F & I Training for Automotive Dealerships

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The Definitive Guide to F & I

How the choices your dealership makes in choosing, training, and rewarding your F & I department can boost your profits, improve your customer satisfaction, and skyrocket your customer retention.

Five-time best-selling author and former general manager Max Zanan is our guest on this episode of the How To Sell More Cars Podcast talking about his latest work, The Definitive Guide To F & I.

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recorded live 8.2.23 for more free car sales training subscribe at youtube, amazon, apple, iheart, or linkedIn 

The Definitive Guide To F & I

Episode Summary

  • Introduction of the episode.
    • How to sell more cars podcast with max zanon, best selling author and author of five books, the definitive guide to f and i.
    • How to increase customer retention.
    • Finance is the glue that connects the sales department and the service department. Without doing the right thing, it will be very difficult for the sales and front-end to achieve maximum profitability and to achieve a real customer retention.
    • The book was to bring some awareness to how complex f andi is.
  • How to attract and retain the right people?
    • One of the first things in the book is setting up the department to have top performers and great performers.
    • The number one reason why people leave automotive retail is spousal pressure.
    • Quality of life is the secret sauce to attracting quality employees. A normal environment with a normal schedule leads to employees producing more.
    • Creating a culture where people want to stay.
    • In order to build generational wealth, you need generation of customers. The sales and service teams need to be comfortable dealing with multiple generations of people.
    • A lot of times, dealers make a mistake and overload the existing finance manager instead of hiring an additional finance manager.

Summary Continued Below


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  • The number of deals that finance managers do.
    • The number for finance managers is three to three and a half deals a day, 880 deals a month.
    • The second part of the job is to upsell certain products.
    • Finance managers in many cases are not properly equipped to get customers approved, especially when it comes to subprime credit.
    • The automotive industry is trying to fight the speed thing.
    • The last three years of car dealers in America have been in a profit coma. They need to invest in car sale training their staff in every department.
    • Take a 360 degree look at operations.
  • The importance of having a great leader.
    • Training each and every person at the dealership, including the person running the dealership. Everything starts at the head and trickles down.
    • How to make deals turn faster.
    • When it comes to new cars, focus on leasing. Leasing is a short term loan, usually 36 months, 39 months, or even 27 or 18 months.
    • The long term game is more important than the short term game, and the aversion to leasing is coming from the dealers.
    • Nobody leases cars in Nashville. There are two factors to consider, geographical location and lack of knowledge when it comes to leasing.
    • How to make an appealing proposition to any customer.

Full Transcript Below


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Automotive Finance Manager Training

Terry Lancaster
welcome to another episode of the how to sell more cars podcast. I'm your host Terry Lancaster day. We've got an established author magazine and five Time Best Selling Author Max Zanon. Max then and he's going to talk to us about his new book The Definitive Guide to f&i and we were just having a conversation about car dealers about they leave money on the table. They shoot themselves in the foot every every every chance that chance they get Max's got five books, including the perfect dealership talking about ways to manage the dealership from the top to the bottom because he's been there done that he was the general manager of the largest Mitsubishi store in the nation, manage multi, multi rooftop operations. And now he's he's he's living living the good life writing books and soaking, soaking up the rays Max. How're you doing, buddy? Yeah. So I promised everybody I promised everybody want to invite you to this. We're gonna talk about three things. We're gonna talk about the the f&i department, but specifically, we wanted to talk about the f&i department, how he can go to boost profits for dealerships, how it's going to increase customer satisfaction for dealerships. And the thing that appealed to my heart is that how they can increase customer retention because Max talks a lot about building generational wealth for the dealer and the managers and the people involved. But in order to to build generational wealth, you've got to get generations of people you got to get fathers and sons and mothers and daughters and sisters and brothers and neighbors coming back over and over. And over again. Mac's tell us how the f&i department does all that.

Max Zanan
You know, I I wrote the first four books, not about that. Right. f&i was part of all the books but it wasn't the major focus. The first four books were about general management because, again, you know, from far it seems like a very simple business, right? You buy low, you sell a corner hot, right? But it's really, really complex. It's not just that, right? A lot has to do with training, you know, with having certain values with an ability to utilize software and marketing everything right. But I realized that I actually derive 100% of my income from f&i Consulting. So finally my fifth book I decided to write about AP but not

Terry Lancaster
so what you're saying is you can teach an old dog new tricks,

Full Transcript Continued Below


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F & I Training for Car Dealerships


Max Zanan
right? Because you know, it is absolutely crazy what we have happening right? You can become a finance tomorrow. Because there's absolutely no licensing requirements. There's no educational requirements, right? It's a free for all. Right, I'll give you an example. If you want to become a barber in New York City. You need to go through 500 hours of training 500 100 hours of training, right. And if you and I want to be finance managers, we can start tomorrow. Right and we, as best I go into get trained by Joe right and the next office. And this is how bad habits transcend generations, right because there's absolutely no licensing or educational requirements to do the job. And same goes for General Motors, right? So for example, nada University for jet for general managers, right, right. It's optional. Yeah. It's absolutely optional, and most, most dealers don't take advantage of it. So so the point of the book was to bring some awareness to how complex f&i is, right. And what I mean by that is that finance department is the glue that connects the sales department and the service department. So without doing the right thing, it will be very difficult for the sales department and for the front end for the service department to achieve maximum profitability and to achieve a real customer retention. And I'll give you an example. If you sell services contracts, right and every deal is self service. So for example, if you sell service contracts that and you do not offer a zero deductible for the customers that come back to you, or you do not have some kind of a mileage tie back so for example, if the car breaks down within 25 miles of the selling dealer, the customer should go back to the selling dealer to do the repair. Right, you're missing and you're leaving money on the table.

Terry Lancaster
And they're said there's so much so much money on the table. We one of the things. One of the first things that you you brought out look and the book was fantastic. I'm I come from the marketing side, and I've done training on the sales side. But I'm not an f&i guy. I've never worked in an f&i department. I don't know we don't know much about it. You did a great job of I mean, the book is just definition definition definition of all all the different things and all the things that could go wrong. But the thing that I really liked is you talked about setting up the department and the first thing you said what really right off the gate is is your your top performers, your great performers. They're really good people are going to be about the right people are going to be about three times as productive as as the average people and then you are a high proponent of going in getting those people in bring bringing in the best people rewarding them appropriately so that they stick around so that they're working five day weeks instead of seven days a week. So the work in eight hour days instead of 12 hour days, and they start to stick around and happy customers create happy employees. How do you how do you get the right people in the job? How do you keep them in the job?

Max Zanan
I'm a realist, right? And we can say yes, you can work bell to bell seven days a week. Right? You could totally agree right? At some point you're going to burn out and either your level of performance is going to go down or you're just going to quit right? Because the number one reason why people leave automotive retail is the spousal pressure. Right? Because you're never home. You're not home on the weekends, you don't get to see your kids. plays your kids soccer games, right? And, and that's not what's happening in other industries. Right. So So car dealers at some point have to recognize that quality of life is the secret sauce to attracting quality employees. Right because if you provide a normal environment with a normal schedule, right, you have employees producing way more, right because they have time to do it. Right. They have time to rest and and you have to reward it right. So this is really crazy. And I see this all the time. I get a phone call from finance manager and he says, You know, I just got to pay. I never get phone calls from finance managers that says you know what, I just gotta pay rate. It's always a pickup right? So not only that the schedule could be a little screwed up, right. But at some point when the viewer principal sees that the finance manager is earning too much, whatever too much means, right? Right. They immediately want to give him a pay cut as opposed to give him a pay raise. Sometimes right you have to overpay for talent. Because turnover is what happens when you don't write and turnover is extremely expensive. Because you have to hire a new person while you're training that new person. They're making mistakes and these mistakes are easily translated in into dollars and cents. Right? So you have to create a certain culture where people want to stick around, right and I'll give you a good example. I know a dealer that pays a bonus to each employee for each additional years of service. So it's $1,000 a year. So if you weren't there for the 10 year for example, right? around Christmastime you get a $10,000 bonus. It's $1,000 for each year that you are employed, and it doesn't matter if you're a finance manager or employer or technician that goes for all employees. And imagine you know that's that's really really good. But these people really know the business right? turnover is not a factor. customers know that you mentioned that you need in order to build generational wealth you need generation of customers. So imagine if the sales team or the service team was there for 1015 20 years, they know multiple generations of people already then what cars from them. These customers are comfortable dealing with them. You know, and for example, instead of going to Jiffy Lube, they're coming back to the service department to do the oil change, do the regular maintenance. You know they are buying service contracts and f&i products from the dealership as opposed to you know some third party that's being advertised on TV.

Terry Lancaster
You can't replicate those connections, those those those have to be been sent built in. And they have they have to be long term. And I tell dealers all the time that if your team if the people who work at your dealerships don't have an active, engaged social and family life outside of the dealership you're leaving money on the table because all the money comes from outside the dealership. Yeah, that's that's what that's where it has to be.

Max Zanan
Understand that in order for you to do a job, it's really easy to calculate how much time each task requires. Right so if it takes you half an hour to get the deal approved, and get the deal funded, and then it takes you another half an hour to 45 minutes to do your presentation to show the customer all the benefits and the features of each and every f&i product available. Right? There's only so many customers each finance manager can see during the day or during a one. Right so a lot of times dealers make a mistake. And instead of hiring an additional finance manager, they overload the existing one. And when you overload an existing finance manager, they only have less time to spend with that customer. And when you have less time to spend, you have less time to sell and that's how that the PVR you know the dollars you know, in profit go down.

Terry Lancaster
And also when, when when you lose

Max Zanan
service, a service advisor right? There's only so many customers you can see as a service advisor right if you need to spend half an hour with a customer right? And you work eight hours, right you need. You want to see 12 customers that's already six hours, right? You have an hour lunch and you have an hour to do the paperwork. So if you have the services Why is a C in 1520 customers a day I promise you that instead of upselling them certain repair or maintenance work. They just become order takers. Oh Terry here for an oil change. No problem.

Terry Lancaster
You You said in the book that the number for finance managers is three to three and a half deals a day 880 deals a month. And I noticed I've noticed a lot more you talked about the pay cuts. No one ever is. They're never presented as a pay cut. We're restructuring the restructuring, restructuring, but it always works out to be that and I've seen a lot more of that in the last couple of years because I think things are changing faster than they've ever changed before. So you change the pay structure and people leave then you got more people doing a B have fewer people doing more deals, which means the deal takes longer and every everything I've ever seen said that the people the thing that people hate the most about the car business is how long it takes to buy a car. What can you put in place to speed up the deal for that for the customers? How can f&i Move faster?

Max Zanan
Again, it comes down to quality on your personnel. Right Are you training them to do things right and finance managers need to do they need to be able to read a credit bureau in order to submit the deal to the right bank and structure the deal correctly? Because their main job is to get the best possible approval for the customer. Right. So what a lot of viewers do they focus on the second part of the job right and the second part of the job is to upsell certain f&i products, right. And it's all great when you you focus on the sales skill, but you absolutely have to focus on the first quarter of the job. Right? You need to be proactive and teach your people how to read the credit bureau how to speak to the credit analyst and the bank. How to understand the program that each bank has for that particular month in order for you to structure a deal that is appealing to that particular bank. Right. And and this is where I think we're where the delays happen. Why because finance managers in many cases are not properly equipped when it comes to getting customers approved. Especially especially if we're talking about subprime credit. Right, because anybody can get an 800 Credit Score approved, right? It's not hard, you just click Submit and you know, you get some kind of an approval. Right. But when there's, you know, 600 on the low credit score, when you have to get stiffed you need to get a proof of residence proof of income, right? Proof of trading, you know, it gets a little complicated. And, you know, people have a bad taste in their mouth when they have to wait four or five, six hours on the showroom to see finance manager.

Terry Lancaster
Yeah, so I'm assuming understanding that deal at the get go. eliminates some of that waiting time. All right. Yeah. But that's that's a complicated process. And there was a trend or at least rumblings in the automotive industry that when they're trying to fight this speed thing that we're gonna go cradle to grave we want one person from the time they walk in the door to the time they walk out that this person handles the deal. That may have slipped up and a little bit I haven't seen I haven't seen as many dealers talking about that don't see you know, as many people doing it, except for a few veteran salespeople cradle to grave is Is it a thing can it be done?

Max Zanan
It's a fantasy, right? And I'll tell you why. Right. You can ask any car dealer how hard it is to find a good salesperson, right? And then you can ask the same corporate dealer how hard it is to find the good finance. And then imagine finding that unicorn, right? There's going to be good at sales, good at understanding credit, good and understanding bank programs. And good at selling f&i products all as one person. Yeah, this is this is this is a complete fantasy that never ever right and I'm glad you're recording it. And I like the fact that I'm going in that direction saying this will

Terry Lancaster
so so what can so if you can't do cradle to grave which cradle to grave would be great for customer satisfaction. People like having one person they trust people like having things move faster. If cradle to grave isn't the answer for better, higher customer satisfaction and better customer retention. What is

Max Zanan
it doesn't look like anything else. You need qualified staff. Right and well trained staff and what I mean by well trained staff, I'm talking about all departments, right? It doesn't make sense to have super trained super qualified finance managers. And so So salespeople, right, because there's so so salespeople who will slow down the process and vice versa, right. Great salespeople will sell the car quickly, but then so so finance managers will slow down the process. So as a car dealer, and I have this expression from Brian Dhansak, right. He says that the last three years majority of car dealers in America were in a profit, coma. And when you're in a profit, coma, right, you really don't pay attention to training right? Because money just falls from you know what I mean? So So I hope that viewers are coming out of this profit, coma and reinvesting the profits that they made into training their staff in every single department, right because don't forget, if you don't get really good service in the service department, you're never coming back to buy a car, another car from the dealership. Right? So you can just focus on the sales doing the finance managers right and ignore the service department. You need to take a 360 degree look at your operations and dedicate you know, resources to training each and every person in each and every department.

Terry Lancaster
Each and each and every person that I'm glad you mentioned Brian Benson penstock Brian's Paragon Honda one of the top Honda dealers in the country, and when you when you talk about training each and every person at the dealership, that includes the person running the dealership, because everything starts at the head and if you don't, if you don't have a great leader than ever they have everything else just slipped through the cracks. So if there's something going wrong, look to the top first off the bat, and if there's something wrong, right, you look to the top truth.

Max Zanan
I agree, you know, and I, you know, I think training is really important, right? And you nailed it on the head, right? Because everything trickles down. So if the leader is not participating in training, then, you know, everybody in the dealership sees that obviously, it's not a priority for the leader. So why should I do right so if your leader is not part of the training, if you leaders that attend the NADA University was sending, you know, go into some other courses, right or some other seminars or webinars, then you know, employees can see that you know, they're not one

Terry Lancaster
Yeah. So, um, let me ask you this, um, the deal they were with with with interest rates skyrocketing right now they're, they're going up and maybe they're leveling off right now, but everything's going up. And we've had a trend for longer term, longer term finance packages for for cars, which it which impacts recidivism, how do you get people back? How do you structure a deal so that you get that customer back and in the market? sooner and get this generational thing that we're talking about? How do you make deals turn? How can f&i Make the deals turn faster?

Max Zanan
So when it comes to new cars, I think you really need to focus on leasing. Leasing by definition is a short term loan. Right? And it's usually 36 months, 39 months, you know, sometimes it's even 27 or 18 months. Right? So you can increase this customer turnover. Right when it comes to financing, right, even though was 96 month terms available. You're not doing any favors to your customers by putting them in a 96 month right because they will be so upside down. You know, When are they coming back? You know, what is this negative equity going away? year seven, you know, you're basically turning them into last time buyers


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Who the %@#! is Terry Lancaster?

I help car dealers and salespeople sell more cars, make more money, get more reviews, more referrals, and more repeat business by building deeper, stronger, more authentic relationships. I’ve worked with thousands of dealer principals, managers, and salespeople providing proven strategies for making the cash register ring.

Over the years, I've helped thousands of dealers sell millions of cars by putting the right words in the right order to tell the right story. How can I help you tell yours?

My #1 best selling books BETTER! & How To Sell More Cars have received glowing reviews from around the world thanking me for the actionable, life-changing ideas they present.

I’ve been featured in Automotive News & Forbes, spoken at the NADA national convention and from the TedX stage, and came in second place at my Eighth Grade debate championship.

Winner Winner. Chicken Dinner!

In my personal life, I've survived Cancer... twice. I've had a gun held to my head and a knife held to my throat. I've been inside a building that was hit by a tornado, onboard one boat that sank and two planes that I was sure were about to crash. 

I lived through three teenage daughters and I've been married over 35 years... in a row!

When I'm not battling for truth, justice and the American Way, I spend most of my free time, like every other middle-aged, overweight, native southerner, at the ice rink playing hockey.

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