FORT WORTH, Texas — Training in the F&I office at the dealership is pivotal, but it can be a challenge for dealers and lenders due to the position’s high turnover rate, industry experts told attendees at PowerSports Finance 2018.
“We went through 18 F&I producers in one store in a year — 18 that came in trained,” said Brad Van Horn, owner of Buy Your Motorcycles. “And it’s because they would come in and then all of a sudden, Ewing Chevrolet would call them and say, ‘Hey, we’re gonna pay you stupid money,’ and [the producer] goes, ‘See you,’ and leaves.”
In the F&I office, powersports is viewed as the beginning of a career path. An F&I manager in a motorcycle dealership might move on to an auto dealership and become a general manager. This leaves the dealership vulnerable, especially if there is no one else in the store who can handle basic financing. However, a way to counter that turnover is to make sure that managers are happy and have all the tools they need to be successful.
“The F&I office is the most profitable per square foot in the dealership,” said Chase Vance, regional operations manager of Freedom Powersports. “Why would you not want to pour all your resources into that? If you can’t afford for your F&I manager to be gone for even a week, then you’ve got a staffing issue, because that means your sales manager or your general manager should be able to go in there and at least do an average, at best, job of doing it.”
While the dealership is responsible for managing its staff through all levels of the position, that doesn’t mean that the lender can’t do everything in its power to help, Kristi Mercier, director of operations for ThunderRoad Financial, told attendees.
“As a lender, if a dealer loses an F&I person or an F&I person is struggling on my deals, it is my responsibility to be on the phone with you having that conversation,” Mercier said. “I’ll be the first one to pick up the phone and say, ‘I haven’t seen a deal from you in 30 days, what’s going on? Who needs help?'”