Why women make good F&I managers

Jim Henry is a special correspondent for Automotive News

Why should there be more women behind the F&I desk at dealerships?

The biggest reason is that they connect better with other women, especially female customers, said speakers this month during Automotive News F&I Week, a series of six Webinars. Replays are free and available at fandiweek.com.

“Women influence over 80 percent of all car-buying decisions,” said Kelly Wadlinger, Fiat Studio lead at Faulkner Fiat of Harrisburg, Pa. “If women [customers] prefer to work with other women, why not give your department that advantage right off the bat?”

Wadlinger, who does both sales and F&I at the dealership, spoke on “Women in F&I.” She said that besides being good at sales and establishing relationships, women make good F&I managers because they tend to be team players. They’re also process-driven and detail-oriented, she said.

Speaker George Angus, head trainer at Team One Group, agreed and went a step further during one question-and-answer session.

“There are more and more women coming into the business because they tend to be more honest and follow a process, and you don’t have to worry what they’re doing in that office,” he said. “Now, that may sound chauvinist or sexist, or the reverse, but the point is that honesty has got to be a requirement in this industry today.”

Not all audience members accepted all speakers’ points of view.

One audience member submitted a comment calling Wadlinger’s remarks “sexist.” Another, a woman who said she had been in the business 25 years, found Wadlinger’s comments “offensive” and suggested that men would, too.

But Wadlinger didn’t back down. “Men and women absolutely have different sets of skills, and I think that women have a tendency toward people skills,” she said. “But we also have a tendency to be able to be excellent salespeople.”

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@crain.com

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