Asbury targets underperformers, training as F&I gains stall

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Asbury Automotive Group CFO Keith Style spelled out in some detail last week how the company’s improvement in average F&I revenues per vehicle retailed has stalled so far this year.

“The last five years we were up about 100 bucks per car each and every year,” rising to an average F&I revenue per vehicle of $1,308 in 2013 from $896 in 2009, he said during a presentation at the 2014 J.P. Morgan Auto Conference in New York.

For the first half of 2014, though, the group’s average F&I revenue per vehicle was $1,308, an improvement of only about $9 from the first half of 2013 and flat with the average for all of 2013. For the second quarter, Asbury reported average F&I revenue per vehicle of $1,308, up 0.2 percent from the 2013 quarter.

Lithia, Penske lead growth
Among the six public new-car retailers, only Lithia and Penske posted a higher percentage gain in F&I revenue per vehicle retailed in the second quarter than they did in the 2013 period.
 F&I revenue per vehicle
 Q2 2014 changeQ2 2013 change
Lithia9.4%4.0%
Penske7.4%3.3%
Group 16.7%9.8%
Sonic5.5%7.4%
AutoNation1.7%7.7%
Asbury0.2%9.5%
   
Source: Company reports

All six publicly traded new-car groups showed improvement in F&I revenue per vehicle retailed in the second quarter this year versus the 2013 quarter. But only Penske Automotive Group and Lithia Motors Inc. posted a higher percentage increase than they did in last year’s period.

Like other publicly traded auto retailers, Asbury will continue to concentrate on squeezing improvements out of its bottom performers in F&I revenue per vehicle retailed, Style said.

Specifically, he said, the company will increase training in F&I product presentations. Asbury wants to increase sales penetration for F&I products, which already account for 62 percent of F&I revenue, the company said.

“There’s a lot of variability inside our business as far as performance,” Style said. “We need to train, train, train on our bottom third, and we expect to be able to drive this number up in the future.”

Asbury ranks No. 7 on the Automotive News list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups with retail sales of 86,685 new vehicles in 2013. Penske ranks No. 2, with 199,795 new units sold at retail, and Lithia ranks No. 8, with 67,177.

You can reach Jim Henry at autonews@crain.com.

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