When Ford Motor Co. offered dealers free training to sell finance and insurance products in 2010, Joel Higley turned it down.
He had hired his own F&I trainer the year before.
"I would have done [Ford's program], but I got a little proactive because I needed to do something fast," says Higley, owner of Higley Ford Sales in Windom, Minn.
In 2009 Higley's average per-vehicle F&I revenue for new and used cars was a dismal $198, far below the $600 average of those in his NADA 20 Group. But by the end of 2012, Higley's average had rocketed to $658, putting him in third place in the group.
Higley's success is the result of several changes. He
- Took the time and spent the money to train his F&I manager.
- Established a proper turnover process from the sales department to the F&I office.
- Rewarded vehicle sales staffers who generated an F&I sale by following that process.
- Reviewed customer rejections of F&I products to devise a future approach.
- Kept F&I product offerings small and simple.
- Sold extended service contracts in the service lane.
- Pushed premium extended service contracts more often.
Higley's success inspired other stores, such as Gene Steffy Ford in Columbus, Neb., to adopt some of his practices.
"We always used the excuse we're a small store, we don't have the volume to support F&I," says owner Joe Steffensmeier. "He's a small store, and he was a lot more successful than us."
Gene Steffy Ford sells 400 to 500 new and used vehicles a year. Higley Ford sells about 380 new and used vehicles a year.
"We knew we were then capable of it, too," Steffensmeier says. Indeed, Steffensmeier says he doubled his per-vehicle F&I revenue since the end of 2011.
"You don't have to add a big new showroom. F&I is right there, and if you get the people and the process in place, it makes a big difference," Steffensmeier says.