The Sales Manager is the F&I Manager's Best FriendJan 03, 2022
The relationship between the sales manager and the finance manager is directly tied to the profitability of the finance department. The sales manager is the architect of the deal, and it is the finance manager’s responsibility to get involved as early as possible to help facilitate the transaction. We sometimes lose sight of the fact that we’re all here to sell cars. Nothing happens for the F&I department if the sales department does not close deals. How can we close more deals with a higher gross profit? The answer is pretty simple: the sales manager and the finance manager must row in the same direction at all times. I realized early on in my retail career that I needed to find ways to make sure that the sales manager and I were always on the same page. Here are a few things that I did every day in my dealership:
1. I was the first one at the dealership and walked the service drive every morning. By doing this, I was able to meet clients that were ready to upgrade. I had a sales professional named Marco that I would feed deals to. He was my house mouse because he took great care of customers and he was the first salesman there every morning. I got to know all of my service techs and writers. Anytime a customer was in service asking about a service contract, they would bring them directly to me.
2. I would work on my CIT immediately following my time in the service department. By having a routine and structure, your CIT schedule should always look good. When you are busy selling cars, there is nothing more annoying than chasing your tail to get deals funded in the afternoon.
3. I sat with the sales managers to see if they needed any help with anything. I would ask if there were any scheduled deliveries that needed prepped or submitted to the bank. I would ask them if they needed any help by sitting at the desk so they could go to lunch or just take a break. I would offer to help with any deal if the salesperson is struggling to move the customer. By offering to serve your sales manager, it does a couple of things.
- You develop a more intimate relationship with your sales manager.
- You gain trust by getting involved early and helping facilitate the transaction.
- You develop likability with your sales managers.
- You will develop a finance-friendly desk.
- You will make the dealership and yourself more money.
4. I would host a 5-10 minute sales meeting with the sales team. I would offer to do manager call backs for them. Most importantly, I let them know how much I appreciated them. All of this goes a long way in the sales department.
At some level, all of these things are self-serving because they help ensure a friendly hand off to the finance department. My experience shows me that if I help other people get what they want, I end up getting what I want.
The Servant Leading Mentality
One of the most influential F&I coaches that I had was a gentleman by the name of Ron Reahard. He would always tell me that I needed to be more urgent to serve than I was to sell. By instilling that mindset into me at a young age, I was able to have a very healthy career in the automotive industry. We must treat every customer like they are a guest in our home. If we do this, you will watch your F&I product sales go through the roof. I believe you can forget every word tract or fancy close in your arsenal. If your customer likes and trusts you, it will be easier for you to be able to handle objections much more effectively. As F&I professionals, we must pay more attention to our customers. Remember that we provide solutions to problems that the customer does not always know to exist.
My LOVE/HATE relationship with Pete
I was very fortunate to work with Pete, who, in my opinion, is the strongest desk guy on the planet. We worked together at a high-volume Nissan store near St. Louis, MO, for over a decade. When I decided to retire from retail in May 2017, I left having had the best month of my career. I delivered 98 deals for $280,000 in F&I gross profit. My VSC pen was over 70% and my ancillary product penetrations were all high. There is no way I would have been able to run these types of numbers if I hadn’t had a very supportive desk. This was not always the case, though. Early on in our careers, Pete and I butted heads for years. We didn’t always see eye-to-eye on many things. We let our egos get in the way, and it cost the dealership money and negatively affected the buying experience for the customer. There were many nights when we left the dealership upset at each other, and it was typically over something that could have been avoided if we had communicated more effectively. Over time, Pete and I learned to slow down and work on our communication. We got on the same page and worked deals together. When a sales professional struggled to close the customer at the payment quoted by Pete, I would go out and take a swing before he penciled in a buy/sell on a lease. Pete and I followed a process on every deal and did not deviate from that process. Pete and I may have never hung out outside the dealership, but in the showroom, we were best friends. Pete and I would always refer to each other as the “Bash Brothers”. He was Mark McGwire and I was Jose Canseco, and we would maximize the gross profit of every single transaction.
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