DONNA HARRIS

Note to F&I managers: You’re more than clerks

Donna Harris covers automotive retailing for Automotive News

Some finance managers are being trained to introduce themselves as the one who is “just going to complete the paperwork for the transaction.”

This introduction is meant to put the customer at ease. You’re not the big, bad wizard of finance and insurance — you’re just the guy behind the curtain.

Finance and insurance is a complex business, to be sure. The mere mention of it causes the average person’s eyes to glaze over. And many people have feared math since they were kids.

So it’s easy to see why trainers might advise F&I managers to introduce themselves humbly. They don’t want to intimidate the customer.

But this introduction is a bit too humble. It portrays the F&I manager as nothing more than a clerk.

The whole reason dealerships need an F&I department is because it takes someone with training and expertise to sell products, deal with contracts, and do it in a way that complies with federal and state laws.

You folks are managers, not clerks. If you communicate clearly, make the necessary legal disclosures and have a businesslike manner, you needn’t worry about intimidating your customers.

And you shouldn’t have to downplay your role. You can sell product without underselling yourself.

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