During her first week in the finance department of her family's Ford dealership in Perry, Mich., Angela Falzon made several boneheaded beginner's mistakes. She is the daughter of owner Joe Falzon and had spent her life around the store, but finance and insurance was way outside her comfort zone.
"The first week I let a customer leave with their unprocessed title, signed another customer at an APR that didn't exist and sold nothing in terms of back-end product. I was terrified of every customer. I was dealing with all this money and I didn't know what to do with it. I left crying most days and felt like a total failure," recalls Falzon.
But she persevered. Under her leadership as business manager, Signature Ford of Perry has increased its per-vehicle revenue on F&I products from nearly zero to $700-$1,200.
Through those early mistakes, Falzon realized she needed training if she was going to master the F&I side of the business.
She took some courses and from them developed a menu-based system. She soon realized Signature Ford was letting many revenue opportunities slide. Now Falzon joins the conversation between the customer and the salesperson during the sales process to get a sense of what F&I products would be suitable for that customer.
Some salespeople initially resented her approach. One reason for that resentment, she admits, was that she suffered from what she calls "dealer's-kid syndrome." And because she's young, she has to work extra hard to gain respect.
"I'm 25, and I look it," she says with a laugh.
She says she won the sales staff's respect by working "with my dad to construct their pay plan so they get a cut of the F&I profit."
Falzon hadn't planned on a career at her dad's dealership. She majored in political science in college and has a second degree in nursing.
After college she agreed to come back to the dealership and help out in the finance department until a permanent business manager could be found.
Nursing and political science no longer appeal. "I'm now addicted," she says. "This business is in my blood."
-- Bradford Wernle