F&I jobs hold a powerful lure for women

It seems women are keen to work in the finance and insurance department.

In fact, F&I has the highest percentage of women employees in a dealership, after the office/administration department.

Women make up 92 percent of the office/administration staff at dealerships, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association’s 2014 Dealership Workforce Study Industry Report, released Dec. 3.

Its 2013 data showed that of total active payroll employees, 18 percent were women. That was unchanged from 2012.

But “we were seeing more women in the F&I function,” said Ted Kraybill, president of ESI Trends, the Largo, Fla., firm that compiled the study for NADA.

Mired in patriarchy

In 2013, women comprised 20 percent of all F&I jobs. Those include managers, producers and assistants, Kraybill said. That was up 1 percentage point over 2012.

That total sounds insignificant, but compared with the number of women in sales and service, it’s stunning.

Women made up just 4 percent of sales managers last year and held only 9 percent of all sales consultant jobs, Kraybill said. Those figures are unchanged from 2012, meaning dealers are not making progress in hiring women to sell cars or promoting them to manage sales.

In service, women comprise about 17 percent of service advisers, up from 15 percent in 2012. Yet they make up only about 6 percent of service managers and less than 1 percent of technicians, the data said. Both are about flat year over year.

I am sure this is frustrating. Many dealers I speak to say they want to hire more women, specifically to sell cars. Yet they struggle to recruit, hire and keep them, especially in sales. Kraybill blames the fact that many showrooms are stuck in a predominantly patriarchal culture that women find unappealing.

And while women take an interest in and often excel at service advisory work, most do not want to “turn a wrench,” Kraybill said.

Show me the money

But jobs in the F&I department seem to draw and hold the interest of women.

Compared with sales, the turnover rate in the F&I department is fairly low -- and nearly the same for each gender.

Last year, the average turnover rate in F&I was 25 percent for men and 27 percent for women, Kraybill said. Yet in sales, he said, the turnover rate was 60 percent for men and a whopping 78 percent for women.

Patriarchal culture aside, I believe the bottom line is the basis of women’s fascination with F&I.

The average sales manager’s pay in 2013 was $122,005. The average pay for a sales consultant at a nonluxury brand was $58,773.

A lube technician starts off earning an average of $29,700 a year. Kraybill said a full service technician’s average pay is $55,100. The service adviser earns an average compensation of $69,994.

But the average F&I manager’s pay came in at a whopping $126,778.

That’s motivation enough to make any woman keen to work in F&I.

You can reach Jamie LaReau at jlareau@crain.com -- Follow Jamie on Twitter: @jlareauan

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