Dealer Carl Keegan lets finance and insurance managers take risks and make mistakes.
And that's made all the difference at his store, Orange Motors in Albany, N.Y.
"We push the envelope and go for maximizing the profit but also maximizing the customer's experience," says Steven Myers, senior finance manager at Orange Motors.
With 95 years in business, Orange Motors recently made its F&I office the key profit center of the business, Keegan says. And it has done it with the help of Myers, a once homeless man, who devised a way to make the sales and F&I forces one team with the sole focus of boosting F&I revenue.
Myers and his boss, Frank Diantonio, stoked that team spirit with a plan devised early last year. They hold frequent training sessions; they adjusted pay plans that give salespeople more back-end commission; and they have a new, streamlined menu-selling process.
The result: The dealership, which sells Ford and Mazda, sells 60 to 70 of Ford's extended-service contract a month.
And its F&I office consistently brings in $150,000 or more in sales each month -- up 20 percent from a year earlier. Orange Motors sells about 3,600 new and used vehicles annually.
Myers, 38, recalls a defining moment that prompted him to devise the plan that's leading the F&I sales success today.
The F&I team was pulling in around $120,000 a month in F&I sales, Myers says. But boss Keegan turned up the heat.
"He said, 'Great job, but I need another $30,000 in sales a month,'" Myers says. "I thought: 'What the heck am I gonna do?' So I looked at our system to figure out what we can do to make that happen."
Last fall Myers started urging his bosses to have the finance team hold weekly 15-minute sessions. In the meetings, they review the sales data and hash out ideas to improve customer service and increase revenue, Myers says.
Myers, a high school dropout, often leads the meetings. He applies lessons he acquired from Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University while learning how to get out of his personal debt.
"It's completely revolutionized my life," Myers says. "But what it's about isn't the money. Everything in life is about relationships with people."