The preparation that Blasius Chevrolet-Cadillac did is quite different from Chris Walsh's experience.
Walsh was a finance manager and later the general manager at Newman Chevrolet in East Hartford, Conn. He worked there from 1983 to 2005.
In 2003, the owner started major renovations on the store, Walsh says. But no one stopped to consider where to put the finance manager's office, Walsh says.
"There was a lot of noise and dust from the renovations," he recalls.
Walsh knew he had a problem when "my F&I manager, who was the nicest guy in the world, came into my office and said, 'I can't work this way anymore.'"
Walsh says he also had a couple customers say, "I can't concentrate."
"We didn't have anybody walk out, but were people distracted? Yes, absolutely."
Walsh portioned off an alcove near the back of the showroom for his finance manager. It was a solution he calls "a Band-Aid."
"Had we thought about this prior to doing the construction, we wouldn't have put him there," Walsh says. "I never want to go through it again. Contractors need to know that F&I is so important because it's a legal issue. Once contractors know that, they often comply."
Walsh, now president of the Vets-Cars Group in East Haddam, Conn., an association of dealers whose goal is to give superior service to military veterans, advises dealers to be prepared to move the F&I office at least once during construction. And dealers should meet frequently with the contractor.
"It needs to be communicated to the contractor that the F&I office is not only one of the biggest revenue makers, but due to compliance and regulations the fact that it has to be quiet and private is critical," Walsh says.
He adds: "A well thought out plan starts with the F&I office.