JAMIE LaREAU

Readers take me to task

Jamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive NewsJamie LaReau covers auto dealers for Automotive News
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“Not easily dispelled or discouraged.”

That’s the definition of “tenacious.”

And there ought to be a photo of a finance and insurance manager beside that definition.

Take my blog last week. I discussed how the 2 percent hike in the payroll tax will mean smaller paychecks for many Americans this year. In turn, that might make it tougher to sell F&I products because some consumers won’t have an additional $50 or more a month to spend on extras. But, I concluded, it would be interesting to see how F&I managers would find a way around this roadblock.

Indeed it was interesting, to say the least.

The blog garnered more than a dozen dissenting comments from F&I managers on Facebook’s Ethical F&I Managers page.

Most managers politely, but doggedly, argued that tough economic times are nothing new to them, yet they always rise above the challenges to achieve F&I sales success.

As one unbowed F&I manager wrote: “The reduced take home and therefore discretionary pay is actually a boon to a professional F&I manager. It means in reality that the consumer is even LESS able to self-insure or to be able to out-of-pocket afford those potential expenses.”

These poorer consumers will see more clearly the value in products such as extended-service contracts and wheel-and-tire protection, he insisted.

Another manager tested a sales pitch on me after I commented in the posts that $895 for wheel-and-tire protection is a lot of money.

“If that $895 saves a consumer from having to come out of pocket a thousand dollars to replace a tire and wheel then it was worth it, right?” wrote the manager.

In fact, the frenzied discussion compelled the first F&I manager to make a bold prediction: F&I sales will have a “banner” year in 2013 — precisely because people have less income.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com. -- Follow Jamie on Twitter

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