Meetings. Love them or hate them, they are a necessary evil in any business. Dealerships are not immune, and most meetings seem to revolve around the sales staff every week, usually Saturday mornings before they open the doors. But when was the last time your store had a meeting for the F&I staff? How often do they meet? Are they productive meetings or just an afterthought?
The F&I department’s meetings should be just as important as the sales or service meetings you conduct. So how can you maximize that time and make it as valuable for the staff as it is for management? How can you make it something that the staff looks forward to?
Here are 4 ways to make every F&I meeting impactful and helpful…
- Weekly or Monthly? – Many people complain about weekly meetings but there are distinct advantages. Weekly meetings, while shorter in duration, can make it easier to conduct training and role-playing for staff. Each week can be a different theme to these trainings and a weekly meeting could make it easier to go over challenges as they arise versus waiting for a monthly meeting to address concerns.
Monthly meetings have the advantage of not burning out the staff and management can make it a longer, multi-faceted gathering with more in-depth training, guest trainers, or other dealer personnel as a guest speaker. Some dealerships make the monthly meeting a mini-roundtable or retreat style of meeting that may be off-site and have a fun element of team building included.
Either has their advantages but most successful stores conduct a weekly meeting to keep training topics fresh and to be able to easily address timely concerns.
- Clear Agenda – Don’t waste your F&I managers time. It’s that simple. Make sure the meeting has a clearly defined purpose so that all staff know exactly how to prepare and what will be discussed. Let them know who will be a guest (sales manager, service director, bankers, etc.) and what topics will be covered.
The F&I managers are busy and have arguably one of the more pressure-filled jobs at the dealership…don’t make these meetings something they dread because they are unorganized and boring.
- Active Role-Playing & Practice – There are few training methods as effective as role-playing, especially in any kind of sales position. It’s one of the best ways to help your F&I staff understand their own shortcomings in both presentation and product knowledge when executed in a supportive manner. Work on both common scenarios and unique situations that may have come up the week before…make it a timely way to address challenges that everyone may encounter.
Ask the staff to come up with these scenarios even if they have not dealt with it personally. Make sure your director works through these role-play scenarios with the staff. This will let them know that even the most seasoned F&I professionals can struggle, too. And never let these exercises be punitive in nature. It’s a valuable learning tool for everyone (directors, too!) and will help you strengthen the skills and knowledge of every F&I manager.
- Assign Homework! – Don’t be afraid to give out homework assignments to your F&I managers to be completed by the next meeting. This holds your staff accountable for the learning opportunities they have been given and keeps them engaged throughout the week putting those new skills into practice.
Ask what worked and what didn’t throughout the week. Have them bring those results to the next meeting. When you make the managers feel like their opinions and experiences are important to you (management, director), they will WANT to try new things they learn each week. They will not only want to give you feedback, but they will feel like their voice matters.
Consider weekly meetings, make them interactive and not just a lecture or rehash of department statistics, make sure each meeting has a defined purpose, and don’t be afraid to have your staff try out new techniques throughout to be able to report back on successes or struggles. You F&I managers will thank you for it…