For as long as there have been ‘sales’ teams’, there has always been a fundamental problem of exactly HOW to motivate, excite, or inspire them to achieve more sales and more profit. F&I managers in the dealership environment are really no different. They are tasked with making a sizable amount of dealership profit and have to battle industry stereotypes along the way.
F&I, while one of the more lucrative positions at any store, can be a rather thankless job as well. Customers are automatically hesitant to listen to presentations, there can be conflicts between sales and F&I for a number of reasons, and the hours can be long in busy metropolitan stores. Sometimes they are the first one to arrive and the last one to leave if there is a car to be delivered.
So, let’s take a look at how dealerships can help inspire their F&I staff by creating an environment that is equals parts fun and profitable…
- Gamification – This concept is generally used to help utilize electronic or video game technology to help explain otherwise complex ideas to the consumer. But with a sales team, gamification can inject a little fun into incentive contests among the F&I managers. Contests, leaderboards (out of sight of customers, of course), and prizes/incentives that use a game framework can motivate your staff and cultivate a healthy sense of competition.
Studies have shown that sales teams see as much as a 50% increase in sales performance when using gamified incentives. Salespeople on the floor have been taking advantage of ‘spiffs’ for decades whether it’s cash for moving aged inventory or earning an extra day off for moving the most units on a Saturday. Why can’t the F&I staff enjoy the same kinds of incentives?
Make sure you come up with both team contests and individual contests, too. Always reward the F&I managers for pushing each other to meet department goals without feeling like individual achievement suffers.
- Recognition – Everyone has a basic need to be recognized for a ‘job well done’ regardless of what kind of job you do every day. The school bus driver wants the recognition for being a safe driver as much as the heart surgeon wants to be seen as the best in his/her field of expertise. Your F&I staff is the same. They want to know they are valued beyond just their back-end numbers.
Just as top salespeople are usually named on a plaque on the showroom floor, so should your F&I managers for achieving PVR goals or consistently high CSI or whatever metric is most important in your store. Maybe they are the longest tenured F&I manager or maybe they have helped the sales staff a great deal that month out on the floor. It can be anything that makes your staff feel valued enough to show every customer walking through the store.
It could be a simple mention on the website, too. A ‘shout-out’ on the dealer Facebook page. You get the point.
- Involvement – Successful dealerships, both franchise and independent, seem to all do one thing with all staff members, especially F&I managers…they get them involved. This could mean having them attend sales meetings to help educate sales staff on new products and finance or lease programs. It could be a weekly meeting with executive management to allow an open forum for questions, concerns, and requests for anything from new training to revisions in compensation. Maybe it is something as simple as inviting an F&I manager to sit in on new hires interviews.
The common thread in the above examples is that the F&I managers don’t feel like they are just another profitable cog in the wheel. They are asked to be a PART of important decisions or discussions about things that matter directly to them. They are involved in the dealership operations in whatever ways they can be, both big and small. Will a GM always act on a suggestion from a staff member? No, but in an effort to make them feel like their involvement is important to the operation of the dealership, it goes a long way.
Psychologists have been studying many of these issues for decades when it comes to what people need to feel valued in the workplace. A car dealership is no different and with F&I staff, you can have either of two different types of daily environment set up.
Your store could have a group of ‘lone wolves’ who slog through the day with only money on their mind knowing that is all they may be worth to upper management or…
You can have a team of F&I professionals who are excited to come to work because they know that their effort and achievement will be worth a little something extra, either tangible or intangible.
Try it and see how the mood starts to shift. Management has all the power when it comes to making the F&I a fun and desirable department to work in.