F&I managers

When someone has done the same job for years, the exact same way every day, it can be a challenge to get them to embrace change. With F&I, the old way of working a deal has changed a lot over the decades and with it, F&I managers have had to adapt. New products, new presentation methods, new compliance rules, and regulations. The list goes on and on.

But what do you do if you have an F&I manager who won’t embrace change – not even a change that makes them better at their job or could help them achieve their goals quicker? How do you reach them?

At first glance, it’s easy to simply say ‘Get rid of them’ but that’s not always easy to do. You don’t just find qualified F&I folks standing around on the corner waiting to get hired. It’s a unique skillset and temperament that helps to ensure success and if you have a veteran F&I manager who is good but needs some polish, don’t give up.

Here are a few tips that may help if you are a director or GM struggling with getting them to embrace change.

Fresh approach to training

You could have someone who may be several years out from their last formal F&I training and they think refreshers are not necessary. It’s your job to convince them that ongoing training is a critical part of their success and that new training methodologies are introduced every year. Someone may have a new way to approach an old problem with closing or overcoming objections and they could benefit from that exposure.

If they resist the idea of further training, make it clear why you are suggesting it, that it will be good for their career and their commission check.

Related: Hiring new talent: Does your dealership have proper training in place?

Enlist the help of others

helping

Some could say this could be looked at as ‘ganging up’ on them but if positioned the right way, it could be seen as a friendly nudge instead. If you have other F&I managers who have already changed their practices and procedures as directed, have a department meeting with them and the manager in question. Have them describe how embracing the new way of doing ‘X’ is working for them and how it makes their job so much easier. Again, this could be anything from a new sales tactic to a faster way to execute paperwork.

But there is something to be said for having your peers chat with you about how you could find the same positive effect as they did by tweaking a few things here and there. It requires a softer touch but it could be very effective. After all, we tend to take suggestions from our peers better than from management.

Time to dig deep

If all else fails and you truly want to find out why your F&I manager refuses to change their process, simply go offsite for a bite to eat, and ask them what the issue is. Be empathetic, not combative. Invite him/her to be as candid as possible and that you are ultimately trying to help them be the most successful they can be while maintaining dealership procedural consistency.

You may be surprised at the answer you get. Maybe it’s fear of failure, that changing how they work a deal could backfire and impact their PVR. Or it could be baggage from another store that has them digging their heels in and refusing to do things differently.

The point is you won’t know unless you ask.

Reality could also be that even after all these ‘soft touch’ approaches, they simply refuse to change or adapt. And there is no shame in making it clear, as a last resort, that you need them to do this, or they will have to be replaced.

No Director or GM wants to have that talk but sometimes you’re not left with much choice. But exhaust every avenue and make sure you have backup F&I managers ready so your store is not caught shorthanded on a Saturday.


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