Clint McJenkins is grateful that the store he runs, Tuscaloosa Hyundai, outperforms the market on new-car sales. But he acknowledges lousy conditions are dragging down the central Alabama dealership's finance and insurance operations.
"We've lost our dedicated F&I staff," says McJenkins, who is both general manager and F&I manager. "The opportunity to make a living at this just went away."
McJenkins has lots of company. F&I profits are down at five of every eight U.S. auto stores, dealers say in an Automotive News survey.
Half of the 122 dealers who responded to financial-results questions in the online survey say their current F&I profits are down between 1 and 50 percent compared with September 2008.
F&I profits are off even more than 50 percent, say 12 percent of dealers. Or flat, say 15 percent.
But despite the worst auto sales in decades, 23 percent of survey takers say they have managed to boost F&I profits from last September.
The survey was conducted Sept. 25-27 and is unscientific because responses are not random. A total of 166 dealers responded. They identified 28 different marques as their best-selling brands, led by Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Toyota and Nissan.