It has several advantages, Rikess says. There are the cost savings of having no F&I staffers and managers. And salespeople can earn more money by receiving a percentage of the F&I revenue, he says. That tends to lower turnover and help stores attract more, and better educated, sales consultants.
"It's really taking off," Rikess says of the trend. Other stores and groups that have adopted the process, Rikess said, include Walser Automotive Group in the Minneapolis area and Mullinax Group in Florida and Alabama.
Bill Marsh Automotive is like most groups that use sales consultants for F&I, Rikess says. That is, the group has a no-haggle, one-price approach to pricing vehicles.
With price not a point of contention, O'Connor says, his sales consultants are empowered to take the customer through the entire buying process without having to check in with managers. That makes it natural for them to take them through F&I as well, he says.
Bill Marsh Automotive Group sells Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Hyundai, Buick, GMC and Ford vehicles. The group sells 375 to 450 new and used vehicles a month.
O'Connor says he offered all four of his F&I employees sales consultant jobs in 2010 as he prepared for the 2011 launch of the new process.
Three initially took the jobs and one left. Over time, though, all have left the company, O'Connor says.
The group also has a Ford store in nearby Kalkaska, Mich., acquired in late 2009, that has not yet transitioned finance and insurance to the new model. That's because one 30-year F&I manager handles that end of the business on the 80 new and used vehicles the store sells each month, O'Connor says.