What is a Business Manager, Finance Manager or F&I Manager????
by: Jeremiah Shelton
I get the privilege of meeting many new F&I Manager’s every month. I meet some of these hard-working people in current accounts I work with, in new accounts, or one of our training classes or seminars. The funny thing is all of them have the same title but none of them perform the job the same way.
Most F&I Managers were great Auto Sales Professionals but, were never properly trained to sell insurance or how to manage the F&I Department. Most just get “thrown into the box” and have no idea what they are really doing. They are forced to rely on the instincts that got them there in the first place. Those that are lucky enough to get any training are usually trained by the current Manager (who is leaving for another job) or another Manager who hasn’t been properly trained either. Fewer still may get training from their product provider or their Factory representative and typically this training is primarily product knowledge and how to print a menu. The top 1% or what I call “F&I Professionals” are fortunate enough to have been surrounded by people who inspired them to become great leaders. There are 6 types of F&I Managers and you can decide who you want to be.
Type 1 – “The Paperwork Person”
Having clean paperwork and a clean CIT list is one of MANY critical responsibilities of F&I. Unfortunately, I have seen paperwork become an excuse and shield for subpar F&I results. Type 1 Paperwork People are rarely found outside the walls of their office and prefer the sales force review menus prior to a customer signing paperwork. Type 1 Paperwork People are not F&I Manager’s, they are Paperwork Manager’s. Type 1 Paperwork People will be replaced by technology within the next 10 years.
Type 2 – “The Salesperson”
If I had to guess I would assume that 70% of the F&I managers I have met fall into this category. These folks have relatively clean paperwork and are average producers when it comes to F&I results. These are the people who would benefit the most from PROPER training. The Type 2 Salesperson will come to work and get the job done keeping to themselves and only focusing on closing deals and selling products (typically selling 1 product very well). Type 2 people are great salespeople, but they are not managers.
Type 3 – “CSI Killer”
Type 3 CSI Killers makes my skin crawl. This is the type that causes some of the problems in our industry and why customers have trust issues with Auto Dealer’s. When the Type 3 CSI Killer is in F&I, the F&I office becomes the place where greed takes over and ethics go to die. The Type 3 CSI Killer is the person that works the Sales Manager / Desk more than anyone else. This manager will desk everything in a beneficial way for his/her pay plan and magically make products fit into the customers quoted payment. Manipulation for the sole purpose of greed is not selling!! Some of the worst offenders of this category will even sell low end products when higher level coverages are available. This type of person only works for themselves and is only concerned with their paycheck. This person WILL send your chargebacks through the roof, destroy your CSI, and damage your store’s culture. This person should not be in our business.
Type 4 – “F&I Manager”
Now we can officially use the “Manager” title. This Manager does a great job producing income and has clean paperwork. They also work and hold meetings with all the managers in the dealership. They will conduct “save a deal” meetings with their sales team every morning to discuss the good, bad, and ugly specific to the deliveries that happened the day before. The Type 4 F&I manager will build a game plan for the days deliveries before the meeting adjourns. On a weekly basis this manager will hold a meeting with the sales team to update them with new information regarding the F&I department. This manager will always look for a way to increase profit and CSI for the dealership. If you or your F&I Manager fall into this category: Great job!
Type 5 – “F&I Manager/Trainer”
This manager does everything a Type 4 F&I Manager does but adds training. These managers will train your salespeople on the road to the sale. They will train your service advisors how to sell more VSC’s out of service. They will train your sales managers how to desk deals. They will have a productive working relationship with all your banks, product providers, state associations and your factory. These people are a gift to the store and are extremely hard to replace. In my 20-year career I would put these managers in the top 1%.
Type 6 – “F&I Professional”
If we were playing football, these managers would all be in the NFL. These professionals do everything Type 4 and 5 will do but they approach the entire job differently. F&I Professionals inspire and lead everyone around them. F&I Professionals do their job with purpose and are laser focused on what they will achieve. F&I Professionals change the culture of the entire business and are loved by everyone who works there. This is the magical F&I Professional and yes... they do exist.
We all may have the same title but, that sure as heck doesn’t mean we are all the same. Decide who you want to be!!
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