James B. Treece
James B. Treece
News Editor

A video can be your best F&I defense

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LAS VEGAS -- Several panelists here at last week’s Industry Summit, an annual F&I conference, endorsed videotaping all F&I presentations. Some cited it as a means of monitoring whether F&I managers presented all products to all customers while others said videos helped in training.

F&I managers might be uncomfortable with those reasons. After all, monitoring and future training make it sound as if sessions are being taped to be used against the manager.

I think dealerships should give F&I managers another reason for videos: defending the dealership, and the F&I manager, if a customer sues.

It reminds me of an effort my wife and I once made to put a youth-protection program in place at our church, based on the Boy Scouts’ superb youth-protection rules. It wasn’t going to be as stringent -- youth directors at the church wouldn’t have to undergo automatic criminal background checks the way I had to when I signed up to be an adult Scout leader -- but some of the rules would be the same, including one against an adult meeting in private one-on-one with a youth. (If you aren’t familiar with the Scouts’ program, believe me, it’s strict and rightly so.)

The rules made some folks at church uncomfortable. Did they imply we didn’t trust the youth group’s leaders? No, I said, they protect those leaders.

I cited a case at another church, where a girl had made an accusation against the pastor that had torn the church and its reputation apart. The pastor eventually was proved innocent. The girl had used the accusation to get authorities to start investigating her case, and, in fact, it was her father who was abusing her. She just couldn’t accuse her father publicly.

Sometimes false accusations are made. If videos are presented as a way for F&I staffers to be able to defend themselves, taping will get a more favorable reception.

You can reach James B. Treece at jtreece@crain.com.

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