Helping solve the compliance puzzle
Jennings: "Every piece in compliance needs to be covered and needs to be implemented. ... One piece of the puzzle can bring the whole show down."
Teaching F&I managers and other dealership employees to comply with a growing list of state and federal laws is the No. 1 priority this year for GSFSGroup's training business.
That's according to Ray Jennings, newly promoted training director for the Houston-based, privately owned F&I product vendor.
Training is a major business area for GSFSGroup, also known as Gulf States Financial Services. Besides compliance, major F&I training areas include menu selling, customer interviews, overcoming customer objections and managing the turnover from sales to F&I. The company also offers training in sales and service.
Jennings joined GSFSGroup's training division in 2007. He also had his own training company as well as worked in the training division of Ford Motor Co. He spoke with Automotive News Special Correspondent Jim Henry.
What's your priority for 2013?
Compliance is our big push this year.
Is there one new law that makes compliance training so timely?
Every piece in compliance needs to be covered and needs to be implemented -- anybody at the dealership who has contact with the customer, anybody at the dealership who has contact with customer data. One piece of the puzzle can bring the whole show down. It's that important.
How important is training for GSFS?
Training is huge -- huge. It's very, very significant to GSFS operations, and it's a big part of who we are.
What's your approach to offsite training?
Workshops where you're there in person are always going to be there. It's valuable to get people out of the stores, out of their environment, to give them the opportunity to truly open their minds and listen to new techniques.
In a truly solid workshop, people can actually apply what they've learned. We do role-playing where the entire class gets involved.
How it's evolving is, instead of Houston and our site in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, we're taking training to other locations. If you have to travel too much it's hard to get people there.
What about online?
You have to look at the other piece, which is sustaining what people have learned. We developed in-dealership training programs. Online and with two-way video we can role-play. We can give product training there. We can see them, and they can see us. That's going to help us sustain training.
A lot of what we do is based on customer feedback.
How do you measure customer feedback? And who's your customer, the dealer or the end user?
It's both. A lot of it is from the surveys the manufacturers get back. We look at what the manufacturers get, especially with regard to finance. We also watch interactions with customers and dealership personnel. Sometimes customers e-mail the dealerships; sometimes they e-mail the manufacturer.
Customers today are extremely intelligent. They have a lot of information. They just want to know that what they're being told is straightforward and sincere and honest.
You can reach Jim Henry at email@example.com.