Every dealership has had THAT F&I manager. You know the one…he/she has been there for 10-15 years or more. They carry deep knowledge of banks and buyers, they can sniff out a bad deal a mile away, and they may even still sell product the same way they did years ago (albeit more careful now to adhere to current regulatory requirements). They do a deal the same way as they have for years and can be resistant to moving to a new system or protocol.

But with the F&I office experiencing a rapid shift in the way it operates, how do you bring them along and get them out of their comfort zone? Can it be done and how does the dealership keep them happy and earning?

Here are a few ways your dealership can actively engage the veteran F&I managers and help them break out of old habits…

  1. Commit to Training – Most F&I managers are trained by a variety of outside companies that either have your managers go to ‘school’ or have on-site education offered. Both are solid processes but also consider in-house training scheduled monthly…just your staff and management. This could be less intimidating for some veteran F&I managers and could help foster a stronger sense of teamwork between the vets and the newer F&I managers.

  2. Give them a Voice – No one likes to feel like an industry is passing them by, that their expertise or experience is no longer relevant. Take the time to recognize a veteran F&I manager’s experience and help them understand how that can translate to the next generation of F&I selling. Encourage their participation in helping to mentor or train a ‘newbie’ to the F&I office. Encourage new and veteran F&I managers to work closely together to help fill in knowledge or technique gaps. One can bring along the other without a clash of egos.

  3. Comp Plans and Tools to Foster Success – Old-school F&I managers have likely already seen a lot of change when it comes to how they are paid and what they must use to sell products. Be sure your dealership compensation plans are still giving the veteran F&I managers the chance for the high income they are accustomed to. This will diminish the likelihood that they shortcut a deal or do something unethical to turn a higher gross and foster a better relationship with their fellow F&I staff.

If your store is not fully invested in a menu-based platform, now is the time. Veteran F&I managers can benefit from these new tools and it can move them towards the future of product selling quickly and efficiently. As always, it’s all in how you present it to your veteran staff…everyone uses these tools, everyone follows the established selling protocol, everyone makes LOTS of money. No one left behind and everyone wins.

F&I managers that have been in the business for years have a lot of valuable sales experience under their belts. But the industry is moving to an increased reliance on digital platforms to sell product and qualify buyers, social media involvement, and a greater level of engagement on the sales floor. Your vets have to get on board and understand that their years of experience can only strengthen that shift to the future. They just need a little nudge in the right direction as we all do from time to time.

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Kristine Cain is a freelance writer who loves the car business, hiking long trails, and the Steelers (not necessarily in that order). After finishing a degree in psychology at George Mason University in Virginia, she got her first taste of the dealer world working in the service department of a high volume Honda store. Warned early on that the car business would ‘get in her blood’, it did and Kristine made the leap into F&I departments at several stores around the Washington DC area and later to an automotive information company in dealer sales. A veteran of over 20 years in B2B sales to dealers, she leverages that knowledge to help write within the dealer market. Kristine lives in Holly Springs, NC with her husband and family.

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