Corporate finance director and serial entrepreneur Adam Marburger knows how to knock out finance and insurance sales. Marburger raised the F&I per-vehicle revenue on new vehicles at Suntrup Automotive Group in St. Louis more than $300 from November 2017 to March 2018. In May 2017, his final month as an F&I manager at AutoCenters Nissan in Wood River, Ill., he delivered 98 new and used units that pulled $278,000 in back-end revenue.When Marburger isn’t coaching F&I managers, he can usually be found inside a boxing ring. Marburger got a taste of combat from a kickboxing class he took in high school, and for the more than two decades since, Marburger has been an active mixed martial artist. In 2009, Marburger tried his hand at Brazilian jiu-jitsu. For the next eight years, he would be in an estimated 300 fights, competing nationwide thanks to a Fuji Sports sponsorship. His automotive career began at Dave Mungenast Alton Toyota in Alton, Ill.
At 18, Marburger worked as a porter, considering himself an errand boy with friends in every department. A year later, he was promoted to the sales department. He left the dealership in 2001 to follow an opportunity at AutoCenters Nissan, where he spent the bulk of his automotive retail career. He had just started training in mixed martial arts. For the next few years, Marburger worked in sales and competed in MMA tournaments on the side. By the time he got into cage fighting in 2005, he was an F&I manager, and frequently showed up to the dealership with black eyes. In his office, it helped to talk about fight club.”My customers had no problem with it,” Marburger said, noting that signed memorabilia from Brazilian MMA fighter Royce Gracie in the F&I office became a conversation piece. “It was actually a huge selling point for me because customers were interested.”Outside of the dealership, Marburger would step into a cage with no protection other than small gloves, prepared to fight until he got a knockout or submission. The art of negotiation in an F&I office, he says, requires a similar grasp of sparring. “It’s about taking turns and drilling things over and over. We role play, so when there’s time for an objection, we’ve heard this before. It’s about repetition,” he said. “That’s what builds the muscle memory and that’s what gets the deal.”
At his dealerships, Marburger used the structure, organization and discipline he learned on the mat to build a regimented program for the F&I office and sales floor.Through defined processes and procedures, Marburger says, he can get even the least experienced seller to an F&I black belt in six weeks. His “zero to hero” training has converted about 50 novice F&I managers in the St. Louis area into product-selling machines. “Thank God for martial arts. It’s allowed me to stay calm; we get some customers that aren’t so easy to deal with,” he said. “Being able to stay calm and stay focused when things don’t go your way. You’ve got to take a deep breath. Let’s slow down to speed up.”Slowing down isn’t something that comes naturally to Marburger. With a partner, Marburger started an F&I training company and product provider, The Income Development Guys, last year. The Income Development Guys is one of a vast constellation of business endeavors Marburger launched while working in dealerships. He also started an apparel line, real estate company, an investment group, and he opened a martial arts gym in Alton.