What Makes an F&I Director
“Congratulations, you are getting a great deal!” says the salesperson to the customer (says the spider to the fly). “All you need to do now is sign the paperwork”. This is usually how our customer / client is introduced to the Finance Manager.
Many survey’s clearly show our customers believe the Finance Manager is the man / lady in the suit behind the desk that works his “magic” to dazzle them with the figures as they bump the monthly payment.
Recently www.edmunds.com had an article titled “Confessions of an Auto Finance Manager”; it was an update from the first article published back in 2008. While the article appears to be right on reviewing some of the practices we have all witnessed in the F&I department, it also gave the impression that the F&I Manager and the Dealership was out to rob the customer. The man / woman in the back office is the closer or heavy hitter that will work the “magic”. I do not believe in it and I believe the days of pack payments, playing with the information on credit applications and playing the shell game is gone.
In today’s market, we all know that the only way to stay in business is to work with the customer / client. To provide honest information and answer their questions while providing options. The F&I Managers play a very important role in all of this. It is the F&I Manager that has the duty and responsibility to review the numbers of the purchase, review the information that will be used to complete the documents and inform the customer / client on all the warranties/services offered by the factory and dealership.
When we say the F&I Manager is the ultimate closer, what we mean is that this individual has the ability, talent, and knowledge to confirm the information, complete all the paperwork, protect the interest of the customer / client and the dealership. This person has to do all of this as well as handle any fears or concerns the customer / client might have. For the privilege of doing all of this compliance, the F&I Manager are given a very slight opportunity to promote the services of the department and to make a decent profit for the dealership.
The truth is preparing contracts and arranging financing is a job for a financial expert. With reduced profit margins, the F&I department is indeed, a “stand alone profit center” designed to provide several F&I related products and services for a slight profit. This concept benefits the customer / client as well as the dealership. Without this department many of our customers /clients could never receive the “discounted deals” they enjoy so much when selecting a car or truck. The F&I Manager is an important part of the entire process and holding this position requires a great deal of knowledge, talent, and ability.
The F&I Manager and F&I Director in our industry today are true professionals! They are a student of the industry, they are aware of all the latest trends in the financial community as well as in the automotive industry. This individual works the longest hours in the store, has nerves of steel and the ability (actually the love) to work in a high stress environment. But the rewards are great! For a proven F&I Manager, they are rewarded with one of the highest paying jobs in the dealership. That is why only your brightest and most proactive individuals should ever be in that office.
As we view the importance of the F&I Department, we also need to review the talent we currently have.