One doesn’t happen without the other. In the F&I office, there are no second chances. If a client passes on products and services, the chances are virtually nil that they will ever change their mind. On top of that, future F&I office transactions are unlikely, simply because the client was able to go without them once. With a ‘make it or break it’ mentality, the F&I office has just once chance to earn the sale today. However, today’s successes or failures with the client impact future business just as much. That’s why continuous training and professional development – sharpening skills – is just as important as today’s performance.
When the right tool for the job is available, the project is sure to experience a higher success rate. Constant learning provides the tools to succeed. Research the F&I menu products that are offered to discover their benefits and key points. When client's ask questions about the product, be able to answer them without requiring time to research. It's a small but important choice to constantly have the mindset of the need to keep learning and discovering. Have a book on the go all the time, whether it’s business-focused or motivational. Stimulating reading from like-minded and inspiring people contributes to a positive mindset. Join online groups and forums with peers where they discuss new challenges, products, and solutions.
Fill the toolbox with resources from authoritative sources. Be armed with credible, tangible information that proves the benefit of the product when the client’s answer is ‘no.' Whether it’s a photograph or a report, the client can physically acknowledge the advantage of your offerings.
Just as important as a full toolbox is the ability to use the tools successfully. That happens through repetition between professionals. F&I managers should practice the complete client experience with a peer who can honestly and fairly analyze the process. Constructive criticism and pointers effectively allow the staff member to adjust their approach. Roleplaying as both the staff member and customer has a positive effect on the F&I manager. It's paramount to understand the client’s mentality. Also, learn to listen actively, allowing the client to speak the majority of the time when it’s possible.
After the role-playing experience, have a debriefing session. Discuss the items that went well and opportunities for improvement. After weekly or monthly practice sessions, there will be fewer points that need attention. Without a doubt, roleplaying skills carry into the client interaction.
Monitor the results from the F&I office. Developmental exercises are sure to take the results, both penetration, and profits, to the next level.