The ‘Why’ of the F&I Department: Helping and Protecting Customers

If you are looking for a new career, one of the best options available is finance and insurance management. F&I managers are responsible for making sure an auto dealership’s F&I department functions properly. But what is the purpose of the F&I department? At the most basic level, the F&I department exists to help and protect customers. 

What Is the F&I Department?

The F&I department is the department within the auto dealership that is responsible for helping consumers get the financing they need to purchase the vehicle they have chosen. This department also offers extra products available for purchase from the dealership. Examples of products that are often sold by the F&I department include:

  • Credit insurance/payment protection
  • Gap insurance
  • Maintenance plans
  • Extended service contracts
  • Anti-theft products, such as car alarms
  • Paint or fabric protection
  • Excessive wear and use protection

For most dealerships, these products make up a significant portion of profits. However, these products are also beneficial to consumers. 

How the F&I Department Helps and Protects Customers

The F&I Department helps and protects customers in several different ways. Some examples include:

1. Providing consumers with valuable products. 

Anti-theft devices, paint protection and some of the other products available from the F&I department can enhance the customer’s purchase and provide valuable protections. By investing in these products at the time the vehicle is purchased, customers can avoid expensive repairs or other unwanted situations that may have occurred down the road. 

2. Counseling consumers on the products they need most. 

In many cases, consumers may not know what products are available from the dealership and how they could be beneficial. Professionals in the F&I department can help consumers review the options available and decide which of these products will be best for their needs. 

3. Helping consumers through the financing process. 

Financing a new vehicle can be confusing for consumers, especially for those who don’t have a lot of experience with credit and loans. Professionals in the F&I department can help consumers understand the financing process and choose the loan option that will meet their needs most effectively. They can also help the consumer understand how their credit report affects the interest rate and other important aspects of the loan. 

4. Guiding consumers through paperwork. 

A significant amount of paperwork must be filled out and submitted before a vehicle purchase is complete. The sheer amount of paperwork can be overwhelming for customers. In many cases, the questions asked are complicated and confusing as well. Fortunately, the professionals working in the F&I department understand all the relevant documents and requirements, so they can guide customers through each stage of this process and put their minds at ease when necessary. 

5. Protecting consumers from bad credit deals. 

Not all consumers will seek financing within the auto dealership. Although some external sources of financing are reputable, others may not be. When consumers trust the F&I department to handle vehicle financing, they can be confident that they are receiving a safe, reliable loan from a reputable lender. 

How the F&I Department Serves the Dealership

The F&I department is an essential component of a functioning auto dealership. Although many auto dealerships may focus on the F&I department’s ability to boost profits, this is not the department’s only purpose. As discussed above, the F&I department also offers help and protection to every customer who purchases a vehicle from the dealership. Being aware of all functions of the F&I department can help auto dealerships to leverage this department more effectively.

Specifically, when the F&I department is able to provide a better quality of services to consumers and build solid relationships from the start, consumers are more likely to invest in the products and services that boost the dealership’s bottom line. For this reason, it is important for auto dealerships to staff their F&I departments with trained professionals who know how to build rapport with customers and promote extra products with ease. 

The Importance of F&I Training

Professionals working in the F&I department need a large base of knowledge and a variety of skills in order to do their jobs effectively. The best way to gain the necessary knowledge and skills is by completing an appropriate training program, such as the one at Automotive Dealership Institute.

ADI has been the only licensed finance and insurance school in the United States for more than three decades. At our institution, students spend four weeks learning all the information they need to succeed as F&I managers. Our students also spend time developing their skills by engaging in “practice” deals that simulate the work they will do after graduation. In addition to providing our students with a comprehensive education, we also offer job placement services to every student who completes our in-classroom program. Please contact us today to learn more or to get started on application and enrollment.