How Your Culture Drives Performance

On this week’s episode of F&I Today, Becky Chernek talks about establishing a culture that defines who you are, spiffing salespeople on product sales, and today’s evolving customers.


Becky Chernek: Welcome to F&I Today. I’m your host Becky Chernek, and I’m so happy you’re able to join us today. It was a pleasure to have Adam Arens, a dealer principal for the Patriot Subaru and a very successful dealer as a guest on F&I Today. And in our discussion, we talked about the importance of training your sales team and all aspects of the transaction, including financing. I recently received several comments from viewers that somewhat surprised me. And one of the comments said that in order for the sales person to endorse product sales, you have to be willing to spiff them, otherwise they won’t do it. Now, I’m not saying that a well-thought out pay plan doesn’t drive performance, but it’s not everything. Your culture is who you are and it drives performance and excellence without requiring you to give up your power to a lower standard. Sometimes I wonder if situation like these are a result of bad hiring decisions or if it’s the lack of support comes from many people just tolerating this kind of mindset.

And so let’s think about it this way. I know it’s all about making profit. Everyone wants to earn a good living, but when you start doing the right thing by your customer and they see that you’re acting in their best interest, you will always be successful. When I worked in sales, I wanted to know everything I could about putting deals together. I wanted total transparency. I wanted to know everything that there was about the deal and that deal structure, how to read an Equifax report and you name it. I was a sponge and as a result, I was rewarded by selling more cars and making a higher profit on every deal. And so I was even called the documentation queen. If I saw a customer had some slow pay history, I talked to them about it. If the information wasn’t or was inaccurate, I asked the customer for documentation to show that they were paid an up to date.

I also asked for proof of income or proof of residence in to me. It’s simply made sense to get my ducks in a row, A. Eliminating all obstacles to get that credit approval and B. Putting the customer on the right car the first time out. I knew if I did this, I was much more likely to sell a higher number of cars and that’s exactly what happened. I did my homework for the F&I manager. You didn’t have to spiff me to get me to do my job. And as a result of all that extra work, I didn’t have to work in circles or wait for hours to find if my customer was going to take delivery of a vehicle.

You can imagine that when I give feedback that dealers should spiff the salesperson in order for them to be interested in learning the fundamentals of selling a car, well, that just doesn’t go well with me. Is this really the case? Why aren’t those dealers insisting that the salesperson have a specific roadmap to a sale? A map that includes training in all aspects of the sale, including knowing how financing works. What on earth can dealers be thinking? Why aren’t more F&I managers getting out of their office and taking the initiative by training these salespeople? Why aren’t more dealer principals insisting that the F&I manager play a part in this hiring process. After all, two heads are better than one.

As I always say, inspect what you expect and never set your salesperson up to fail. Turnover and dealerships is at an all time high. And one of the main reasons for this is that we have this lack of leadership. It’s got nothing to do with spiffing on product sold. It’s about establishing a culture that defines who you are. It’s what makes sales people follow your lead. And when you tolerate a lower standard, your fate is sealed. The same can be said for products that you sell to your customers.

Perhaps it’s a great idea to spiff your salesperson or production. I believe that the salesperson should be properly compensated on front and back end performance, but there is never any excuse for a salesperson not being properly trained on product, sales or anything else for that matter. It does take two to tango. Customers buy from people that they like and dealerships that are credible. If your salesperson isn’t capable of endorsing a product that they have no idea what they’re talking about, it’s impossible for them to turn a no into a yes. Instead of worrying about how much you should be spiffing the salesperson, why not consider instead why you even tolerate this kind of thing to begin with?

Are you hiring the right person for your business? Do you have the right leaders in place? Today’s customers are evolving. They have more information at their fingertips than ever before and this disruptor is beating you at your game. There is nowhere to hide from this. Training your sales department on all aspects of the deal is a critical component of your success. It will separate you from the rest who still believed that keeping this salesperson in the dark is a good idea.

F&I managers, you got to get out of their offices and become involved in that hiring decision and all training aspects. What worked yesterday doesn’t today and it won’t tomorrow. Set the right kind of example and give your salesperson a reason to follow your lead. Well, thank you for joining me on F&I Today. Be sure to come back next week right here on the CBT automotive network for our next edition of F&I Today. Also, feel free to contact me regarding my consulting services at 404-276-4026. My specialty is providing F&I training, helping auto dealers achieve a higher level of performance by improving internal processes that begin the moment the customer touches down on the dealership website and ends with finalizing in-person transactions in F&I or later. Start making a difference today. And you got to go ahead and check out my F&I online platform, Turning Consulting Virtual Pro, and take your F&I department to greater heights.

F&I Today, brought to you by eLend Solutions. This has been a JBF Business Media production.