Why is your best closer doing admin work?
Troussov: "Have professionals close deals and sell products."
F&I trainer Tony Troussov says dealerships looking to close deals faster and more smoothly need to get sales and F&I working together more effectively, with fewer awkward turnovers.
He says stores can adopt a range of solutions. Some are simple, such as preparing complete deal jackets ahead of time, and some are complex, such as training salespeople to handle F&I, too.
Troussov, director of training for Automotive Development Group in Eden Prairie, Minn., is scheduled to lead the workshop "Eliminate the F&I Bottleneck for Good" at the NADA convention in Orlando Feb. 8-10.
He spoke with Special Correspondent Jim Henry.
How do you speed things up?
My workshop starts from a lot of commonsense things people can do, yet you see dealerships all the time where they're not doing it. Like having a pre-made deal jacket with all the right forms in it. As soon as the customer says yes, you see the customer waiting while the salesman is running around getting the right forms together. As far as the customer is concerned, the moment they said yes, that's when their clock starts ticking.
What about in F&I?
When you come to F&I, it's often that there are so many different sites -- the DMS [dealer management system], DealerTrack or RouteOne, a title site, service contract lookup, and none of them communicates with the other.
You see somebody doing the data entry over and over, and if you ask them, they tell you: "This one doesn't talk with that one."
If they're not integrated, if the dealership hasn't taken the trouble to get all its systems talking with each other -- or maybe they have older systems and it would take an investment to upgrade and get all those systems talking to each other -- that slows things down. You'd be surprised; a lot of stores have all those pieces, but they're not integrated.
Data entry itself can be a problem.
For some of them it's typing skill, or lack of typing skill -- the guys who are typing with two fingers and everybody's laughing at him all the time. That's a real disadvantage when it comes to closing deals. These seem like obvious things, but they get overlooked sometimes.
Is the idea to get transactions done faster, or to use the same amount of time better?
Both. On average, the finance manager spends 30 to 38 minutes of face time per customer, per transaction. The rest of the time, they're really tied up with administration stuff.
The finance manager is running around titling a vehicle. I was at a dealership yesterday, a 75 unit-per-month store, and it kind of slows everything else down.
This is one of your best at selling, and he's doing titling, making sure all the stips are done. [That is, stipulations on a loan to get it approved, such as adding a co-signer.]
Yeah, that's important. But why do we have our best closer -- usually the best salespeople in the dealership, that's how they get to be a finance manager in the first place -- why do we have them doing admin work?
Would you have someone else do the paperwork?
Have professionals close deals and sell products. Have a trained admin person, who can type faster and who knows all the requirements, do what I call the Mickey Mouse work. The deals get done faster, and all these finance managers will do is sell products.
Basically it's separating the administration from the sales function in F&I and introducing an additional admin person.
Isn't that just adding another turnover?
Not necessarily. I've seen it done where the admin person takes all the paperwork, and the F&I manager is the only one who deals directly with the customer.
Customers complain about too many turnovers, don't they?
If I look at how the turnover is processed from the salesperson to F&I ... I think the average would be one or two, maybe three out of 10 salespeople do an excellent job of turning over. The majority of salespeople are terrible at it.
The majority of F&I managers think: "Oh well, that's just the way it is," and they put it on the sales manager to train his people. But most F&I managers don't get involved in the transaction early. They sit in their offices, and they miss opportunities on the showroom floor.
The F&I manager can't be: "Oh, I'm part of a different team." No. Go out of your office and get involved early. It will improve the flow of the deal and it will improve your numbers.
What about hybrid salespeople?
There are also hybrid salespeople, where the finance office has basically eliminated the F&I as we know it today. That provides an opportunity for the customer to deal with one salesperson for both. That creates a better connection with the customer, but it requires a lot of training and a lot of commitment.
I run into a lot of small stores where you're almost forced to have a hybrid manager, where everybody is sharing duties and responsibilities.
The majority of trainers dislike the idea of hybrid sales managers because the results just aren't there. But it can work if you're hiring the right individuals as well as a pay plan that's conducive to that.
It's not going to change to this tomorrow. It won't work for everybody. It's not a solution for everyone. It's a culture change. It has to come from the top.