curriculum developers for our F&I Training course provide ways for you to connect with other learners. This makes eLearning that much more fun and engaging. During this incredibly challenging time, many of us face insecurities, economically and socially. Isolation isn’t good for anyone and many of us are experiencing this at this time. To overcome feelings of isolation, it’s a good idea to socialize with others, even if it’s only online. This human contact can drastically improve a person’s mental outlook concerning the fallout from the pandemic, namely the lockdown.

Learn on the Go: It Couldn’t Be Easier

When you engage in eLearning, you can learn on the go. Listen to audio recordings in the car, prop up your mobile phone and listen to a lesson as you bake a cake, or relax on the couch with a new lesson instead of watching television. If you’re thinking you’re not great at multitasking, don’t worry, you’ll get the hang of learning on the go the more you do it. Practice makes perfect, as they say, and eLearning is something new you’ll have to adjust to if you’ve never done it before now.

Get Ahead of the Game

Right now, there isn’t much to do. We’re restricted in most cases when it comes to dining, entertainment, and traveling. Why not use this time to hit the ground running and get ahead of the game with an online F&I Training course in 2021, especially if you’re out of work or just looking for a new position. With this training course on your resume, you’re sure to impress the hiring manager and get offered a position or even a promotion.

Cost-Effective

Brick and mortar institutes of learning are simply more expensive than online schools. It costs a lot of money to run a campus and that cost is passed down to the students. Not only that, but print textbooks also cost a small fortune. Take these away and you are saving money by opting for eLearning over in-person learning since everything is done online. In some cases, such as at universities, there is a mixture of print and online learning materials, however, our course is done 100% online so there is no added cost for textbooks. Overall, the tuition for an online course is far cheaper than an in-person training program.

The pandemic will eventually end, and we’ll return to a new kind of normal. What will the world look like regarding this new normal? Masks, social distancing, and working from home may become our new norms. One thing is for certain, we can use this time to our advantage by enrolling in an F&I Training course with the Automotive Dealership Institute and reap all the benefits online learning provides. In fact, eLearning is now more popular than ever due to the pandemic, and users are starting to see all of its benefits as they continue to learn and grow.

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Make Your F&I Department Customer-Friendly

If you ask anyone what their least favorite part of buying a new or used car is, it’s dealing with the financing and insurance process that comes along with buying a vehicle.  Many people are concerned with feeling pressured into something the don’t want or feeling like they have to make a fast decision. The good news is there are things you can do to eliminate some of that frustration and provide your customers with a friendlier experience. When you take the time to give your customers the best experience possible, chances are they will return to you when they need another vehicle and they may even recommend you to their family and friends in search of a vehicle. The following tips will help you make your automotive finance and insurance department more customer-friendly.

Get Rid of the Papers

The last thing your customers want to do after shopping for a vehicle is to sit down and go through a huge stack of papers. This process often makes individuals feel like they’re signing their life away, which can lead to frustration and even irritation, making the process more stressful for everyone involved. One of the best things you can do for your customers is to transition to a digital system, allowing your customers to view all of the necessary paperwork through an Internet-enabled device and signing digitally to save time. In fact, you can even complete credit checks through secure digital apps.

Not only will you be able to save your customers the time and energy of going through tedious paperwork, but you’ll be doing your part to save the environment. It’s also easier to create a digital filing system so you can find any paperwork easily at a future date. This greatly streamlines the F&I process, allowing you to focus more on providing your customers with the high level of service they deserve.

However, this doesn’t mean you should get rid of all the paperwork. Keeping brochures around allows your customers to learn more about the vehicle they are buying, as well as services your dealership offers while they wait for the results of their financing application. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.

Have a Conversation with Your Customers

The biggest mistake dealerships often make with their customers is going straight for the sales pitch. The last thing your customers want is to feel like you’re trying to hard sell them on products and services they feel they don’t need. Buying a vehicle is expensive as it is, the last thing people want to do is spend more money than they were planning by the time they leave the dealership. Many dealership push extended warranties, window tinting, VIN laser etching and more, leading customers to feel as if they are just a bank account to their customers.

The best way to combat this feeling with your customers is to start a genuine conversation with them. Instead of throwing a bunch of services and numbers at them, talk about the benefits of the various services and add-ons you have to offer and how it can help them in the long run. Let them ask questions and avoid making them feel like you’re using pressure tactics or that they have to buy these things. When provided with valid information about the add-ons and letting them know why they may want to consider it will allow them to process that information and make an informed decision for themselves.When you give your customers the time to process the information, they can ask any questions they may have and prioritize what they can afford to add on to the purchase price of their vehicle.

Train Your Staff

The most important part of making your F&I department more friendly for your customers is training your employees on the best way to handle customers and make them feel as if their input matters. While a dealership can offer this training to their employees on-site, the best way to handle it is to find a school that offers the professional training your F&I employees require. The Automotive Dealership Institute, for instance, is one of the only schools that offers a program like this, providing your employees with the reliable training they need to provide the best customer service experience to keep your customers coming back to you.

Without the proper training, your F&I staff could miss essential selling points, as well as important parts of the process that can leave your customers missing out. F&I training teaches your employees how to use a digital format, they will have a full menu in front of them so they can easily go through the process step by step to ensure nothing is overlooked in the process. Customers will enjoy a higher quality of service and feel confident you took all the steps necessary to complete the sale seamlessly.

Providing your customers with a seamless, stress-free and low-pressure sales process will help them feel confident when they buy a vehicle from you. Not only will they enjoy a better car-buying experience, but they’ll be far more likely to return to your dealership for service and when they’re ready to buy another vehicle. On top of that, it’s more likely they will recommend your dealership to their family and friends because of their positive experience.

If you’re looking for the best place to train your employees in the automotive F&I department, the Automotive Dealership Institute is your best option. We are proud to offer convenient courses that allow individuals to learn the best ways to serve your customers, including the use of digital technology to make the sales process go as smoothly as possible. After all, the faster you are able to get your customers on the road with their new vehicle, the happier they will be. Contact us today to talk about our course offerings and put your team on the fast track to success.