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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.

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.