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Turning Pet Peeves into Positives

Pet peeves. We’ve all got ‘em. They course through our veins and pick at our last nerve. Most of us keep them to ourselves, never really letting the world know the very things that drive us nuts. Maybe you think it’s easier to just bite your lip and keep your mouth shut – but where’s the fun in that? Let’s get in the water and make some waves! I’ll start.

The following are some of the things that some people – not you, of course – do in the business that have been driving me crazy for as long as I can remember. But it’s not all about complaining – it’s taking steps to offer truly proactive solutions to a handful of age-old progress barriers.

The Interview

Prior to coming into the F&I office, the interview serves to ensure every last detail of the transaction is accurate. It raises product awareness and breaks down barriers. Every single time a deal goes into the F&I office unchecked, the chances are high it’s riddled with errors. Taking the time to review all documentation for accuracy prior to sending the customer to F&I makes all the sense in the world – and yet a puzzlingly high number of sales pros don’t do this. My question: why? My suggestion: don’t flake out on this all-important task! Earning a customer’s trust is hard enough without having to try to get it back after you’ve lost it!

Taking Too Long to Deliver the Car 

Once a customer touches down inside the F&I office, the wheels of delivery should already be turning. Dealerships should be working diligently to reduce the time it takes to deliver the vehicle. This is done by validating all information from the aforementioned interview to ensure accuracy. Working overtime to clean up paperwork errors so that you can present your products can cost you. Instead of that, be sure to first get a signed deal checklist from the sales manager. This keeps those proverbial little duckies in a row

Not Getting a Buyers Agreement

It stands to reason that all deals should have a buyers agreement prior to entering F&I. But instead, these are often substituted with wacky, off-the-wall worksheets that can be difficult to decipher.  Be sure to get the buying numbers properly signed off by the customer or desk peeves

Flaking on Compliance

Doing things by the book may be a total drag, but it’s got to be done. Confirming payoffs before contracting the customer takes more time – but it’s worth it in the long run if the result is ensured profits and customers not coming back the following day!

Spot deliveries gone bad

Okay, this one mystifies me just a tad. I’m not quite sure if people do this because they don’t know any better, or because they simply don’t want to! If you’re recontracting on different terms a dealer is required to send out an adverse letter reaction. If you’re playing outside the rules, you may want to consider an arbitration agreement it might come in handy.  

Skipping the OFAC Form

Okay, I’ll be honest. I think the OFAC form is silly too. But the government doesn’t. They want every customer – cash customers and lease customers alike – to be verified to determine if they’re on the OFAC list. The good part about this is that it’s easy to do and it doesn’t have to take place in the F&I office – it can be done in advance, saving everyone a bunch of time and worry.

Not Presenting Menus

We should all know by now that a menu allows you to present 100 percent of your products 100 percent of the time to 100 percent of your customers. It’s easy, it’s no hassle, and it’s fast. It’s also been proven that customers will buy if they aren’t pressured to do so. The other reason we utilize menus is to ensure a customer understands all of the buying numbers prior to presenting them with products. This includes the base payment for their vehicle. Dealers spend tons of money on menu software programs we should put them to good use.

F&I Managers and Desk Managers Quoting Payments… and More

I don’t think I’m alone in believe that F&I managers and desk managers shouldn’t be in a position to quote payments, offer financial arrangements, or handle a customer’s personal information without first undergoing proper training. Remember, this is no game of Family Feud – this is real life! When you’re dealing with people’s sensitive financial information, it’s imperative that you be properly trained.

Bemoaning CFPB

I know you don’t like talking about the CFPB. Neither do I. But if you want my honest opinion, the organization is here to stay – and they’ll continue to train their watchful eyes on everything the auto industry does, looking out for deceptive and discriminatory lending practices as well as product gouging. Don’t think you can pick and choose which customers you’ll offer a product at whatever mark-up you decide because you think Big Brother’s not watching. He is!

Promoting Sales Managers to the Desk Without Prior F&I Experience

You wouldn’t hire just anyone to handle your accounting. And you wouldn’t dream of letting someone poke around under your hood without making sure they’ve got the proper certification. The same should go for Sales and F&I. Anyone who’s promoted into these important positions should be given thorough training that will enable them to quote structured deals to the cent, based on the customer’s credit criteria and bank guidelines. Taking action will avoid those nasty scenarios like sending deals into F&I with an underwater payment, or terms unavailable for the F&I manager to figure out and close.

I know there are many out there who might believe airing pet peeves is not proactive. But I disagree. All you have to do is cast your memory back a few decades – back to a time when smoking in public places was allowed, for example, or when people looked the other way at drunk drivers. When people decide to do something about their pet peeves, it can make the world a better place. It’s my firm belief that talking about the pet peeves that stand in the way of progress can pave the way for major change. I think it can do the same for the auto industry.  Change is difficult for many but the rewards are plenty. 

Becky Chernek
Becky Chernek
Rebecca Chernek has nearly three decades of consulting experience in the automotive retail 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. Rebecca has helped hundreds of automotive car dealers throughout the U.S. and Canada streamline their processes and closing techniques and significantly increase profits.

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