Calling All Ostriches

It’s a myth that an ostrich buries its head in the sand. It merely seems like it when viewed from a distance.

The ostrich is really digging a hole in which to lay its head and long neck flat, in an attempt to disguise itself like a mound of sand when it can’t outrun its enemy.

I’ve concluded too many of today’s F&I managers are digging themselves holes. Not to hide from customers, but to bury their training manuals and all they’ve learned in workshop sessions. Why don’t more dealers embrace training… “it’s imperative we implement ongoing education once the F&I manager returns from a workshop or in-dealership consultation”.

I recently held an advanced workshop on the steps required to make a sale in F&I. It had a prerequisite: managers must have attended a 3-day workshop on menu selling principles.

Within an hour, I realized most attendees had completely forgotten the material from the first class. How was this possible? It was as if they never attended day one class! I had to assume they had buried the training manual in a drawer the minute they returned to the dealership.

Few had implemented the methods they had learned and few cared enough to find the manual and bring it to the advanced training session. If you don’t take yourself seriously how do you expect your customers will? You want to be a leader in the pack but you refuse to do what it takes to drive performance! It takes a consistent sales presentation approach and dedication to your profession.

They thought they knew it all, and were disinclined to change course. Unlike the ostrich, who knows when it’s better to hide in the sand, rather than trying to outrun its enemy, they preferred to stick to the old ways that have serious drawbacks.

Let’s review some F&I strategies and issues.

The Interview

I strongly support the pre-sales interview. How do you offer valued based products or overcome objections if you don’t know anything about the customer? Nothing is better than face to face… “based on what you told me earlier”. Never assume always get the customer to tell you how to sell them!

Dealers and finance managers complain that sales are off and profits sliding downward faster than an Olympic luge. Yet far too many of them ignore using their past training and don’t require follow-ups instruction. The irony is if you would simply practice and implement a consistent upfront sales process your production would increase significantly. Too many are trying to find the short cut… guess what there are no short cuts or quick schemes; it takes hard word and determination to achieve results… and it’s happening all over the country!

Some who’ve attended training workshops say the problem with their personal failure belongs with the facilitator who couldn’t hold their attention long enough for them to learn anything. This may occasionally be true.

A good workshop provides several easy, practical and effective steps to increase sales and profits. In order to see results in their dealership profits, however, attendees must change their attitudes and implement the proven methods.

Implementing Change

If you attend a training workshop, your time will be wasted and money misspent, if you don’t implement the suggested changes. Why don’t you practice the word-tracks… they wouldn’t be “word-tracks” if they didn’t work for someone else. We copy those who are successful! An actor knows their script they never leave home without it… unless they don’t want the part. Al Pacino, “say hello to my little friend”.

If your doctor tells you to lose weight or you’ll suffer dire consequences, you’ll heed his advice. It would be foolish to do otherwise.

If your golf instructor gives you three hints on how to drastically improve the swing, you’ll practice until you have mastered it. You believe practice makes perfect.

The same holds true of F&I training. If you ignore the material provided, you shouldn’t be surprised to find that nothing changes in your performance.

Worn-out and ineffective procedures won’t magically produce galloping profits. Do you wonder why you can’t increase your per-vehicle-retailed or product index performance? Do you wonder why you have poor customer satisfaction scores?

How can you show the value of your products if you can’t accurately describe them? How long has it been since you thoroughly read your product agreements or your finance and lease agreements? When was the last time you sat with your bank or product reps?

Some low performing F&I managers aren’t fully knowledgeable about their products wouldn’t know what covered what, but still present them. They can’t show value, so they discount. When nothing works, they blame the economy.

Compliance

Compliance is not a dirty word. Several F&I managers have told me the industry has made too much of this “compliance thing.” Consider CFBP and the FTC and if you don’t know what that is I suggest you find out.

They know of no one who has gone to jail for deceptive practices. Of course these are the same managers who complain about reduced sales and profits and the loss of a significant number of customers. It’s time to rethink the way you’ve been doing business. “We’ve been doing business like this for fifty years”… this mindset is poison!

Their dealerships may not have been fined for lack of compliance – yet. But they shouldn’t assume their customers haven’t figured it out and are staying away.

Thanks to sales tactics, they are on extended terms and buried beneath thousands of dollars with no hope in sight. Where are the car deals? The deals are sitting in driveways across the nation.

Sixty percent of your customers are buried in debt and the banks are no longer helping you with those high advances. So what do you do now?

Some thought those 84-month term deals were great. And took advantage of those outdated customer-packing payments, and hid terms and rates.This practice is not only deceptive, it’s stealing.

Why have you had to resort to outdated and deceptive methods to achieve profits? Because you don’t know how to be upfront and sell the value of the products. It’s easier to extend out the term then to discuss why the value of the product outweighs the cost in the customer’s mind. Once credibility is lost, it’s seldom regained. That’s a risk no dealership should take.

Keep Learning- Reach for The Stars

Education doesn’t come only from a college classroom. Dealership sales education is available in training workshops that specialize in the subject matter.

It’s not too late to learn fresh sales techniques to present your products and finance options, to gain a more understanding of why the customer interview is vital before beginning the process, or to understand why compliance is essential.

It’s no secret that the automotive industry is changing rapidly. Online virtual dealerships are gaining ground and may soon be commonplace. With the iPad, iPhone… it’s all going mobile… your “box” is changing are you?

They offer your customers “truth” and “compliance” and use various means to win them over. They describe your menu products in detail and offer “fair” and “competitive” prices.

What can you do? Take steps to understand other sales methods upfront selling techniques that increases your performance while adhering to customer satisfaction.

Don’t become an ostrich and bury your training manuals-educations is critical. Don’t ignore the effects of changing times. F&I Training is essential in today’s environment! Transparent sales behavior wins more customers and increases overall profits without jeopardizing your good name.

Although an ostrich prefers to run away, it has powerful legs and can kill a lion with one swift kick.

Kick your decreasing sales and profit problems by confronting them. Keep learning and then put into action what you learned.