Asbury Automotive Group Inc. has vaulted its finance and insurance revenue back up over $1,000 per vehicle -- its first time above that milestone since 2008.
During the second quarter, Asbury saw its F&I revenue per light vehicle retailed jump 20 percent to $1,015 on a same-store basis. Asbury COO Michael Kearney said the retailer aims to stay above that $1,000 mark and even improve.
"You can always do better," Kearney told Automotive News.
How did Asbury accomplish the rebound?
"F&I continues to benefit from increased product sales, improved consumer credit, consistent rates from our lenders and our focus on training of our F&I personnel on best practices," Kearney said.
Banks are lending a larger portion of a vehicle's price, which frees up more cash that the customer can spend on F&I products, he said. And sales of service contracts and prepaid maintenance plans -- Asbury's two highest-volume products -- have risen.
There is more flexibility from lenders to finance those two products, Kearney said.
"They are a product that's refundable in the event of a default," he said. "It's a product that's valuable to the consumer and brings them back to the dealership."
One of Asbury's major tactics to keep improving F&I results is the expansion of a so-called boot camp training program. The boot camp includes Web-based training for every F&I manager.
The managers are rated on several productivity measures, and more training is done for areas in which improvement is needed.
If an employee's performance doesn't rise to benchmark standards, the employee will go through a more rigorous round of one-on-one training using videotape and interactive approaches.
Asbury is seeing better results as that training reaches deeper into the retailer's network, Kearney said. It started in Florida and is now operating in Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina with plans to expand to Texas soon.
It's in "a little more than 60 percent of our stores today," Kearney said. Asbury plans to make that 100 percent by the end of the year.