Becoming an F&I Leader W By Carl Grane hat does it take to become an F&I Leader in your dealership versus an F&I Manager? As many of you have participated in a comprehensive F&I training class in your career, I am sure someone has shared with you their interpretation of the “Responsibilities of the F&I Manager”. And, this idea of got me thinking about the role sled dogs play in the Iditarod competition. An excerpt from an article in leadership Iditarod EDU describes a dog team. “There are 4 different positions on a team. The dogs in the front of the team are called Lead dogs and are usually the fastest runners. They set the pace and carefully follow the musher’s commands. Being able to read the trail and make quick decisions because the musher can’t always see what’s ahead, is a must. It’s the lead dogs’ job to avoid danger or stop the team. Most teams have two leaders and they rotate them into the other positions. Some are better on hills while others may be better on ice or crossing rivers. The musher decides which dogs best handle the trail and weather conditions. Behind the leaders are swing dogs which are usually lead dogs in training and lastly, wheel dogs are placed right in front of the sled. Each position is very important for the team. Like with any sports team, all the dogs and the musher must work together to be successful. Becoming an F&I Leader in your organization and achieving elite performance status that we all strive for, I challenge you to think about these 6 responsibilities and their order of priority. 1-Train your Sales Team Industry-wide, we don't do an adequate job in training and preparing our sales teams. What training they do receive is often “not F&I friendly”. To be a leader in your dealership become active in training your sales team. Train them on how to advocate for F&I and the benefits you offer. Hey, the list of training topics you can train on is endless. Personally, getting involved and mentoring sales consultants is a key role of becoming a Leader. 2-Maintain Excellent CSI Today’s customers are well-armed with information from the internet. However, much of their information can be incorrect. Seek to educate your customer-don’t sell them. Inform them of the OEM limited warranties and build value in yourself as a credible professional. Show them the financial exposures of ownership and offer solutions. Handle yourself with professional poise and always show sincere interest in helping them make the right decision that benefits them. 3-Protect the Dealership With a new President in place, we already have a few new “sheriffs” in town starting with a new CFPB head. While compliance may have been put on the back burner the past several years, it’s time to revisit your compliance management system and up your knowledge game. The old excuse of “I didn’t know that…” is no defense. A Leader will train and execute well and with ethics. “Get out of your office and help your team. You cannot lead from behind a curtain. Help the sales manager properly structure the deal from the onset and submit to the proper lending sources. Help them get what they want and they will reciprocate” 4-Improve your Dealership Cash Flow As a former GM, I very much appreciated a positive cash flow. As an F&I manager, you were chosen not only because you were good with clients and generating income, but because of your administrative skills as well. Ensuring your deals are clean, proper signatures and timely funded is vital to your success as a Leader. 5-Secure the Deal This is a basic tenet of our position as an F&I Leader. Get out of your office and help your team. You cannot lead from behind a curtain. Help the sales manager properly structure the deal from the onset and submit to the proper lending sources. Help them get what they want and they will reciprocate. 6-Generate F&I Revenue Wait, are you saying generating revenue and our paychecks are the LAST priority? No, I haven’t lost my mind and yes, generating F&I is your last priority. Because, as a F&I Leader once you have successfully implemented & accomplished priorities 1-5, priority #6 will come much easier to you. Like swing dogs learning the trail, there are many F&I Managers in our industry grappling with problems in a store. However, there a very few F&I Leaders out there. These skilled lead dogs are the top 10% that are students of the industry and challenge the status quo. To become an F&I Leader you must learn the trail and be willing to take a step back in promoting others. Leaders not only lead the team, but they also push others forward. Are you ready? 9 Carl Grane is the National Training Director for Easy Care

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