Wanted: Extraordinary F&I Manager

After a very challenging economic recovery, we have finally seen the unemployment rate reach pre-recession levels. This is excellent news on several fronts – except one. Finding high caliber candidates to fill critical roles becomes more difficult.  With fewer rock-star resumes hitting the desk, a dealership owner or general manager needs to be creative. Look around the office. Is your extraordinary F&I manager right under your nose?

And what does that extraordinary F&I manager look like? The answer might be different – depending on whom you ask. If you ask the sales team, they might say, “The F&I manager just sells products – after I’ve sold the vehicle!” The lending partner might say, “The F&I manager does the initial deal structuring – that I may or may not agree with!” And the general manager might say, “The F&I manager needs to keep our lenders happy, make sure we’re in compliance – and make some money!”

Clearly, the F&I manager wears many hats within the dealership. So what exactly are their responsibilities? We can divide them into four categories:

  • Sales
  • Management
  • Administration
  • Legal

Let’s quantify those a little more and see if this exceptional person is already on your team.

More than just selling products

While it’s true that the F&I manager sells products – they sell much more than that. In order to sell the right F&I products to the customer, they first must build a relationship with that customer. They are also selling customers on the dealership’s service and maintenance capabilities – not just another place to buy their next car. So ask yourself – do you have someone who is a good listener, thinks fast on their feet, and builds relationships quickly? They might be your candidate.

Not only does the F&I manager sell to the dealership’s customers, but they are also responsible for selling those customers to the dealership’s lending partners. In this way, F&I managers are the “face” of the dealership. It’s critical that they understand the lender’s requirements and send the right type of business their way. Do you have someone on your staff with a good financial mindset who can speak the lender’s language? Or would a little training give them the necessary background?

Finally, the F&I manager needs to sell to their internal team, educating them that a solid F&I package can truly “save the deal.” And saving the deal means more gross profit and better paychecks for all. Do you have a good team player or natural leader on your team? Can they effectively bridge the gap across all departments?

Managing Up – and Down

Often, great F&I team members graduated from sales to the F&I office. It’s likely they were top producers. But not all salespeople are designed to be managers. It takes the right balance of managing “up” to the general manager and managing “down” to other department colleagues. Again, a good leader/team player might be the best candidate.

Crossing “T’s” and Dotting “I’s”

The devil is truly in the details when managing the back end administrative components of a vehicle sale. Is the contract in order? Did the customer sign every form? Was the right money collected? While they seem tedious, these are very important matters that require a detail-oriented individual.

Compliance has added a new wrinkle to these details. The F&I manager is responsible for ensuring the dealership – and every deal completed – is in compliance with a bevy of local, state, and federal rules and regulations. This responsibility cannot be taken lightly. Mistakes can result in costly lawsuits. Do you have an employee with the maturity to accept this responsibility?

Legal Beagle

The sale of a vehicle is a legal contract between a dealership and the purchaser. While most dealerships have legal consultants, it’s often the F&I manager who is consulted first to validate all forms have been properly executed. The F&I manager is also governed by several F&I laws, encapsulated by the 300% rule. In essence, the dealership must present 100% of F&I products to 100% of the customers 100% of the time. Failure to do so can result in onerous personal and dealership fines. Do you have a team member who knows their way around legalese?

Finding the perfect candidate right under your nose might be unlikely. But finding the best candidate – and providing some critical training – could result in an extraordinary F&I manager.  At Empire Dealer services, we provide the necessary training to take your candidate from good to great. The difference can mean a highly successful and profitable dealership or a struggling one facing expensive chargebacks and potential compliance-related legal fees.

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