The leadership and interpersonal skills that an F&I professional displays will have a quantifiable impact on how many customers are willing to finance their cars with the dealership and purchase additional coverage and add-ons. If you want to thrive in this industry, therefore, you should focus on cultivating these skill sets to help you better engage not only with your customers, but also with the rest of your team. Here are the top 5 F&I manager skills to focus on building to propel your F&I career.
As the leader of the F&I team, you need to take responsibility for the results of your team. A good leader will look for ways to help their team members continue to rise above potential obstacles and find a way to thrive. Good leaders understand that potential problems, such as caps from the bank, will always be there. Instead, they continue to exceed expectations by finding ways to overcome them.
Along the same lines, do not become complacent with the results your team sees. Even if your team obtains pretty positive results, as the leader, constantly look for ways to take your performance to the next stage. Work with the rest of your team to find areas to improve so that you continue to excel.
Focusing on honesty
Honestly is an important trait of anyone working in F & I. When customers feel as though they can trust you, they become more inclined to listen to what you propose. They will be more open to the different options you present, and thus they become more likely to finance their car or get coverage from you.
This honesty needs to also apply to other members of your team. You should feel confident that your team behaves with absolute integrity. If you do not feel that you can trust someone on your team, they should not be there.
Similarly, you also want to communicate honestly with your own team. Establish a strong rapport with them that helps you provide quality, helpful feedback. Let them know that you are on their side and that you just want to help them maximize their potential on the job.
Empathy and understanding for customers
Putting yourself in the position of other people is a powerful means to improve communication. Customers feel understood and that you truly want to help them. It also helps you understand their likely objections and hesitations, guiding you to create packages that truly meet their needs.
You want your customers to feel as though they are being presented with options. You do not want them to feel as though you are just trying to make a sale. Let your empathy come through in how you speak with your customers and present them with their sales options.
Always look for ways to improve your process
You should always be looking for ways to improve your sales processes. A strong sales process can help you build good habits and make it easier to see success. Look closely at each stage of the buying cycle. This includes examining what the sales team does and how they prepare a customer to send to you. Work together with the entire team to identify the weakest points in the chain as well as a means to improve them.
Ask team members for their opinions and impressions, but also look at the rates of leads to sales and how many of them finance with the dealership. See where the breakdowns occur.
As a leader, you should remain focused on your goals and dedicated to delivering results. Regularly auditing your sales process this way and finding weak points that you can improve will strengthen your ability to pull in new customers.
Improve your communication
Communication plays a vital role in the sales process. Communication not only impacts how well you interact with your team, but also with your customers. You want to make sure that as people speak, you actively listen to what they have to say. Using the other skills mentioned, such as honesty and empathy, you will find it easier to offer them meaningful advice and feedback.
Within your team, poor communication can lead to breakdowns between the sales, finance department, and management. Working together to outline clear expectations and creating policies of transparency between the members of the team can help to eliminate blunders.
If problems do emerge due to poor communication, take time to identify the source of the problem. Outline a plan to eliminate this potential cause of poor communication so that this problem does not occur in the future again.
In the F&I departments of car dealerships, strong leadership can lead the rest of the team to see tremendous success. Understanding how to nurture these traits will make it easier for you to reach new heights in the industry. Focus on improving these 5 F&I manager skills and you will see a clear difference in your ability to manage your team and see the results you want.
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