Just like most jobs, the position of F&I manager is evolving and changing over time. To be successful in this industry, it is important for prospective and current F&I managers to stay up-to-date on all of the latest developments.
The History of the F&I Department
In the past, there was very little contact between auto finance companies and customers before they came to the dealership to make a purchase. Most research was done from home, and the information and resources available were limited. As a result, customers were required to go in person to the dealership to find out how much they could afford to borrow, what their interest rate would be and other important facts related to financing. Because of this dynamic, the F&I department played a huge and essential role in every financed auto purchase.
The Effects of Technology
Because of the evolution of technology, consumers have access to a lot more information at home than they once did. In fact, a customer planning to purchase an automobile now has the ability to apply for and secure a loan before ever coming to the dealership. As a result of these developments, some industry experts have tried to claim that the F&I department is on its way out. However, this could not be further from the truth.
Even with the emergence of new technologies, the F&I department is still playing an important part in the dealership’s functioning. Although some consumers research loans at home, many customers still prefer to work with a human being when looking for the right financing option. In addition, the F&I department has other responsibilities in addition to financing. For most dealerships, it is the F&I department that brings in much of the company’s revenue through the sale of optional products, such as extended service contracts. Without this revenue, the dealership could not be as profitable.
Adapting to a Changing Landscape
Technology is not the only change in the F&I world. In addition to dealing with this issue, F&I managers are now facing a greater responsibility for compliance with regulations from key government bodies, such as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Federal Trade Commission. Furthermore, to combat burnout among F&I personnel, some dealerships are now instituting altered pay structures that include a combination of salary and commission, as opposed to commission only.
F&I managers need to be prepared to adapt to this changing industry in order to be as successful as possible, both for the sake of themselves and their employers.
To be successful as an F&I manager in a changing world, one must keep the following in mind:
1. Understand the importance of technology.
When working as an F&I manager, you need to be aware of the way technology now impacts your job. Many customers will come into your office with concrete ideas about how much their payment should be based on the math they have already done with their smartphones. When your quotes are not the same, customers are sure to become suspicious.
To maintain rapport with customers, you need to be aware of this issue. Get to know the resources available to your customers, and be prepared to provide an explanation when you know your quotes are not going to match their research.
2. Understand the products and services you promote.
Customers have more knowledge at their fingertips than ever before. If you don’t understand the products and services you are trying to sell, your customers will be able to tell. Become as knowledgeable as possible so you can relate to your customers effectively. If you don’t know the answer to a customer’s question, be honest and do your best to get the information requested as quickly as possible.
3. Know the law.
As an F&I manager, it is your responsibility to maintain compliance with relevant laws. Know the requirements of these laws so you can keep your dealership compliant at all times.
4. Be ready for more changes.
Just as recent changes have impacted the F&I industry, more changes are likely to occur in the future. As an F&I manager, you need to be continuously on the lookout for any changes that will have an effect on your customers and your job. When new technologies appear, be proactive about learning how to use them. Always be ready to adapt and grow.
Preparing for an F&I Career
It is more important than ever before for anyone who wants a career in this field to be properly prepared before beginning his or her first job.
If you are thinking about beginning a career as an F&I manager, the best thing you can do to ensure your success is to get the proper training. As an F&I manager, you will have a range of responsibilities, from helping customers get the financing they need to selling optional products on behalf of your dealership. In order to perform your job properly, you will need the right information and skills.
Automotive Dealership Institute has been the only licensed F&I training school in the nation for the last three decades. Our F&I training program will teach you everything you need to know to be successful in the field. Contact us today to speak with one of our helpful advisors and to learn more about enrolling.