I'm hearing more about dealers who are turning over the sale of finance and insurance products to their salespeople and getting rid of the separate F&I department.
The goal is understandable. Some are doing it to save on labor costs. Others believe it creates a more customer-friendly process, since the customer doesn't get bounced around from salesperson to sales manager to F&I manager.
But Donald Freese, a special agent for the FBI who spoke at the recent National Automotive Finance Association conference in Fort Worth, Texas, warned that axing the F&I department could be risky.
He told me that when dealers take away the F&I manager, they put sensitive customer information in the hands of more people at the dealership. That can promote identity theft.
So, dealers, if you're thinking about merging the F&I and sales positions, consider the potential consequences.
It might be a smart move -- or not.