The Characteristics that Define Truly Successful F&I Managers

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Is there a reason why some F&I managers outperform by earning nearly double per car than what others do? Is it just the luck of the draw that causes some F&I managers to get all the difficult deals? The answer to that, as you’re probably thinking, is no. Luck has nothing to do with it. On this week’s episode of F&I Today, host and president of Chernek Consulting, Becky Chernek discusses why some F&I managers are more successful than others.

F&I managers who succeed believe in the value of training and they aren’t naysayers. They don’t complain about trying new things. They’re not stuck in their old ways. They don’t make excuses about why something won’t work and they don’t try to talk their way out of doing the hard work. In this positive mind frame, I have seen many F&I managers practice and rehearse, even going so far as to make videotapes of themselves so they can look back on their own performance, take notes, and change their approach to ensure they’re even more successful. Successful F&I managers always ask questions because they’re open to learning new things.

To me, the people who do this are the definition of success, and the definition of sanity. Didn’t someone once say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? If that’s the case, I have found over time that some F&I managers and dealership staff are just complacent. They continue to wear down the same ruts, arriving at the same place (poor performance, low sales, decreasing income, you name it) without even attempting to find out what they’re doing wrong and change it. Education and evolution is important. The success stories are always reading trade articles and books about their industry. They know it’s not enough to just show up every day, but that they also have to stay sharp to continue to be successful.

There’s also a scary truth in all this. Being an F&I manager isn’t easy, but as you know there’s always someone gunning for the job, and if that someone is the kind of person to do their homework and constantly improve, there’s all the more reason for you to take charge of your attitude! Never say never! Go all in or go home!

F&I is the department that builds trust. If you don’t have that, customers will go elsewhere to find it. Nowadays car buyers have plenty of choices. It’s up to you to cater to them and to grow in your ability to serve their needs to ensure they not only buy a car from you today but that they continue to come back time and time again in the future. Customer retention is all about trust and creditability. Trust is lost when F&I managers fail to get involved early in the buying process, and it can also negatively impact the overall strength of your sales team.

Don’t ever forget the importance of teamwork to ensuring success – not only your success but everyone at the dealership. What good is it to have a world-class talented F&I person but the rest are lagging behind? Remember, it always takes two to tango. It’s important for F&I managers to assist sales, and vice versa, by attending sales meetings and getting involved. Always have a sense of urgency do whatever that you can to help put that deal together and when you do everyone wins!


Did you enjoy this episode of F&I Today with Becky Chernek? Please share your thoughts, comments, or questions regarding this topic with host Jim Fitzpatrick at jfitzpatrick@cbtnews.com.

Car Biz Today, the official resource of the retail automotive industry.

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Rebecca Chernek, founded Chernek Consulting, LLC in 2001, has nearly three decades of experience in the automobile dealership industry. She started her career by working with her father at their family-owned auto dealerships in Have De Grace, Maryland. She gained hands-on skills and experience in almost every aspect of the automotive sales process: new used cars and trucks sales, F&I, Director of Finance for volume operations and general management. She was hired in 1986 as the first woman to sell cars for Al Packer Lincoln & Mercury in Baltimore, and in 1989, she was promoted to F&I Manager for Ron Bortnick Ford in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. In 1995, Rebecca took a position with the JM&A Group and was promoted to District Manager for the AutoNation division — the #1 retailer in the United States — to hire, train boost profits and implement menu selling. She single-handedly earned a sterling reputation for adding millions of dollars to the bottom line for all her accounts! Rebecca has a well-deserved reputation as a self-starter, high-performer, and spirited entrepreneur and motivator. It’s not a matter of what you think you know… it’s a matter of proving it! As a consultant, trainer and nationally recognized expert in F&I Training and sales procedures, Rebecca has helped hundreds of automotive car dealers throughout the United States and Canada streamline their processes and closing techniques and significantly increase profits. She writes regularly for Wards Business, CBT Automotive Network, Dealer Magazine, Subprime News and as a NCM 20 Group F&I Guest Expert. She facilitates for the NCM Institute, Desking and F&I Integration. Rebecca is the anchor for F&I Today – CBT Automotive Network headquartered in Atlanta, GA. Don’t forget to check out our interactive continuing F&I online education platform Chernek Consulting Virtual Pro the best kept secrets on how to be successful in F&I! Boost your F&I performance! Every dealer must have to help your F&I manager increase sales and profits while reducing liability.

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