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Why F&I manager turnover is high

The latest NADA workforce study again found that F&I managers are making more money than any other employees at dealerships save general managers.

So it surprised me when the study showed that the median length of time F&I managers stay on the job is three years. That’s the shortest amount of time for manager positions.

Of the nine dealership positions covered in the 2015 study, released last week, only two had a shorter median tenure than F&I managers: service consultants at 1.5 years and service advisers at 2.4 years.

Turnover is also highest for F&I managers at 36.7 percent, up 5 points from the year earlier.

I wondered why. Most of the reason, I learned, is that F&I managers are prime candidates for general manager positions. F&I is a “primary picking spot” for general manager and general sales manager positions, Tony Dupaquier, director of the Academy at Service Group, told me last week.

And the F&I office is where dealers should look to fill their general manager positions, Dupaquier said. Here’s why:

• F&I managers are consistent and reliable. They generally don’t bounce around like dealership employees in other positions do, Dupaquier said. When they stay in their positions, they become obvious choices to become general managers at their current dealerships or at other stores.

• F&I managers are pros at making a profit. They are experts at financing their customers. Their goals are to give customers a deal while still making the dealership substantial profit. That balance can translate into overall dealership finance responsibilities.

• F&I managers know the law. Much of the regulatory crackdown in the past few years has been about transactions that happen in the F&I office. Because of that, F&I managers are well-versed in the legalities that apply to dealerships, and most have solid compliance strategies that could extend through the entire dealership.

• F&I managers are committed. They’re accustomed to working long hours and juggling many tasks, which would make for a smooth transition to general manager.

Given that analysis, the high turnover rate and short tenure for F&I managers makes more sense. The position is used as a launch pad to further growth.

You can reach Hannah Lutz at hlutz@crain.com

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