For example, Service Group charges $849 for F&I management training, and the College of Automotive Management in Santa Ana, Calif., charges $2,495. Both cost considerably less than the $12,000, excluding room and board, charged by Automotive Dealership Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., for its in-classroom boot camp.
Students who attend Automotive Dealership Institute immerse themselves in all things F&I for nine hours a day -- not including up to three hours of daily homework -- for four consecutive weeks.
Despite the F&I schools' differences, they share a goal to prepare their students for careers in F&I and, perhaps, dealership management.
Curricula cover seemingly simple skills, such as greeting the customer, and more complicated tasks, such as mastering finance software, loan structuring and leasing. Instruction also covers insurance products such as extended service contracts and guaranteed asset protection, or GAP.
Students also learn about rules, regulations and laws that govern things such as privacy, truth in lending, disclosures and IRS cash reporting. They develop skills by role-playing exercises in scenarios such as verifying customers' personal and credit information and presenting F&I products.
Alan Algan, CEO of Automotive Dealership Institute, says "the biggest nightmare for an F&I manager" is to authorize delivery of a vehicle to a customer at night or on the weekend -- also known as spot delivery -- only to have the lender require an additional down payment or information or say it can't finance the customer at all.
To prevent that from happening to its students, Automotive Dealership Institute teaches them step by step how to follow the underwriting guidelines widely provided by lenders to dealership F&I departments.
"There are no gray areas; it's all black and white," says Algan, who has 14 years of experience as an F&I director for dealerships in Canada. "As long as you follow the formula from those guidelines, it's impossible to come to a different conclusion than the bank."
The College of Automotive Management was started in 1992 and went from classroom training to online training near the end of 2011, says its president, Eric Andersen.
He says students log more than 100 hours to complete the school's F&I program and earn a diploma with certification in areas such as F&I administration, special finance, leasing and loan underwriting.