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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

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 optional add-ons including extended warranties, 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 field opens up doors for potential positions down the line. A career in finance and insurance can quickly expand to a job in management. When put together, a resume with F&I and 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 ex-military graduates 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 Vets – Post-9/11 vets 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 its ex-military graduates.
  • 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.

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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.

image of f&i manager with customer

3 Ways to Be a Better F&I Manager

There are steps you can take to separate yourself from the herd as an F&I manager. It’s really just a thin line between being average and being top-notch. And it all comes down to the process you incorporate on a daily basis. Topnotch F&I managers that rise to the top follow a proven formula that results in a collectively big difference. As the economy continues to struggle from the pandemic, customers will start to scrutinize purchases and think twice before buying.  This makes it critical for F&I managers to hone their skills in order to create more revenue for a dealership. Here’ 3 smart steps to take to become the best F&I manager for your dealership.

Get the Best Professional Training

Think about it. The best professional athletes train with the best coaches. Ivy league universities employ brilliant professors to teach at their schools. Following that line, F&I managers should train with a world-class F&I training program. It primes you for the real world. Our world-class training programs have years of automotive experience. The best F&I training is the most important decision that an aspiring and current F&I manager can make for their whole career. Training will help you be the best F&I manager and Automotive Dealership Institute is here to help!

Follow a Formula

You’re only as good as the procedure in your playbook. And you’ve got to follow the given procedure. A proven and repeatable formula will lead to success. If you don’t follow the procedure, you’ll wind up with a different result. It’s just like a recipe for a dish. Change some of the ingredients, and you’ll get a different dish. Often, it won’t taste that as good, and it’s just mediocre. The formula to follow is straightforward. A professional environment plus a proper explanation of benefits plus unbiased information equals a profit in the finance office. Don’t deviate from the formula, and you’ll yield good results.

Unbiased information is all about how the customer feels about your selling methods. Are you selling them or informing them? A proper explanation of benefits centers on the features and benefits of what you’re selling. Are you more focused on the features than the benefits for the customer? A benefit is how the product affects the customer. It’s benefits that sell not the features. People want to know what a product can do for them.

Keep it Professional and Positive

Maintain a Professional Environment and get rid of all the sales gimmicks. Ditch them all. The atmosphere of your dealership shouldn’t resemble that of a timeshare sale. The formula to use is unbiased information, proper explanation of benefits and a professional atmosphere.

Keep it positive. Both negativity and positivity are contagious. You’ll definitely want to go with positivity. Research has shown that happiness spreads like a virus. Infect your customers with happiness. Even if you’ve been down from a stroke of some bad luck, keep it positive with both colleagues and customers. Speak positive thoughts, uplift your coworkers and even take the sales team out for a good lunch. All of these actions will positively affect those around you. It will also affect you in your attitude.

So, how do you become the very best F&I manager? Get professional training to hone your craft, follow the proven formula and be a positive voice at work. Others will certainly notice the vibe.

 

F&I Manager Helping Car Sales during Covid

How Can F&I Help Support Successful Contactless Transactions?

Today, it’s more important than ever to help your customers feel safe when interacting with your business. That’s why contactless payments are rapidly growing in popularity. In fact, if you don’t offer this option to your customers, it could actually lead them to choose another company that does. This is important for all types of businesses, particularly automobile dealerships. Although many customers don’t necessarily pay via a credit or debit card, giving them the option of contactless payment is essential. The field of automotive finance and insurance is unique, but contactless payment options can still be a valuable asset. The following will show you how your finance and insurance department can make contactless transactions a successful commodity.

A Decline in Sales

Since the Covid-19 pandemic ground the economy practically to a halt, the automotive industry has seen a dramatic decline in automotive sales. There are many reasons for this, including the unwillingness of individuals to go out to interact with others, as well as job loss and other economic factors that made it difficult for individuals to even think about buying a new car. While 24 states allowed their dealerships to remain open, it created many challenges to try to keep the business afloat. About 23 states allow online or remote sales options, which have had a positive impact on car sales, but this is still only about half of the country. While contactless transactions may not be the wave of the future for the automotive industry, it’s evident they will be around for at least the near future as the country struggles to get the pandemic under control while maintaining the economy. Therefore, it’s a necessity for automotive dealerships to at least consider the option to give them a boost in their sales.

According to IHS Markit, the projected sales of cars around the world for 2020 is projected to be down 22 percent, selling just 70.3 million units in comparison to other years. They have projected car sales in the United States will fall overall to 26.6 percent, or about 12.5 million vehicles sold for the year. This is the lowest number since the previous market crash in 2010 where sales fell to just 11.6 million vehicles.

This Is Where F&I Can Step in with Contactless Transactions

One of the backbones of the automotive sales industry is the finance and insurance departments. These parts of a dealership ensure car buyers can get behind the wheel of the car they want for an affordable monthly price and they have the insurance needed to stay legal on the road. This is also where cash needs to change hands, which is why it’s essential for car dealerships to look into options for contactless payments. While many other industries entered the online marketplace years ago, car dealerships have had limited interactions with their customers through their websites. Auto dealership websites were typically places individuals could look at a dealer’s stock and decide which cars they were interested in before visiting the dealership. They still had to go in for a test drive and to file the paperwork for the required financing and insurance. This all needs to change given the current state of affairs in the country.

At the dealership, the main goal has always been to match car buyers with a vehicle that meets their needs and their budget. However, dealerships also have a reputation of hard selling or even upselling, which has sometimes left a bad taste in consumers’ mouths. The use of online sales can actually help overcome these perceptions, even if they didn’t apply to your dealership, even before the pandemic. Providing online access to calculators and financing options allows your buyers to not only find the vehicle they want to take home through your website, but also to complete many of the other necessary steps to complete the purchase. They can still be presented with all of the options, such as extended warranties, service contracts and more, all without the pressure they may feel if they’re sitting in the F&I office face-to-face with your professionals. It allows them to feel more in control. While they always could turn down these offer, it’s often more difficult to do so when you’re sitting in an office with a person.

With as many as 87% of car buyers feeling pressured at the car dealership, being able to offer these options online can be a valuable asset and can turn around this perception. This can turn into even more sales than you previously achieved, which will help give your auto dealership a much needed boost in a time when many industries are struggling to stay afloat and keep the economy running in a positive direction. Consumers won’t have to make an on-the-sport decision. They can research their options and take the time to select the ones they feel will be the most beneficial to not only their needs, but their budget as well. They will be much more likely to complete the sale when they feel more in control of the decision-making process.

Completing the Transaction Away from the Dealership

Another area where your finance and insurance department can truly shine is on the closing of the sale. How can you possibly complete a transaction like a car sale without in-person contact? While it’s true the consumer must still pick up the car or it needs to be delivered to their location, there are a lot of things your auto dealership can do to make this process fast and easy for your customers. With the ability to sign document digitally, consumers can now complete all of the paperwork they need to transfer ownership, register the vehicle, sign up for insurance and qualify for financing without having to leave their homes. Everything can be done through electronic forms with e-signatures that hold up legally just as well as signing a regular sheet of paper. Your staff will be able to review documents with consumers through an Internet connection and complete everything necessary to sign off on the sale without ever making physical contact with the buyer. However, you will need to take the time to set up a reliable, robust digital system to make it happen. Once that’s in place, the transaction process will become that much easier for everyone involved.

Even though this new normal is driven by the Covid-19 pandemic, the implications and benefits of moving to a digital platform for contactless transactions can have long-term effects on your business. Even when things return to a semblance of the old normal, you will still be able to offer these options to make the car buying process less stressful and smoother for your customers, which can go a long way toward giving your auto dealership the boost it needs to be successful going into the future. Your F&I employees will continue to have options to work at home as needed and consumers will be able to purchase their next car without the stress of dealing with a salesperson in person. Even after people are more willing to head out and interact with others, it’s a valuable option many people will continue to use and rely on. Not only will it help set customers at ease and help them feel more in control of their car buying decisions, but it will also help build a new level of trust in your car dealership that will last a lifetime.

Times have changed and it’s important for all industries, particularly car dealerships, to embrace those changes and ensure consumers have their needs met in a way that’s convenient and safe for them. Contactless transactions are an important part of this process. Whether individuals are simply wary of the effects of the pandemic or they never felt comfortable sitting in the F&I office at a dealership to complete the car-buying process, everyone will gain the benefits of contactless transactions and a smoother way of buying their next new vehicle.