Breaching boundaries can be good

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

The next F&I frontier lies just outside the finance office door -- literally.

More and more, dealerships are asking F&I managers to step away from their desks and onto the showroom floor to meet and establish rapport with customers earlier in the sales process.

At Asbury Automotive Group, preparing managers for more face time with customers is a big aspect of F&I training.

"If there's one piece of it that overrides everything else, it's training on integrating the business office process with the selling process, making sure the sales managers and the (F&I) desk managers are fully engaged" from the time customers are greeted at the door, Asbury COO Michael Kearney said in a phone interview last week.

The traditional model in which the salesman accompanies the customer on the long, dreaded walk to the F&I office seems increasingly artificial and off-putting.

Empowering F&I managers to breach showroom boundaries is a good idea.

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