When your dealership is faced with an F&I manager that is underperforming in PVR and CSI scores, what do you do? Do you just get frustrated and start cleaning house? Do you start thinking about what salespeople you can elevate from the floor to the box? 

Maybe there is another way to deal with the need for BIG change in F&I. Maybe hiring new managers is not the best solution for your store. 

Training is often the stopgap to elevate someone’s skills. F&I ‘schools’ can deploy expensive trainers to come in and work with a manager that is struggling but you have to evaluate ROI during a pandemic where profits may be slow to recover.

What your F&I manager may need more than a ‘trainer’ is a coach. Think they are the same? They’re not.  

The Biggest Differences Between a Trainer & a Coach

Trainers come into the dealership to teach a new employee how to execute specific processes, paperwork, and widely accepted best practices in F&I. They give knowledge where there is none (assuming the F&I new hire is truly green and has never been in the role before). Trainers mold the ‘lump of clay’ into someone who can handle the paperwork, understands compliance, and can give the talking tracks to help them walk through the menu of products.

A coach is something altogether differentCoaching is the act of improving and enhancing knowledge that is already intact. They help elevate the skills the F&I manager already possesses and gives them the edge to take their skills to the next level for more success. 

Coaches don’t waste time with going all in on known processes and procedures. They want you to be better at everything you already know how to do. They push, they encourage, and they can come in and help fix specific problems before they get out of hand. 

Save Time & Money by Coaching

Your F&I administrator probably offers some level of training and will either send someone to the store (or Zoom until things are safer) or you could pay a sizeable amount of money to send the F&I manager away to a school for intensive training. But can your dealership shoulder that cost now? Is it necessary?

Another thing to consider is that the time your F&I manager is away means others are taking up the slack. Efficiency suffers. Deals could back up on busy days. In house training takes time, too. If you have hired a new F&I manager, they need time to ramp up before they can take their first deal. Can your store afford that time?

Choosing to have your best performing F&I manager or your Director simply coach staff that need it keeps all hands-on-deck as training can be done mid-week when it’s slower and it costs NOTHING extra.   

Respect and Rapport Are Invaluable

There is nothing more deflating to a struggling staff member than to have someone they don’t know or someone that has never done their job tell them what to do. It may be an unpopular viewpoint but there is something to be said for having a team member or director be the person to help coach you to be better.

They already have an established rapport, and they KNOW all the pitfalls you face. They have ‘been there, done that’ and when you want to improve, you will take their advice and guidance better than someone from the outside or someone who hasn’t worked a deal in years. Respect (or lack thereof) looms large in this scenario.  

Coaching Caveats

If you don’t have anyone in the department that is strong enough or patient enough to coach another manager who needs help, then maybe this is not the way to go. If your store has cultivated an ‘every man/woman for themselves’ spirit, coaching will be tough. And if there is no real team spirit among the staff… well, you know how that could turn out.

Every dealership could benefit, though, from giving a successful staff member the task of helping to coach another. It makes them feel important to the department’s success and if done properly, they will feel a sense of pride knowing they helped another be their best and most successful self. 

Coaching could make all the difference and will almost certainly build a stronger F&I team for the long term. 

customer-centric department in the after-sales industry. 

Did you enjoy this article from Kristine Cain? Read other articles on CBT News here. Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic at newsroom@cbtnews.com.

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay up to date or catch-up on all of our podcasts on demand.

While you’re here, don’t forget to subscribe to our email newsletter for all the latest auto industry news from CBT News.